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Paul McCartney said one song from The BeatlesSgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band (1967) was inspired by an American phrase. Paul subsequently said he used the phrase because he thought American phrases were funny. The tune impacted the English language.

A vinyl copy of The Beatles’ ‘Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band’
The Beatles’ ‘Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band’ | SSPL/Getty Images

Paul McCartney thought there was something sexual about a phrase used in The Beatles’ ‘Sgt. Pepper’

In the 1997 book Paul McCartney: Many Years From Now, Paul discussed one of the songs from Sgt. Pepper. “‘Lovely Rita‘ was occasioned by me reading that in America they call traffic wardens ‘meter maids,’ and I thought, God, that’s so American!

“Also to me ‘maid’ had sexual connotations, like a French maid or a milkmaid, there’s something good about ‘maid,’ and ‘meter’ made it a bit more official, like the meter in a cab; the meter is running, meter maid,” he continued. “Hearing that amused me.”

Paul McCartney said antagonistic feelings toward meter maids inspired The Beatles’ ‘Lovely Rita’

Paul discussed British and American English. “In England you hear those American phrases and they enter our vocabulary,” he said. “We let them in because we’re amused, it’s not because we love them or want to use them, it’s just because it’s funny.”

Paul discussed the public’s attitude towards meter maids. “I remember one night just going for a walk and working on the words as I walked,” he said. “This was about the time that parking meters were coming in; before that we’d been able to park freely, so people had quite an antagonistic feeling towards these people.” According to the 1998 Smithsonian book Drive, the phrase “meter maid” existed since the late 1950s, but The Beatles popularized it in “Lovely Rita.”


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How ‘Lovely Rita’ and ‘Sgt. Pepper’ performed on the pop charts in the United States and the United Kingdom

“Lovely Rita” was never a single, so it did not chart on the Billboard Hot 100. The tune appeared on Sgt. Pepper. The album was No. 1 on the Billboard 200 for 15 weeks, staying on the chart for a total of 233 weeks.

“Lovely Rita” was not a single in the United Kingdom either; therefore, The Official Charts Company reports it did not chart there. Meanwhile, Sgt. Pepper topped the U.K chart for 28 weeks, staying on the chart for a total of 277 weeks.

Like most other Beatles songs, “Lovely Rita” inspired covers. One of them was for the Fab Four tribute album With a Little Help From My Fwends. The cover was a collaboration between The Flaming Lips, Tegan and Sara, and Stardeath and White Dwarfs. Fats Domino, Roy Wood of the Electric Light Orchestra, and Cheap Trick also recorded versions of “Lovely Rita.”

“Lovely Rita” wasn’t one of The Beatles’ many hits; however, it had an impact.