Covering iconic artists like The Beatles is not something any artist should take lightly, or in many cases, attempt. Synthwave artists GUNSHIP have not only risen to the challenge, they’ve done the legendary classic “Eleanor Rigby” justice. With a cover of that track releasing today in time for Halloween, October 28, 2020, the UK-based retro-futurists have added their own sinister, modern spin on the track, which isn’t exactly a walk in the park. Hear GUNSHIP’s dark take on the classic here: https://gunship.ffm.to/eleanorrigby.
“The song ‘Eleanor Rigby’ really is a sad and extremely poignant song, dealing with issues of disillusionment, loneliness, and isolation in society,” says Dan Haigh of GUNSHIP. “‘Look at all the lonely people’ is a lyric that has stuck with us forever. We wondered about a modern day Eleanor Rigby, and what it would be like if a character like her was alive today and experiencing 2020.”
With an extra poignancy added for social distancing and how it’s affecting people – especially those living alone – during the pandemic, “Eleanor Rigby”’s plight of loneliness has special significance. The current level of anxiety coupled with the proximity to Halloween was the optimal time for GUNSHIP to plan the release of the single.
“We felt some of the song’s themes dovetailed closely with the contemporary negative revelations surrounding the mass adoption of social media, phone addiction and the proliferation of the ‘pseudo-connections’ these platforms provide,” he explains. “The artwork for our cover version shows a young ‘Eleanor Rigby’, illuminated by her device, dependent on it, manipulated by it, and totally in the clutches of addiction to it. Given the current situation we felt the song would make a suitable cover for Halloween.”
Originally appearing on The Beatles’ 1966 album Revolver (and repurposed for the “Yellow Submarine” double A-side single), “Eleanor Rigby” was a shift to more experimental and sometimes darker music from the rock and pop the band was known for. GUNSHIP anchored into that direction and leaned in, focusing on both the additional physical solitude caused by the pandemic but also the general isolation from humanity brought on by social media.
“In the wake of films like The Social Dilemma [the 2020 Netflix documentary exposing social media addiction], these issues are being discussed with renewed intensity,” agrees Haigh. “‘Wearing the face that she keeps in a jar by the door’ – this facade or metaphorical mask that she puts on is now somewhat equivalent to today’s face modifying filters. The notion of ‘keeping up appearances’ despite problems / unhappiness is problematic.”
Add to COVID-19 / Sheltering from Home mandates worldwide, the depression and isolation grows exponentially. “The pandemic and resulting lockdowns have of course given many of us a strong experience of loneliness in the real world,” he adds.