“Lovely Rita” is a Beatles’ song on their “Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” album from 1967. Indeed, the song is about a female traffic warden who gave Paul McCartney a parking ticket outside the Abbey Road Studios. But, instead of getting angry, Paul wrote a song about her. When asked why he called her Rita, Paul said, “Well, she looked like a Rita to me”.
Recorded: 23rd, 24th February; 7th, 21st March, 1967
Studio: EMI Studios, London
Genre: Psychedelic rock, music hall
Track Duration: 2:42
Record Label: Parlophone
Producer: George Martin
Engineer: Geoff Emerick
John Lennon: backing vocal, vocal percussion, acoustic rhythm guitar, also the comb and tissue paper kazoo
George Harrison: backing vocal, acoustic rhythm guitar, also the comb and tissue paper kazoo
Ringo Starr: drums, also the comb and tissue paper kazoo
George Martin: piano
Written and sung by Paul McCartney, the song credits go to Lennon-McCartney, of course. During the song, McCartney shows affection towards a female traffic warden, Meta Davies. In short, the term “meter maid” is American slang for what the British call a female traffic warden.
“There was a story in the paper about ‘Lovely Rita’, the meter maid. She’s just retired as a traffic warden. The phrase ‘meter maid’ was so American that it appealed, and to me a ‘maid’ was always a little sexy thing: ‘Meter maid. Hey, come and check my meter, baby.’ I saw a bit of that, and then I saw that she looked like a ‘military man’.”
The Beatles are always newsworthy, of course, and the fact that Paul McCartney got a parking ticket made headlines.
“His car was parked on a meter where the time had expired. I had to make out a ticket which, at the time, carried a 10 shilling fine. I’d just put it on the windscreen when Paul came along and took it off. He looked at it and read my signature which was in full, because there was another M Davies on the same unit. As he was walking away, he turned to me and said, ‘Oh, is your name really Meta?’ I told him that it was. We chatted for a few minutes and he said, ‘That would be a good name for a song. Would you mind if I use it?’ And that was that. Off he went.”
A Hard Day’s Write, Steve Turner
The Beatles began recording “Lovely Rita” on the 23rd February, 1967, in Studio Two of the EMI Studios, London during the 7.00pm–3.45am session. They recorded eight takes of which the last one was suitable for the rhythm track while on the next day, Paul McCartney recorded the lead vocals.
On the 7th March, they returned back to the song to make special sound effects for it such as the various moaning and groaning. Then on the 21st of March, George Martin recorded the piano solo ready for the final mix.