Browse by Title
A B C D E F G
H I J K L M N
O P Q R S T U
V W X Y Z #  




Lovely Rita

by

The Beatles



Songfacts®:  You can leave comments about the song at the bottom of the page.

Paul McCartney wrote this as if he fell for a meter maid while she was taking his plate number. Said Paul: "I was bopping about on the piano in Liverpool when someone told me that in America, they call parking-meter women meter maids. I thought that was great, and it got to 'Rita Meter Maid' and then "Lovely Rita Meter Maid' and I was thinking vaguely that it should be a hate song: 'You took my car away and I'm so blue today' and you wouldn't be liking her; but then I thought it would be better to love her and if she was very freaky too, like a military man, with a bag on her shoulder. A foot stomper, but nice. The song was imagining if somebody was there taking down my number and I suddenly fell for her, and the kind of person I'd be, to fall for a meter maid, would be a shy office clerk and I'd say, 'May I inquire discreetly when you are free to take some tea with me.' Tea, not pot. It's like saying 'Come and cut the grass' and then realizing that could be pot, or the old teapot could be something about pot. But I don't mind pot and I leave the words in. They're not consciously introduced just to say pot and be clever." (from Beatles In Their Own Words)
We have a photo of a lovely Meter Maid. See it in Song Images
McCartney and Beatles producer George Martin both played pianos. Martin played the honky-tonk style in the middle.
Combs and paper were used to create odd background noises.
McCartney's vocal was sped-up a bit - one of the many studio tricks employed on the Sgt. Pepper album.
Brian Wilson of the Beach Boys told Q magazine that this is his favorite Paul McCartney song. He recalled: "I had a sneak preview of Sgt. Pepper when Paul came to visit me in 1967 and Lovely Rita made me laugh my head of. I love the way it comes floating in. The bassline is great and the lyrics are kind of funny too."
The Beatles
The Beatles Artistfacts
More The Beatles songs
More songs with girls' names in the title

Comments (60):

Taking Rita out for dinner and trying to win her doesn't sound like she is a prostitute but a common date. The singer just sees an attractive meter reader and has dinner with her. He goes home with her and sits on a sofa with her other sisters. "Meter Maid" isn't a metaphor but probably was used in the song because of its alliteration and its connotation to a prostitute, as a way of joking about Rita, even though she wasn't one.
- Harry, Sunnyvale, CA
Actually Brian Wilson told me (many moons ago)his favorite was She's Leaving Home...but then he may have changed his mind, caus' it's really a great album(as y'all know) This production is haunting with the strange echo and that Hofner sounding Bass...Dreamlike
- steve dotstar, los angeles, CA
okay i know how pissed off people get when theres a paul is dead reference in a beatle song but just for fun in this song the line "took her hom ei nearly made it" is said to mean that paul never able to made it home on that "fateful" day when he "died". But Paul is alive and all healthy today and i love him!
- Ahmed, Karachi, Pakistan
I love this song. My favorite part is the 'ahhhh' in the begining, but I can't seem to figure out who does that. I think that it sounds like John in the first part, right after the lovely acoustic guitar, then it seems that Paul starts to sing. Does anyone know who exactly did it?
- Sydney, Dallas, TX
This is a very upbeat song,but it is also a haunting piece of music that has almost a psychedelic sound to it.I think it perfectly fits into the line up of the Sgt. Pepper's theme.The Beatles were so inovative,they could write about anything and make it sound real and relevant.Another classic.
- George, Belleville, NJ
They didn't go to India until after this album and Magical Mystery Tour came out. So this wasn't written there. And it's Paul doing the "ahhh" in the intro, while John does it in "A Day in the Life". At the end of the song, after the grunting, John says something that's either You Better Believe It or You'll Never Believe It.
- Nikolai, Los Angeles, CA
This is my favorite Beatles song, every time i hear it, it immediatly gets me with the "ahhhhh" in the beginning, which, in my opinion, is the most beautiful sound i have ever heard.
- Hayley, Virginia Beach, VA
Oh Big Wil you couldn't be more wrong but i take that you're joking 'cuase you can't be that dumb.
By the way stop analyzing the songs that much haven't you heard glass onion¿¿
- DnnZ, AQP, Peru
Wow...so its a great song but man everyone is wrong. Ok, so most of this Record was written in India when they were with Maharisha Mahesh Yogi. They went on a retreat, Transcendental Meditation retreat. After finding out that indeed Maharisha was a hypocrite and was lying too them, so among other reasons they left. After George wrote a song about Mahasisha. Trying to make it appealing to the masses they changed the lyrics in to the song we know today as "Lovely Rita". If you don't believe me just sing Maharisha the same time the main lyric is being said, "Lovely Rita".

