Lovely Rita

Album: Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band (1967)
  • Thanks to Ron for this photo:

    When I caught a glimpse of Rita
    Filling in a ticket in her little white book
    In a cap she looked much older
    And the bag across her shoulder
    Made her look a little like a military man

    Though there are no meters along downtown Brazilian streets, this young lady is the Brazilian equivalent to a meter maid. In order to park legally on the street downtown, one must purchase a parking pass from a lady like this for about a dollar. If she sees a parked car without one of these paper passes displayed above the dashboard in the front window, she will ticket your car. Then you must find her (or one of her sister meter maids) within 3 days to pay about three dollars. It gets even more expensive after three days. These women are members of a special squad of the Brazilian military police, but are referred to as "Periquito" or little parrot. This goes back to the days when they were outfitted entirely in bright green clothing to be noticable when ticketing from the streetside of a parked car. Their protestations about that style was heeded and these more conservative uniforms adopted a few years back. They do look very military and must keep their hair tight on the top of their heads. But this is afterall Brazil, where women can be arrested for not looking sexy, so the Periquitoes are encouraged to wear make-up and smile when writing tickets. Just as this one did when I paid her my three dollars.

Comments: 68

  • Richard Kial from Miami FloridaMetermaids we're not in Liverpool when the song was written. How many sisters did Rita have? Do you believe she was an only child and looked 18 but was 22. I don't believe in the Beatles comment. Do you?
  • Jota from Tokyo, JapanI really appreciate Dirk's comments. I'd love to hear from people who were there at the time! It actually makes sense if you think about what Paul says about "Lady Madonna" and "Blackbird."
  • Roy from Slough28 IF.
  • Jennifur Sun from RamonaLoved the piano on this tune.
  • Roy from SloughGive us a "WINK"......mmmmmm?
  • Jennifur Sun from RamonaLove Sir Martin's honkey tonk piano and Paul's bass. One of my fav Beatles tunes.
  • Trebor from TexasDoes anybody else hear a sound effect buried in Lovely Rita? "took her out and tried to win her...had a laugh and over dinner (pop)...told her that I 'd really like to see her again...". Is that pop a wine bottle or champagne bottle being uncorked?
  • David from Apex, NcBig Wil, the song you're thinking of is "Sexy Sadie" from the White Album. That is the one that was about the Maharishi. And the White Album is the album mostly written in India.
  • Harry from Sunnyvale, CaTaking 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.

  • Steve Dotstar from Los Angeles, CaActually 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
  • Ahmed from Karachi, Pakistanokay 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!
  • Sydney from Dallas, TxI 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?
  • George from Belleville, NjThis 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.
  • Nikolai from Los Angeles, CaThey 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.
  • Hayley from Virginia Beach, VaThis 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.
  • Dnnz from Aqp, PeruOh 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¿¿
  • Big Wil from Winsted, 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".
  • Chloe from St. Louis, MoTilyou: 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.
  • Tilyou from New York, NyPS....

    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. :)

  • Tilyou from 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. :)


  • Jake from Newyork, NyI 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.
  • Peter Griffin from Quahog, RiIn 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.
  • Faith from Liverpool, --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.
  • Farrah from Elon, NcA very catchy tune I must say.
  • Heather from Los Angeles, CaHey 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.
  • Eric from Buffalo, NyThis 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.
  • Samantha from Bowie, MdI love Paul when he says "Book"
  • Jude from Toronto, Qcwhat a good song! my favorite on sgt. pepper other than with a little help from my friends. that song tops everything :D
  • Peter Griffin from Quahog, Rijoe from lethbridge, "Lovely Erection" might have been on "Two Virgins."
  • Bianca Sanchez from Alburquerque, Nmsounds like Paul was checking out the Meter Maid. Oooooooh Linda's gonna be mad when she hears this song. Speccially at the end.
  • Dave from Cebu, PeruThis 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 :]
  • Sal from Bardonia , NyThe 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
  • Dan from The Bestmont, IlI think it was John.
  • Nick from Trenton, NjI love the "ahhhhh" in the beginning of those song. Does anyone know who does that, John or Paul?
  • Joe from Lethbridge, CanadaI think "Lovely Erection" was on one of the John and Yoko albums.
  • Kurt from Hamilton, NjDirk, 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!
  • Ian from Lethbridge, CanadaHow come so many people think Beatles songs are about sex and drugs?!
  • Sean from Psst, CaCompletely 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
  • Lauren from Some Place, DeThis is definitely a good song--It's pretty, it's weird, it gets stuck to the roof of my brain.......I love it.
  • Meredith from Mechanicsburg, Pap.s. i also like how young paul sounds when he says "when are free to take some tea with MEEEEEEEE"
  • Meredith from Mechanicsburg, Payes! 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.
  • Dirk from Nashville, TnWay 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.
  • Sylvia from London, England Loveitloveitloveit.

    I love Paul's 'ahhhh' at the beginning. Totally awesome.
  • Lee from Clearwater, FlYeah, 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?
  • Carissa from La Mirada, CaI definitely think Nathan summed it up correctly.
  • Stefanie Magura from Rock Hill, ScYeah Nathon, it makes since.
  • Stefanie Magura from Rock Hill, ScThanks good point. Makes since how song would relate to the rumor, whether it was true or not. Sorry...
  • Nathan from Defiance, Oh(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?
  • Gregor from Toronto, CanadaOne of my Beatles faves. Great song, great beat, genius ending.
  • Carissa from La Mirada, CaDon'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.
  • Richard from Newport, Isle Of Wight, EnglandCarissa - "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".
  • Carissa from La Mirada, CaWhat 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?
  • Richard from Newport, Isle Of Wight, EnglandCatherine - since when was Glasgow in England?
  • Ken from Louisville, KyJohn 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.
  • Scott from Normal, IlNo 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.
  • Stefanie Magura from Rock Hill, ScWhy are we talking about 'the Paul Is dead" rumors? C'mon people, he's not dead, so why are we still talking about it?
  • Ty from Downingtown, PaIf 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
  • Maddie from Knoxville, TnI agree, the way Paul says "book" is adorable! This song makes me happy :)
  • Joe from Oswego, NyIf 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.
  • Nathan from Brisbane, AustraliaThe reason it sounds like Booque is just his accent. My grandad says it the same way.
  • Ellen from Nashville, TnCatherine, 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.
  • Natalia from Sydney, AustraliaI love Paul's accent when he says "book"- it sounds like "booque". It's so cute.
  • Martin Bonica from Sterling, VaKay never said he believed it. Myself, I find it an amusing fiction. Interesting, yes, but fiction.
  • Scott Baldwin from Edmonton, CanadaActually,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...
  • Mia from Elk River, MnThe Paul is Dead rumors are dead themselves, so get with the times and GET OVER IT
  • Scott Baddwin from Edmonton, EnglandKay,Don't believe everything u hear,Mabye the person who posted that "P.I.D" was lying!
  • Alyssa from Georgetown, TxHAHAH 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
  • Kay from Wakefield, MaAccording 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.
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