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The Beatles‘ “Eleanor Rigby” is one of the Fab Four’s most famous ballads. During the songwriting process, Paul McCartney asked John Lennon and a pair of others to work on the lyrics of the song. John explained why Paul’s actions offended him.

The Beatles' Paul McCartney, George Harrison, Ringo Starr, and John Lennon with instruments during the "Eleanor Rigby" era
The Beatles | Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

John Lennon said Paul McCartney only wrote the 1st verse of The Beatles’ ‘Eleanor Rigby’

The book All We Are Saying: The Last Major Interview with John Lennon and Yoko Ono is a 1980 interview. In the interview, John was asked about “Eleanor Rigby.” “Ah, the first verse was his and the rest are basically mine,” he said. “But the way he did it … Well, he knew he had a song.”

John said Paul didn’t directly encourage him to work on “Eleanor Rigby.” “But by that time he didn’t want to ask for my help, and we were sitting around with [The Beatles’ personal assistant] Mal Evans and [music industry executive] Neil Aspinall, so he said to us, ‘Hey, you guys, finish up the lyrics.'” 

John Lennon said The Beatles’ road manager did not contribute to the song even though Paul McCartney asked him to do so

John was incensed by Paul’s actions. “Now I was there with Mal, a telephone installer who was our road manager, and Neil, who was a student accountant, and I was insulted and hurt that Paul had just thrown it out in the air,” he said.

John had a theory about what Paul really wanted. “He actually meant he wanted me to do it, and of course there isn’t a line of theirs in the song because I finally went off to a room with Paul and we finished the song,” he said. “But that’s how … that’s the kind of insensitivity he would have, which upset me in later years.”


The Beatles: Paul McCartney Changed the Lyrics of ‘Eleanor Rigby’ Because of His Dad

How ‘Eleanor Rigby’ performed on the charts in the United States and the United Kingdom

“Eleanor Rigby” became a hit in the United States. The track peaked at No. 11 on the Billboard Hot 100, staying on the chart for eight weeks. The Beatles included “Eleanor Rigby” on the album Revolver. The album topped the Billboard 200 for six weeks, remaining on the chart for 85 weeks altogether.

According to The Official Charts Company, “Eleanor Rigby” became far more popular in the United Kingdom. There, it was released as a double A side with “Yellow Submarine.” The songs were No. 1 in the U.K. for four weeks, staying on the chart for 13 weeks altogether.

Meanwhile, Revolver was even more popular there than “Eleanor Rigby.” The album topped the U.K. chart for seven weeks. Revolver stayed on the chart for 34 weeks in total.

“Eleanor Rigby” became an international hit even if John didn’t like working on it.