"Lovely Rita" is a song by The Beatles performed on the album Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, written and sung by Paul McCartney (writing credits: Lennon/McCartney). It is about a female traffic warden and the narrator's affection for her.
The term, "meter-maid
", is American slang for a female traffic warden, who are now officially known by the less gender-specific parking attendant
, and was largely unknown in the UK prior to the song's release. The song plays an important role in the Paul is Dead
theory that occurred during The Beatles' fame, as the song figures in the hoax because McCartney was distracted by Rita while driving, and led to the car crash that ended his life. In truth, the song emanates from when McCartney was issued with a parking ticket outside Abbey Road Studios, by a female traffic warden named Meta Davis. Instead of becoming angry, he accepted it with good grace and expressed his feelings (sarcastically) in song. When asked why he had called her "Rita", McCartney replied: "Well, she looked like a Rita to me".
Recording began on February 23, 1967. Using a four-track recorder, this first performance featured Harrison's guitar on Track 1, Lennon's guitar on Track 2, Ringo's drums on Track 3, and McCartney's piano set on Track 4. Once those tracks were "bounced,"
the band later added lead vocal, bass, and a three-part backing vocal section. A second piano, played by George Martin and processed electromechanically to wobble in and out of tune was added for the distinctive solo. By March 21, the final mono mix was completed and a month later, the stereo mix was done.
The unusual noises during the song after the lines "and the bag across her shoulder/ made her look a little like a military man" were John Lennon, Paul McCartney, and George Harrison playing comb and paper. Mal Evans was sent to Abbey Road's lavatories to collect toilet paper (which was stamped with the words, "PROPERTY OF EMI"). This was used to cover hair combs, which Evans and others blew through to resemble the sound of a kazoo orchestra.
According to Inside Out: A Personal History of Pink Floyd, biography of Pink Floyd written by Floyd drummer Nick Mason, the original four members of Pink Floyd i.e. Syd Barrett, Roger Waters, Rick Wright, and Nick Mason were present in the studio and watched the Beatles recording Lovely Rita.
In 1976, Roy Wood
recorded the song for the evanescent musical documentary All This and World War II
. The song was also recorded by Fats Domino
In 2007, Travis recorded the song for It Was 40 Years Ago Today, a television film with contemporary acts recording the album's songs using the same studio, technicians and recording techniques as the original.
Les Fradkin has an instrumental version on his 2007 release- "Pepper Front To Back".
In popular culture
- When the iPhone was unveiled in January 2007, Apple Inc.'s Steve Jobs chose to play "Lovely Rita" to show off the device's music-playing functionality.
- In honor of this song, the female attendants for the Cirque du Soleil show Love are dressed as 1960s meter maids.