They often wrote lyrics for a song and then changed the lyrics...for another example "Yesterday" was originally "Scrambled Eggs".
- Big Wil, Winsted, CT
Tilyou: a cleverly disguised song about a hooker makes more sense to you than a cute love story? Bear in mind this is the guy who wrote "I Will" and "Silly Love Songs"? Sometimes a meter maid is just a meter maid.
- chloe, St. Louis, MO
PS....

Why else would he nearly "make it" WHILE sitting on a sofa with a sister or two? I mean... the sisters remain while the singer is nearly making it???

I don't think they're "sisters" in the sibling sense. :)

=============
"Sitting on the sofa with a sister or two" implies a visit to a "knocking shop" (house of prostitution) especially once you consider that a "meter maid" is a good metaphor for a woman who charges for her time. There's a line up of women, and the singer picks Rita.

The business about meters and traffic is just a metaphor -- and the singer HAS made it, and more than once ("when it gets dark I tow your heart away").

This clinches it: the line "in her cap she looked much older" implies the singer has seen her WITHOUT her cap (otherwise, he'd have no basis for the comparison).

Of course I admit room for debate (why does Rita pay the bill at "dinner"?) but an ode to a hooker makes more sense to me than the too-cute story about someone shy to date the woman that gave him a parking ticket. :)

T
- Tilyou, New York, NY
"Sitting on the sofa with a sister or two" implies a visit to a "knocking shop" (house of prostitution) especially once you consider that a "meter maid" is a good metaphor for a woman who charges for her time. There's a line up of women, and the singer picks Rita.

The business about meters and traffic is just a metaphor -- and the singer HAS made it, and more than once ("when it gets dark I tow your heart away").

This clinches it: the line "in her cap she looked much older" implies the singer has seen her WITHOUT her cap (otherwise, he'd have no basis for the comparison).

Of course I admit room for debate (why does Rita pay the bill at "dinner"?) but an ode to a hooker makes more sense to me than the too-cute story about someone shy to date the woman that gave him a parking ticket. :)

