Rememories

I follow David Bennett Piano on YouTube. Today, he posted a side trip he took from Manchester to Liverpool.

This post reflects on how memory operates and true and false memories. The video clip is about a minute long and shows Paul McCartney recounting how he decided to create the character of his eponymous song Eleanor Rigby.

In Paul’s recollection, he had been working with an actress Eleanor Bron on the Beatles film Help!

Eleanor Bron and George Harrison

He fancied the name Eleanor and was trying to think of a two-syllable word to follow when he spotted a sign that read Rigby & Evens, a wine and spirits shop in Bristol.

Rigby & Evens, Limited Sign

According to Paul, these were the components leading to the title character.

Eleanor Rigby Hand-written Lyrics by Pail McCartney

From the perspective of recency over primacy, Paul may be correct, but it could also be, as he admits, that he had seen the tombstone without it being consciously registered. He may have even been consciously aware but subsequently forgotten it. Perhaps this is why the name resonated with him, having been exposed previously. Memory is known to be reinforced through repetition. From the perspective of primacy over recency, he may have never settled on the name had he not seen the inscription on the gravestone.

Could it be that this was a coincidence and Paul never did see that grave marker, or is it more likely that he did? We’ll never know for sure, but it is an interesting turn of events.

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