Paul McCartney Originally Wanted ‘Lovely Rita’ to Be a ‘Hate Song’

Paul McCartney wrote “Lovely Rita” for Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band and, like much of The Beatles’ music, it inspired fans to dig for deeper meaning. McCartney has denied some rumors about the song. For example, he did not write it about a real “meter maid.” McCartney has given background information about the song, though. He admitted that he hadn’t initially wanted to write a love song. His original vision was much angrier.

Paul McCartney didn’t initially intend for ‘Lovely Rita’ to be a love song
McCartney wrote “Lovely Rita” after discovering that Americans used the phrase “meter maid” to refer to female parking enforcement officers. He found the term so funny that he wanted to rhyme something with it.

“I was bopping about on the piano in Liverpool when someone told me that in America they call parking meter women meter maids,” McCartney said in a 1967 interview with The Observer (via The Paul McCartney Project). “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.’” While he initially wanted the listener to dislike Rita, he decided it would be better to make her a lovable character.

“And you wouldn’t be liking her, but then I thought that it would be better to love her and if she was very freaky too, like a military man with a bag on her shoulder,” he said. “A foot stomper, but nice.”

In the final version of the song, McCartney imagined someone falling for Rita
McCartney decided not to make a song about a traffic officer ruining someone’s day. Instead, the finished song has him falling for Rita.

“The song was imagining if someone was there taking down my number and I suddenly 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,’” he explained. “Tea, not pot.”

He noted that he meant for this to depict the shy office clerk actually asking Rita to tea. It was not, as some people thought, a reference to marijuana.

“It’s like saying, ‘Come out and cut the grass’ and then realizing that could be pot, or the old teapot could be something about pot,” he said. “But I don’t mind pot and I leave the words in. They’re not consciously introduced just to say pot and be clever.”

Paul McCartney said he didn’t mean for ‘Lovely Rita’ to be about a specific person
Another prevalent rumor about the song was that McCartney wrote it about someone he met in real life. He denied this.

“I remember one night just going for a walk and working on the words as I walked,” he said in the book Paul McCartney: Many Years From Now by Barry Miles. “It wasn’t based on a real person but, as often happened, it was claimed by a girl called Rita who was a traffic warden who apparently did give me a ticket, so that made the newspapers.” McCartney said any connection to the traffic warden was coincidental.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Mick Jagger John & Yoko’s Elvis Presley & Priscilla Presley