A Twitter user is rewriting “Eleanor Rigby” as a shopping list.
It’s a common occurrence: You’re shopping for your weekly groceries or picking up a few items to make dinner and suddenly you find you’ve started humming a tune that’s been stuck your head or playing over the grocery store loudspeaker. And while the two tasks seem separate from one another, one Twitter user found a way to marry them into a fun game. Illustrator and comedian Daniel Spenser, who currently creates content for the Full Frontal with Samantha Bee and Last Week Tonight with John Oliver, noticed that products one from one story in particular—Trader Joe’s—have a certain, uncanny ability to replace the lyrics in one song in particular—The Beatles’ 1966 classic “Eleanor Rigby.”
Focusing on the part of the song’s lyrics that mention the eponymous woman’s name, Spenser was able to find five-syllable grocery items that, when sung in place “Eleanor Rigby,” may as well be the jumping off points for a hyper-conceptual “Weird Al” Yankovic album about Trader Joe’s. Products like “Gluten-Free Joe-Joe’s,” “Shelled Edamame,” and “Maple Leaf Cookies.”
"A little while back I heard the song 'Eleanor Rigby' on the radio (which I think is on computers now) and started thinking about other names that'd fit in place of Eleanor Rigby," Spenser tells Food & Wine via email. "Then names became phrases and then phrases became any group of words that added up to five syllables. After a while, it kind of became hard for me not to place any group of words into the song."
The most recent batch of products was posted over the weekend, but Spenser first tweeted a few finds that fit the pattern back in October of 2017, including “Mini Beef Tacos,” “Fantasy Pumpkins,” “Harvest Whole Wheat Bread,” and “Fat-Free Ricotta.”
"I started seeing a lot of Li'l Riggies (a term the person sitting next to me invented right this moment for words/phrases that fit into the song) on signs, merchandise, etc. It was sort of like that movie A Beautiful Mind only instead of discovering new frontiers in mathematics I was helping no one and being an idiot. I put it on Twitter and people were into it! Now I am one of the Beatles," Spenser jokes.
Followers of Spenser’s tweet also jumped on board with their own suggestions for—what we can only assume are now officially called—Li'l Riggies, thus confirming the vast potential for lyric swaps.
Comedian DC Pierson added, “Ahhhhhhhh look at all the Fearless Flyers” in place of the “lonely people” portion of the song, proving a whole parody revolving around the fan-favorite store is definitely feasible.
While there are surely more aisles of Trader Joe's to be explored, Spenser says he does have a favorite entry so far. "Probably 'mini beef tacos.' I am a fan of each of those words individually and together they are (you can’t see me but I am doing the 'chef’s kiss.')"
We asked Spenser why he thinks the game has started to take off, but as with "I'm not sure why it works so well. Maybe because the song is so sad. Who wouldn't love a sad, sad song about a 'cracker assortment?' WHO??!" Spenser also says the Beatles' song isn't the only pop tune with potential, and that he's toyed with other songs as well.
"Here is a definitely interesting peek into my system of putting words/phrases with a certain number of syllables into songs:
3 Syllables: 'I Did It' by Dave Matthews Band
4 syllables: 'Rock the Casbah' by The Clash or 'Jukebox Hero' by Foreigner
5 Syllables: 'Eleanor Rigby' by The Beatles
6 Syllables: 'Runnin' With the Devil' by Van Halen"
It seems there's at least an EP's worth of material right there alone. As for future editions of the Eleanor Rigby x Trader Joe's mashup, Spenser says he's open to keeping the ball rolling. "I might, compulsively. It's fun! I'm glad people enjoy it and it's nice to see people writing their own lyrics. It feels a little weird that the bit is so specific to a brand that I am unaffiliated with but it'd be neat if it led to me receiving free delicious 'cowboy caviar' salsa (available at Trader Joe's). I can't wait to have children so I can explain this bit to them."
Of course, as with any earworm, thinking about it too often does have its drawbacks. "To be as honest, I don't even really like that song. I am haunted by it."