Dear Prudence

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This article is about the song by the Beatles. For the advice column, see Dear Prudence (advice column). For the television movie, see Dear Prudence (film).
"Dear Prudence"
Song by the Beatles from the album The Beatles
Released 22 November 1968
Recorded 28–30 August 1968
Genre Rock, pop[1]
Length 3:56
Label Apple Records
Writer Lennon–McCartney
Producer George Martin
The Beatles track listing

"Dear Prudence" is a song written by John Lennon,[2] and credited to Lennon–McCartney. It was released by the Beatles as the second track on their 1968 double-disc album entitled The Beatles, commonly known as The White Album.

Background[edit]

The subject of the song is Prudence Farrow, actress Mia Farrow's sister, who was present when the Beatles went to India to study with Maharishi Mahesh Yogi.[2]

Farrow became so serious about her meditation that she "turned into a near recluse" and "rarely came out" of the cottage she was living in. John Lennon was asked to "contact her and make sure she came out more often to socialize". As a result, Lennon wrote the song "Dear Prudence". In the song Lennon asks Farrow to "open up your eyes" and "see the sunny skies" reminding her that she is "part of everything". The song was said to be "a simple plea to a friend to 'snap out of it'".[3] Lennon said later that "She'd been locked in for three weeks and was trying to reach God quicker than anyone else".[4] According to Farrow: "I would always rush straight back to my room after lectures and meals so 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".[5]

Lennon did play the song for Farrow while they were in India together. According to Farrow, "I was flattered. It was a beautiful thing to have done".[3] The lyrics of the song are simple and innocent and praise the beauty of nature in the lines: "The sun is up, the sky is blue, it's beautiful, and so are you".[6]

Recording[edit]

They recorded the song at Trident Studios in London on 28, 29 and 30 August 1968.[7] Utilising state-of-the-art eight-track recording equipment, the basic track included finger picking guitar performed by John Lennon as well as George Harrison on the lead guitar, plus Paul McCartney playing the drums in place of Ringo Starr, who had temporarily left the Beatles. The next day, McCartney performed and recorded the bass track and Lennon recorded additional layers to his vocals. Handclapping, cowbell and tambourine were then added by Harrison and McCartney. On the last day of the recording session, piano and flügelhorn tracks were recorded by McCartney.[3][6]

The complete list of recording session personnel included:[8][3][6]

On The Beatles album, the song was sequenced as the second track on side one, its introduction cross-faded with the sounds of a jet aircraft landing which conclude the opening track, "Back in the U.S.S.R."[6]

The song was first played on the radio in November and December of that year.[6]

Other[edit]

Lennon is said to have selected it as one of his favourite songs by the Beatles.[6] In 1987, Lennon's original handwritten lyrics of the song, containing 14 lines and some "doodles" in the margin, sold at auction for US $19,500.[9] The song is playable in The Beatles: Rock Band.[10]

The song is one of 17 songs recorded by the Beatles that mentions the words "sun" or "sunshine" and according to Julian Lennon, it is one of his favourite songs written by his father.[3][6]

The descending chromatic bass-line in the song is similar to that of "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds".[11]

Cover versions[edit]

"Dear Prudence"
Single by Siouxsie and the Banshees
from the album Hyæna
B-side "Tattoo", "There's a Planet in my Kitchen"
Released 23 September 1983
Format 7" single, 12" single
Recorded 1983
Genre Post-punk, new wave
Length 3:48
Label Polydor
Writer(s) Lennon–McCartney
Producer(s) Siouxsie and the Banshees
Mike Hedges
Siouxsie and the Banshees singles chronology
"Melt! / Il Est Ne Le Divin Enfant"
(1982)
"Dear Prudence"
(1983)
"Swimming Horses"
(1984)

When Siouxsie and the Banshees released their version of the song in 1983, it became one of their biggest hits, peaking at number three in the UK singles chart.[6]

Jerry Garcia, a member of the Grateful Dead, was a fan of the song and is said to have called it "one of his all-time personal favorites". The Jerry Garcia Band covered the song in extended, improvised versions at concerts between 1979 and Garcia’s death in 1995. The song was recorded for the 1991 album Jerry Garcia Band.[6]

The song was performed by T.V. Carpio, Evan Rachel Wood, Jim Sturgess, and Dana Fuchs in Julie Taymor's 2007 film Across the Universe.

The song was used in commercial advertising by the US wireless phone company, Cellular South, in a TV commercial during 2008.[6]

The song has also been recorded by the following artists:[6]

Year Artist Release Notes
1968 Ramsey Lewis Mother Nature's Son
1969 Doug Parkinson in Focus single
1969 Gábor Szabó 1969
1970 Kenny Rankin Family
1970 The Five Stairsteps "O-o-h Child" single Released as a b-side, it reached #49 on its own on the R&B music charts.
1974 Katfish Single On Big Tree Records in North America and Philips in Europe—Charted to #53 on the Billboard Hot 100
1976 Leslie West The Leslie West Band
1983 Siouxsie and the Banshees single See information in box on right
1990 Trouble Tribe Trouble Tribe
1991 Sean Lennon Happy Birthday, John This CD released in Japan only. Co-produced by YMO member Haruomi Hosono
1991 Jaco Pastorius Live in New York City - Volume Two
1991 Jerry Garcia Band Jerry Garcia Band
1991 The Clarks The Clarks
1992 Hiram Bullock Way Kool Instrumental[12][13]
1998 Jeff Lorber Midnight Instrumental[14][15]
2001 Graham Central Station The Jam: The Larry Graham & Graham Central Station Anthology Studio out-take recorded in the 1970s
2001 Alanis Morissette Come Together: A Night for John Lennon's Words and Music A live all-star concert filmed for television
2002 Brad Mehldau Largo Instrumental
2007 Dana Fuchs, Evan Rachel Wood, Jim Sturgess, Joe Anderson and T.V. Carpio Across the Universe Soundtrack
2008 Hayley Legg Dear Prudence - Beatles Cover - Hayley Legg - YouTube
2009 Lau Arc Light Bonus track originally recorded for a Mojo magazine compilation
2010 Casey Mecija Sing Me To Sleep - Indie Lullabies Recorded for an American Laundromat Records charity compilation

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Robb 2001, pp. 380.
  2. ^ a b Sheff 2000, pp. 198–199.
  3. ^ a b c d e Here, There and Everywhere: the 100 best Beatles songs, Stephen J Spignesi, Michael Lewis, page 252
  4. ^ The American book of the Dead, Oliver Trager, page 90, Simon and Schuster, 1997
  5. ^ Doyle, Jack (27 July 2009). "Dear Prudence, 1967-1968". PopHistoryDig.com. Retrieved 15 May 2010. 
  6. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k The Pop History Dig, Dear Prudence
  7. ^ Lewisohn 1988, p. 152.
  8. ^ MacDonald 2005, p. 310.
  9. ^ Rimer 1987.
  10. ^ The Beatles Rockband Official Website
  11. ^ MacDonald, Ian, Revolution in the Head, pg 311, Pimlico 2005
  12. ^ "Way Kool overview". Allmusic.com. 
  13. ^ "Hiram Bullock Discography". HiramBullock.com. 
  14. ^ "Midnight overview". Allmusic.com. 
  15. ^ "Midnight - Jeff Lorber". JazzTimes.com.