Lovely Rita - The Beatles

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"Lovely Rita" - The Beatles (1967)

“Lovely Rita” came to McCartney following a remark to him from a visitor from the US after seeing a female meter maid that, “I see you’ve got meter maids over here these days.

In the mid-80s he admitted that, while the song was “tongue in cheek”, it got taken for real.

In 1980 Lennon said he didn’t like “Lovely Rita” because it was not based on personal experience and dismissed McCartney’s creativity because he was disturbed about the fact that it was an invented story about a third party.

He added:

“That’s Paul writing a pop song. He makes em up like a novelist. You hear lots of McCartney-influenced songs on the radio now. These stories about boring people doing boring things - being postmen and secretaries and writing home. I’m not interesting in wrting third party songs. I like to write about me.”

Musicologist Tim Riley calls the track “a cartoon, a rock-’n’ roll ragtime with a tongue-in-cheek narrative that brings the cardboard sitcom to life.”

McCartney and George Martin both played piano. During the final session where the harmonies were being added, combs and paper were used to create odd background noises which sounded like kazoos.

George Martin asked an assistant to find a metal comb, and then he and four Beatles went into the bathroom of the studio and tore up small pieces of toilet paper. They then had to find the right combination of how many pieces of tissue to use over the combs.

Author Mark Hertsgaard writes that on the day the song was recorded, they got slightly carried away striving to outdo each other in wackiness. Hence, the various groans, panting and other vocal oddities that pepper the song, especially during the fade-out.

This track was during the time when McCartney began the practice of recording his bass last, after all the other parts were already committed to tape. Being able to work off all the other elements of the track - including lead and backing vocals - enabled him to hear the song as a whole and therefore create a melodic bass line that perfectly complemented the final arrangement.

The song has an irresistible charm to it which renders it extremely likeable and fit in well on Sgt. Peppers as it is very “peppery” in its very essence.

The song is without illusion. Rita is a good-time girl who doesn’t need or get emotional commitment. But it also doesn’t pretend that lovely Rita is more than an alleviation of loneliness and distress.

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