On the agenda for today: recording backing vocals for “Lovely Rita.” This was not exactly mind-taxing, so there was a lot of opportunity to screw around. Says The Beatles Bible:

John Lennon led Paul McCartney and George Harrison as they sang, hummed, sighed, screamed, groaned, moaned and blew through a comb and toilet paper, all of which was treated with heavy tape echo.

The comb and paper can best be heard immediately before the line “When it gets dark I tow your heart away.” The Beatles’ assistant Mal Evans was sent to collect paper from Abbey Road’s lavatory. Stamped with the words “Property of EMI,” the paper was threaded into hair combs and blown, giving a kazoo-like effect.

Before reading this I’d never thought much before about the line “When it gets dark I tow your heart away.” A peculiar turn of phrase, that. There are a few odd lines in this song, in fact. What about:

In a cap she looked much older
And the bag across her shoulder
Made her look a little like a military man

So you’re into that, are you, Paulie? Older military men? Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

Another line that leaps out at me is:

When are you free to take some tea with me?

Had this song been written by Dirk McQuickly, it would take on a whole different meaning. (Note: Getting that reference requires one to have seen The Rutles, and if you haven’t, my God, what are you doing reading this? Go and rectify that situation immediately.)

Finally, consider the lines:

Got the bill and Rita paid it
Took her home I nearly made it
Sitting on the sofa with a sister or two

Is Paul suggesting here that he nearly made it with Rita and one or more of her sisters? Or Rita and one or more nuns? It all gets very kinky; maybe there’s more depth to “Lovely Rita” than I gave it credit for.

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