T
- Tilyou, New York, NY
I Think the roll that Rita plays in this song is more of a do it yourself type of girl, like the type of girl that would rather open the door for herself rather then someone do it for her. There are several clues that show that in this song for example Rita being a meter maid, most meter maids are men (not trying to be sexist.) Another example is Made her look a little like a military man and heres another good example: Got the bill and Rita paid it, usally the guy pays the bill. Obiviously "Took her home and nearly made it" is about sex but the keyword is NEARLY that means he didnt make it all the way Rita maybe stopped him? Sounds to me like shes that type of girl.
- Jake, NewYork, NY
In the end, I think it sounds like the guy was successful in "making it" with Rita. And at the end (The VERY end), somebody (either John or Ringo) says "I'm leaving/Believe it" or something like that.
- Peter Griffin, Quahog, RI
It sort of sounds like John is smoking pot and liking it in the background towards the end of the song. I'm suprised no one realized that and decided to critcize them about it. They were given a lot of criticism because some of their songs had the apearance of being drug refrence even though most of their songs aren't about drugs but instead relationships and other random things that come up in everyday life.
- Faith, Liverpool, --
A very catchy tune I must say.
- Farrah, Elon, NC
Hey that's the same Richard (Isle of Wight Richard) who thinks all women wear dresses and have long hair! He seems to like to comment less about the songs and more about the commenters. Pay no attention. BTW I can't stand this song. Blecch.
- Heather, Los Angeles, CA
This song to me epitomizes the Beatles psychadelic phase. Paul's bass is so freakin' sweet. His singing of "book" is funny too. I like how he says "customer" in Penny Lane too.
- Eric, Buffalo, NY
I love Paul when he says "Book"
- Samantha, Bowie, MD
what a good song! my favorite on sgt. pepper other than with a little help from my friends. that song tops everything :D
- Jude, Toronto, QC
joe from lethbridge, "Lovely Erection" might have been on "Two Virgins."
- Peter Griffin, Quahog, RI
sounds like Paul was checking out the Meter Maid. Oooooooh Linda's gonna be mad when she hears this song. Speccially at the end.
- Bianca Sanchez, Alburquerque, NM
This is my favorite song from the Sgt Pepper's album, no, every song from the the sgt pepper's album are my favorite songs except for Within You Without You written by George, Sorry George :]
- Dave, Cebu, Peru
The song has sped up vocals and unusual sounding vocals at the end of the song. What sounds like a violin instrument in part of the song is actually Harrison on slide guitar Harrison might not be in the same league as Page or Clapton but he came up with some great tones for the Beatles.
Sal, Bardonia, NY
- sal, bardonia , NY
I think it was John.
- Dan, The Bestmont, IL
I love the "ahhhhh" in the beginning of those song. Does anyone know who does that, John or Paul?
- Nick, Trenton, NJ
I think "Lovely Erection" was on one of the John and Yoko albums.
- joe, lethbridge, Canada
Dirk, I have to disagree with your discertation about this being Paul's take on women's lib. I was around way back then (albeit a young teen) and I never heard this as being anything more than a fanciful image out of Paul's brain about making time with a good-looking mater maid. As Lennon said (in Ken's comment), Paul liked to make up stories for his songs. Plus, there were lots of meter maids back then and it wasn't THAT big of a deal!
- Kurt, Hamilton, NJ
How come so many people think Beatles songs are about sex and drugs?!
- Ian, Lethbridge, Canada
Completely and utterly underrated. The harmonies and trippy guitar in the beggining is beautiful. And so is the break, paul does get a little cheesy with this at point though
- Sean, Psst, CA
This is definitely a good song--It's pretty, it's weird, it gets stuck to the roof of my brain.......I love it.
- lauren, some place, DE
p.s. i also like how young paul sounds when he says "when are free to take some tea with MEEEEEEEE"
- Meredith, Mechanicsburg, PA
yes! sylvia, i love the "ahhhh" part at the beginning. it is very similar to the long "ahhh" he does in A Day in the Life. Every time i hear those i imagine a big john head floating in the clouds singing that. it makes me laugh.
- Meredith, Mechanicsburg, PA
Way back when this song came out, back when even your parents were young, the generally accepted understanding was that it was the Beatles take on this weird new thing called "women's lib." ...I guess you sort of had to be there. Believe it or not, life even in Swinging London and Hip New York circa 1967 was still pretty rigid for women. Women were still thought of as the humans who fixed dinner. The sight of a woman in a police uniform was startlingly new to a lot of people. Women had to fight like hell for things that guys took for granted, like good paying jobs. (OK, they still have to, but not like back then.) In the 1960s, it was just the beginning of the battle, and lots of people were frightened by the whole thing. (Ask your moms.) A couple of songs on the Beatle's Sgt Pepper album refer to the women's struggle. (Example--Getting Better: "I used to be cruel to my woman, I beat her and kept her apart from the things that she loved. Man I was mean but I'm changing my scene..." etc) In Lovely Rita, you find a fictional story. You hear this jangly, happy-go-lucky sound with an old-fashioned piano playing. Then you have this happy-go-lucky dude who falls in love with a meter maid. But his encounter shakes him up. He doesn't know quite what to make of Rita. She is a militant, dressed in a uniform, just in case you miss the symbolism. She is a bold, self-confident young woman. She is "liberated." She picks up the check at dinner. But then here is the kicker: She brings the young lad home where he finds himself "sitting on a sofa with a sister or two." In this new world of the women's worldwide struggle for equal rights, women referred to one another as "sisters." As in "sisters in arms," or "sisters in the great fight for liberation." The image in the song is this happy-go-lucky boy, imagining he's going to get laid ("took her home, I nearly made it"), but instead finds himself surrounded on the couch by strong and protective women.... So like I said, I guess you sort of had to be there. But this is a subject you find both Mr, Lennon and Mr. McCartney returning to throughout their careers. Check out the words to Paul's "Another Day"--it's about an office worker who's about to break down under the pressure of her male-dominated world.... The flip side of that single was called "Oh Woman Oh Why," which I seem to recall was about an angry woman with a gun. And John wrote incredibly outspoken lyrics about how the women of the world are treated.
- dirk, Nashville, TN
Loveitloveitloveit.

