“Dear Prudence” is a song which is on the 1968 double album, “The Beatles” aka the “White Album”. Punk band, Siouxsie and the Banshees also recorded the song and took it to number 3 in the UK charts during 1983.
Release Date: 22nd November, 1968
Recorded: 28th-30th August, 1968
Studio: Trident Studios, London
Track Duration: 3:56
Record Label: Apple
Producer: George Martin
Engineer: Barry Sheffield
John Lennon: double-tracked lead vocal, backing vocal, rhythm guitars
Paul McCartney: harmony and backing vocals, drums, bass guitar, piano, tambourine, handclaps
George Harrison: harmony and backing vocals, rhythm guitar, lead guitars, tambourine, handclaps
Mal Evans, Jackie Lomax, John McCartney: backing vocals, handclaps, unspecified percussion
Written by John Lennon, although credited to the Lennon-McCartney partnership, “Dear Prudence” is the second song on the “White Album” after “Back In The USSR“.
Inspiration for the song came from their time in India while on a meditation course with Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. The subject in question is actress Mia Farrow’s sister, Prudence Farrow. John Lennon and George Harrison were her “team buddies” but her obsessive attitude made her hide away her bungalow for days on end while meditating intensely.
The band members would often try and coax her out of her lonely place so that she could socialise with others. Hence, the song, “Dear Prudence, won’t you come out to play?”
“Dear Prudence is me. Written in India. A song about Mia Farrow’s sister, who seemed to go slightly barmy, meditating too long, and couldn’t come out of the little hut that we were livin’ in. They selected me and George to try and bring her out because she would trust us. If she’d been in the West, they would have put her away.
We got her out of the house. She’d been locked in for three weeks and wouldn’t come out, trying to reach God quicker than anybody else. That was the competition in Maharishi’s camp: who was going to get cosmic first. What I didn’t know was I was already cosmic. [Laughs.]”
All We Are Saying, David Sheff
Imagine being the subject of a Beatles’ song, well some people are just so lucky. Indeed, it thrilled Prudence Farrow:
“Being on that course was more important to me than anything in the world. I was very focused on getting in as much meditation as possible, so that I could gain enough experience to teach it myself. I knew that I must have stuck out because I would always rush straight back to my room after lectures and meals so that I could meditate. John, George and Paul would all want to sit around jamming and having a good time and I’d be flying into my room. They were all serious about what they were doing but they just weren’t as fanatical as me…..
At the end of the course, just as they were leaving, George mentioned that they had written a song about me but I didn’t hear it until it came out on the album. I was flattered. It was a beautiful thing to have done.”
A Hard Day’s Write, Steve Turner
Once The Beatles returned from India they had a lot of material to work with. So, they met at George Harrison’s bungalow, Kinfauns, in Esher, Surrey, for rehearsals. Indeed, John Lennon performed “Dear Prudence” as a solo with his acoustic guitar at those rehearsals. On that commercially available recording, Lennon gives us a brief commentary about the subject at the end.
The Beatles began recording “Dear Prudence” on the 28th August, 1968, at the Trident Studios in London during the 5.00pm-7.00am session. They only recorded one take because the studio’s eight-track tape recorder allowed much more flexibility.
They were able to complete the track with further overdubs the next day and on the 30th. Those overdubs obviously included the vocals and more instrumentation.
Just to point out that after their return from India, The Beatles began to show signs of stress. This became especially noticeable while recording the “White Album”. As a result, Ringo Starr temporarily walked out so he does not feature on this song or “Back in the USSR”. His replacement on drums was Paul McCartney.