The Beatles wrote many songs centered on fictional characters, from the title character of “Mean Mr. Mustard” to Desmond and Molly Jones from “Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da.” “Eleanor Rigby” appears to be about a pair of fictional characters – Ms. Rigby and Father McKenzie. But are they fictional?
Originally, Paul McCartney believed he fabricated the names in the song. A visit to a cemetery he went to as a child convinced him otherwise. Here’s the story behind the real people who may have inspired characters in the song.
The song tells the story of a sad, lonely woman named Eleanor Rigby and an ineffectual preacher named Father McKenzie. Rigby dies lonely and unmourned. McKenzie delivers the sermon at her funeral.