I love Paul's 'ahhhh' at the beginning. Totally awesome.
- Sylvia, London, England
Yeah, I wonder what Richard was thinking when he went off like he did. Calm down Richard. Smoke a joint. Is there some reason why you are so uptight, do they call you "Little" Richard?
- lee, clearwater, FL
I definitely think Nathan summed it up correctly.
- Carissa, La Mirada, CA
Yeah Nathon, it makes since.
- Stefanie magura, Rock Hill, SC
Thanks good point. Makes since how song would relate to the rumor, whether it was true or not. Sorry...
- Stefanie magura, Rock Hill, SC
(Nearly made it) is clearly a reference to sex. And (sitting on a sofa with a sister or two) is probably Paul being on a sofa with Rita's sisters, which is the reason he couldn't make a move on Rita. Make sense?
- Nathan, Defiance, OH
One of my Beatles faves. Great song, great beat, genius ending.
- Gregor, Toronto, Canada
Don't get your knickers in a twist Richard. I was merely asking what it meant and stating what I had heard or rather something I had read. I never said I believed it. So thanks for explaining what it meant. Instead of getting on my back about it, you should be telling the silly person who thought that. Actually read the whole comment before writing anything back.
- Carissa, La Mirada, CA
Carissa - "sitting on the sofa with a sister or two" means "sitting on the sofa with a sister or two". Stop trying to read silly meanings into every Beatles song. It is a song about a traffic warden he tries to pull, but doesn't quite get her into bed because the rest of her family are about when he gets her home. Simple as that. If Paul had wanted to sing about erections he'd have probably written a song called "Lovely Erection".
- Richard, Newport, Isle of Wight, England
What does "sitting on the sofa with a sister or two" mean? I heard it meant erections because of the line "took her home, i nearly made it." Does anybody know the truth?
- Carissa, La Mirada, CA
Catherine - since when was Glasgow in England?
- Richard, Newport, Isle of Wight, England
John always used this song as an example of how Paul would write songs "like a novelist" by making up characters and situations. John said that he always preferred to write songs about himself and what he was feeling and thinking at the time.
- Ken, Louisville, KY
No one is saying that Paul actually died, but are rather just telling an interesting rumor that was connected with this song. It may not be a "fact" that the story happened, but it is however a "fact" that the story is related with this song. The rumors actually helped the sell of their records, but if you think they are "stupid" then lets just stop... for you.
- Scott, Normal, IL
Why are we talking about 'the Paul Is dead" rumors? C'mon people, he's not dead, so why are we still talking about it?
- Stefanie magura, Rock Hill, SC
If you listen to the beginning as Paul sings "lovely rita, meter maid" you can hear John in the background saying "ahhh, paul".... very cool i never heard it before
- ty, downingtown, PA
I agree, the way Paul says "book" is adorable! This song makes me happy :)
- maddie, Knoxville, TN
If you listen carefully towards the end of the song, you can hear, what sounds to me like, 2 people having sex ending in climax, then hearing Paul or John saying "I'm leaving" and the piano replicating the slamming of a door.
- Joe, Oswego, NY
The reason it sounds like Booque is just his accent. My grandad says it the same way.
- Nathan, Brisbane, Australia
Catherine, you do realize you just called thousands of people lemons? i myself dont believe the rumors, and i know you can think of a better word than lemon.
- ellen, Nashville, TN
I love Paul's accent when he says "book"- it sounds like "booque". It's so cute.
- Natalia, Sydney, Australia
Kay never said he believed it. Myself, I find it an amusing fiction. Interesting, yes, but fiction.
- Martin Bonica, Sterling, VA
Actually,Kay,the story is is that he saw the girl and let her into his car.She threw her arms around him,which caused him to drive into a steel fence.Oh well,that rumour is stupid anyway.Ha! Whatever...
- Scott Baldwin, Edmonton, Canada
The Paul is Dead rumors are dead themselves, so get with the times and GET OVER IT
- Mia, Elk River, MN
Kay,Don't believe everything u hear,Mabye the person who posted that "P.I.D" was lying!
- Scott Baddwin, edmonton, England
HAHAH thats hilarious. in the song what do you think the line "sitting on the couch with a sister or two" refurs to? that one always threw me off somewhat
- alyssa, georgetown, TX
According to the "Paul is dead" rumors, Paul supposedly was stopped at a set of lights on Nov. 9, 1966 and he saw an attractive meter maid. He "didn't notice that the lights had changed" and was struck by another car and killed.
- Kay, Wakefield, MA
You have to to post comments.
Dave Pirner of Soul AsylumDave Pirner of Soul Asylum
Dave explains how the video appropriated the meaning of "Runaway Train," and what he thought of getting parodied by Weird Al.
Stan RidgwayStan Ridgway
Go beyond the Wall of Voodoo with this cinematic songwriter.
Jackie DeShannon - "Put a Little Love in Your Heart"Jackie DeShannon - "Put a Little Love in Your Heart"
It wasn't her biggest hit as a songwriter (that would be "Bette Davis Eyes"), but "Put a Little Love in Your Heart" had a family connection for Jackie.
Travis Stever of Coheed and CambriaTravis Stever of Coheed and Cambria
Travis talks Rock Band, their Amory Wars storyline, and the CC song that some fair-weather fans show up for.