Revisiting The Beatles 1966 “Yellow Submarine”/”Eleanor Rigby” coupled single

Both songs have interesting backgrounds and are absolute classics

Revisiting The Beatles 1966 “Yellow Submarine”/”Eleanor Rigby” coupled single

“Yellow Submarine”

The Beatles as a group produced an amazing string of timeless Pop songs that have seen no match over the years, but “Yellow Submarine” is perhaps one of those songs of The Beatles that pleases almost everyone, from little children to grown ups. Composed by Lennon and McCartney specifically for Ringo Starr’s voice, “Yellow Submarine” was included on the 1966 album “Revolver” and released on 5 August 1966 as double-A side single with “Eleanor Rigby”. Although initially intended as a nonsense song for children, it end up receiving various social and political interpretations, something that was usual at the time. The recording process of the song involved several overdubs and sound effects to create the atmosphere of a nautical atmosphere. Producer George Martin drew on his experience of producing comedy records for Beyond the Fringe and The Goon Show, providing an array of zany sound effects to create the nautical atmosphere. The studio store cupboard was ransacked for special effects, which included chains, a ship’s bell, tap dancing mats, whistles, hooters, waves, a tin bath filled with water, wind, and thunderstorm machines, as well as a cash register,curiously the same one that was later used on Pink Floyd’s song “Money” in 1973 (recorded on the same Abbey Road studios). The back vocals and chorus also involved several people connected to the band, and among them, the Rolling Stones guitarist Brian Jones who provided back vocals and special effects. Reportedly, after the overdubs were finished, The Beatles collaborator Mal Evans strapped on a marching bass drum and led everybody in a line around the studio doing the conga dance whilst banging on the drum. In 1980 John Lennon talked further about “Yellow Submarine”, stating that ” is Paul’s baby. Donovan helped with the lyrics (he contributed with the famous line “Sky of blue and sea of green”). I helped with the lyrics too. We virtually made the track come alive in the studio, but based on Paul’s inspiration. Paul’s idea. Paul’s title … written for Ringo.” Later in 1968, “Yellow Submarine” was used on The Beatles United Artists film, also called Yellow Submarine, and as the soundtrack album to the film.

“Eleanor Rigby”

Credited to Lennon and McCartney but written primary by Paul, “Eleanor Rigby” is one of the prime or first example of The Beatles experimental adventures in the studio. At the time, the song came out almost as a shock to pop music listeners, due to the fact of it’s lyrics that dealt with death and loneliness alongside the somber mood strings, almost funeral like, melody. The groundbreaking song used a double string quartet arrangement by George Martin and actually, none of the Beatles played instruments on it, though John Lennon and George Harrison did contribute harmony vocals. Comprising four violins, two violas, and two cellos, the score was composed by Martin, who had classical music training. The title of the song, who McCartney states was initially called “Miss Daisy Hawkins”, remains disputable to interpretation. Initially, McCartney said he came up with the name “Eleanor” from actress Eleanor Bron, who had starred with the Beatles in the film Help!. “Rigby” came from the name of a store in Bristol, “Rigby & Evens Ltd, Wine & Spirit Shippers”, however, it has been pointed out that the graveyard of St Peter’s Church in Liverpool, where John Lennon and Paul McCartney first met at the Woolton Village garden fete in the afternoon of 6 July 1957, contains the gravestone of an individual called Eleanor Rigby. McCartney, years later stated that the strange coincidence between reality and the lyrics could be a product of his subconscious (cryptomnesia), rather than being a meaningless fluke. In the 1980’s, a grave of an Eleanor Rigby was actually “discovered” in the graveyard of St Peter’s Parish Church in Woolton, Liverpool, and a few yards away from that, another tombstone with the last name “McKenzie” (lyrical reference “Father McKenzie”) scrawled across it. “Eleanor Rigby” was also featured on The Beatles 1968 animation movie “Yellow Submarine”. The single peaked to the top of the U.K singles charts on August 23, 1966, becoming The Beatles eleventh No.1.

Watch The Beatles official promo for “Yellow Submarine” taken from the animation movie “Yellow Submarine”, 1968

Watch The Beatles official promo for “Eleanor Rigby” taken from the animation movie “Yellow Submarine”, 1968

Watch more The Beatles related videos


Suggest a correction

Images and photographs can be from different ranges of sources such as Pinterest, Tumblr etc. except when/where noted. If you are the copyright holder and would like them removed or credited, please get in touch.



David Warren

David Warren an editor and author for Pop Expresso and in the free time enjoys making instrumental music - -  and to learn about history and cultures. Reach out at

Follow and Like us on Facebook!