Eleanor Rigby

Earlier this week I answered a random twitter question that asked what songs would be good to make television series from?  The first song I happened to think of was Eleanor Rigby, which is perhaps an easy thing to understand.  Let us examine how it is that one could make a compelling series out of this song, and what it indicates about the sorts of songs that would make for inspirations for longer series media, be they films or television shows.  First, let us look at the lyrics for the song (courtesy of LyricFind):

Ah, look at all the lonely people
Ah, look at all the lonely people

Eleanor Rigby picks up the rice in the church where a wedding has been
Lives in a dream
Waits at the window, wearing the face that she keeps in a jar by the door
Who is it for?

All the lonely people
Where do they all come from?
All the lonely people
Where do they all belong?

Father McKenzie writing the words of a sermon that no one will hear
No one comes near.
Look at him working, darning his socks in the night when there’s nobody there
What does he care?

All the lonely people
Where do they all come from?
All the lonely people
Where do they all belong?

Ah, look at all the lonely people
Ah, look at all the lonely people

Eleanor Rigby died in the church and was buried along with her name
Nobody came
Father McKenzie wiping the dirt from his hands as he walks from the grave
No one was saved

All the lonely people
Where do they all come from?
All the lonely people
Where do they all belong?


So, what is the story that is being told.  For one, we have the lonely person Eleanor Rigby picking up the rice after a wedding, presumably lacking a partner for herself, and we also have Father McKenzie working and darning his socks and writing a sermon that no one will hear.  In terms of characters, it is fairly easy to flesh out what sort of series would work for this.  The song as a whole reflects upon loneliness, and while that is not the most obvious choice for a television series, it would make for some compelling viewing, if somewhat uncomfortable viewing [1].  From the two main characters of the song, it would be worthwhile to think of a series that focuses on the loneliness of different people that interact, or at least share the presence, of these two titular lonely people.

One could start, for example, with one or multiple episodes about Eleanor herself.  How does she live her life aside from trying to collect the rice that has been thrown at the wedding?  Why does she die in church?  Does she have anywhere else to live?  Who else attends services there?  We know, for example, that there are to be episodes focusing on Father McKenzie, on his duties as a priest.  Who listens to his sermons, and who does he interact with?  What was the couple getting married?  Are they lonely together?  What other guests were there at the wedding?  Did any of them notice Eleanor or have any meaningful role in her life?  One could see a drama like this telling various vantage points of different characters in the same small world and show how many and various are the ways that people are lonely in this world.

I personally think it would make for compelling viewing, but it would certainly be unconventional viewing.  Most series focus on a small set of main characters that the viewer is meant to care about and who the other characters in the show care about, but the main point of this show would be to demonstrate the characters living lives that no one seems to care about, no matter how much they may (quietly) care about others.  Indeed, the major characters of individual episodes would be likely to be minor characters in other episodes, given the smallness of the world that many people live in.  It would require some very clever continuity work to make sure that people look the same and dress the same as they interact with each other over the course of the episodes, but it is definitely something that could work very well in giving an example of a show full of lonely people who long for connection but cannot seem to find.

What is it that makes this song (and others like it) worthy of being turned into television shows?  The main part is that they tell a compelling story that one can expand from.  One website listed dozens of potential series that would take the premise of the song and expand on it.  One can take the story or premise of the song and expand from it, one can take the title of the song and think of a situation it fits for, and the result is a strong premise for a show that could last several seasons.  Indeed, there are many songs that one can creatively twist to serve as the premise for a show, with a ready-made audience as well as theme song.  Why then is it not done more often?  Given how many reboots are done, why not take a song that allows the chance for at least a somewhat fresh premise, something that has not literally been done before?  Are we really that uncreative?

[1] See, for example:








About nathanalbright

I'm a person with diverse interests who loves to read. If you want to know something about me, just ask.
This entry was posted in History, Music History, Musings and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

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