Working Class Hero/Eleanor Rigby

One day I was riding the subway home from work and the words to 'Eleanor Rigby' sprang into my head. 'All the lonely people, where do they all come from?' I always found it interesting the way people let themselves be naked when they're riding home from work. In the morning everybody sits straight, bracing themselves for the day ahead. But in the evening they are tired of holding themselves up all day; they collapse into their seats on the train and you can see the stories of their lives on their faces.

I decided I wanted to steal some of these faces, and to create a photo essay with the lyrics to 'Eleanor Rigby' as the text. I picked a day -- March 23 1995 -- and took my video camera to work with me (I could not use a standard camera, because the clicks would give me away). I usually take the E train home from the World Trade Center, but I decided to shoot my pictures on the 7 train from Times Square to Flushing, Queens instead. The 7 train appealed to me for a few reasons: they run many trains on that line, so it's not as crowded as the E during rush hour; also the train goes above-ground once it reaches Queens (making it technically not a subway but an elevated line), and I figured this would give me good lighting.

At first I was nervous pointing my video camera in people's faces, but most of them didn't notice, as I had planned a subterfuge. I held the camera a few inches away from me and kept peering at the buttons and controls with a puzzled look on my face, hoping that people would think I'd just bought the camera and was trying to figure out how to use it. Every once in a while I'd mumble to myself and touch a few buttons as if confused by them; in fact I was zooming in and out on particular faces and squinting to see into the viewer.

I switched cars a few times, and also captured some good faces at the Queensboro Plaza station between trains. My battery ran out near Jackson Heights, but by that time I'd gotten enough good shots. I ate a quick dinner and rushed over to my friend Tony's house (he has an Intel video board in his PC) and we spent the evening extracting GIF's from the live video feed.

It kinda bugged me that, with all the great Beatles songs out there, I'd picked a McCartney song instead of a Lennon one. I mentioned this to my wife, and she said "Why don't you do something with 'Working Class Hero' too?" Duh. Thanks, Maggie. Here, on the next two pages, are the pictures I got. I see tremendous beauty in these faces, and I hope you see it too. So here with no further ado is my 7-train 5-o'clock what-a-shitty-day time-to-go-home Liverpool to Times Square to Flushing medley.

Queensboro Ballads
by Levi Asher