Beatles – Dear Prudence

I’m asked quite a bit…Max what is your favorite Beatle song? It’s hard to tell you because it changes from day to day. I would have to say A Day In The Life if I had to give one answer… but on certain days…this one would be it. Lennon to me was one of the best all time rock singers. He could do rock and pop/rock with ease. He never liked his voice and always wanted the producer George Martin to cover it up with echo or some effect.

The story behind this one is known to Beatle fans. They were in India with the Maharishi and were asked to meditate all day. Mia Farrow and her sister Prudence was there. Prudence was taking this very seriously and would not come out of her quarters and John wrote this song to cheer her up.

Image result for prudence farrow in india

American flautist Paul Horn, who was also with them in Rishikesh said that Prudence was a highly sensitive person, and by jumping straight into deep meditation, against the Maharishi’s advice, she had allowed herself to fall into a catatonic state.

Horn stated, “She was ashen-white and didn’t recognize anybody. She didn’t even recognize her own brother who was on the course with her. The only person she showed any slight recognition towards was Maharishi. We were all concerned about her and Maharishi assigned her a full-time nurse.”

The song was on their massive double album album “The Beatles” or better known as the White Album released in 1968. On this album you get a little bit of everything. 20’s style music, pop, folk, Avant Garde, rock, to hard rock.

Donovan was also there and taught John and Paul and guitar picking style called “clawhammer.” The clawhammer style, is played with the strumming hand formed into a claw, using the backs of the fingernails to strum down on the strings.

The song was not released as a single but remains a favorite album track.

Donovan:  “He was so fascinated by fingerstyle guitar that he immediately started to write in a different color and was very inspired” “That’s what happens when you learn a new style.”

Prudence Farrow: “They were trying to be cheerful, but I wished they’d go away. I don’t think they realized what the training was all about.”

From Songfacts

While Mia Farrow inspired such men as Andre Previn, Frank Sinatra and Woody Allen, her sister Prudence left her mark on John Lennon. According to Nancy de Herrera’s book, All You Need Is Love, Prudence met The Beatles on a spiritual retreat with their guru, Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, in India, which she attended with Mia. When Prudence, suffering depression, confined herself to her room, Lennon wrote this song hoping to cheer her up. It did.

Prudence Farrow wanted to “Teach God quicker than anyone else,” according to John Lennon. She would lock herself in her room trying to meditate for hours and hours. From A Hard Day’s Write, by Steve Turner: “At the end of the demo version of Dear Prudence John continues playing guitar and says: ‘No one was to know that sooner or later she was to go completely berserk, under the care of Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. All the people around were very worried about the girl because she was going insane. So, we sang to her.'”

Ringo had left the group as the White Album sessions got very tense, so Paul McCartney played drums. When Ringo came back a short time later, there were flowers on his drum kit welcoming him back.

According to the singer-songwriter Donovan, who was on the retreat in India with The Beatles, he taught John Lennon a “clawhammer” guitar technique that he used on this track. 

John Lennon’s handwritten lyrics were auctioned off for $19,500 in 1987.

Lennon considered this one of his favorites.

Siouxsie And The Banshees covered this in 1983. Their version went to #3 in the UK and became their biggest hit.

“Dear Prudence” was the second Beatles song that the Banshees had covered from their White Album. Previously, they’d recorded a version of “Helter Skelter” for their 1978 LP The Scream.

“Helter Skelter was very much part of our live show before we recorded it,” mused Siouxsie Sioux to TeamRock. “The great thing was that the two Beatles songs we chose – ‘Helter Skelter’ and ‘Dear Prudence’ – were not originally singles by The Beatles, so it wasn’t necessarily a surefire: ‘Oh, they’re doing a Beatles song.’ And it was also a bit irreverent as well, I suppose. A good test of doing a cover version is when people think that you’ve written it. Quite a lot of people thought Dear Prudence was an original.”

This song was in the movie Across the Universe, which was based on The Beatles music. In the movie, Prudence (played by T.V. Carpio) locked herself in a closet after discovering that Sadie and JoJo were together when she thought she loved Sadie. Lucy (Evan Rachel Wood), Jude (Jim Sturges), Sadie (Dana Fuges) and Max (Joe Anderson) sing this to make her feel better. It gets her out of the closet and they end the song at a anti-Vietnam War rally. 

Siouxsie and the Banshees’ take on the song added to The Beatles’ simple original arrangement. “It was kind of an undeveloped song on the White Album,” Siouxsie said. “and so there was a lot of scope to put in your own stuff, really. What did I want to bring? Oh, some psychedelic transformation there [laughing].”

“No, I think that actual track’s fairly restrained, simple and understated on the White Album,” she added. “I was listening to singles like Itchycoo Park by the Small Faces, so I think it was wanting to capture the 60s, and all that kind of phasing. Also, it was where we were at the time.”

Dear Prudence

Dear Prudence, won’t you come out to play?
Dear Prudence, greet the brand new day
The sun is up, the sky is blue
It’s beautiful and so are you
Dear Prudence, won’t you come out to play?

Dear Prudence, open up your eyes
Dear Prudence, see the sunny skies
The wind is low, the birds will sing
That you are part of everything
Dear Prudence, won’t you open up your eyes?

Look around, round (round, round, round)
(Round, round, round, round, round)
Look around, round, round (round, round)
(Round, round, round, round, round)
Look around

Dear Prudence, let me see you smile
Dear Prudence, like a little child
The clouds will be a daisy chain
So let me see you smile again
Dear Prudence, won’t you let me see you smile?

Dear Prudence, won’t you come out to play
Dear Prudence, greet the brand new day
The sun is up, the sky is blue
It’s beautiful and so are you
Dear Prudence, won’t you come out to play?

Author: Badfinger (Max)

Power Pop fan, Baseball fan, old movie and tv show fan... and a songwriter, bass and guitar player.

31 thoughts on “Beatles – Dear Prudence”

  1. Well, I just heard that students will soon be able to study The Beatles’ impact on music and heritage, as part of a unique new Masters programme being launched by the University of Liverpool.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Glad you liked it. This is just one of the reasons I love the White Album so much…you have Helter Skelter, Rocky Raccoon, and this on the same album…I love the variety…I agree on the influences.

      Liked by 2 people

  2. Not QUITE my favorite of theirs but in the top 5 for sure and far and away my pick off ‘The White Album’ . Oddly enough, a long back now – late-90s – I began writing a novel which I had determined would be called ‘Dear Prudence’… I had it set in a Peyton Place-like town called ‘Prudence.’ Never got it done though and while I was working on it, Douglas Coupland had a similar idea and did put out a novel called ‘Eleanor Rigby.’

    Liked by 2 people

    1. That is a good idea…that is automatically noticed so it’s not a bad idea. I would not discard that. It would come up in searches for sure.
      Sexy Sadie and this one are great John songs from the album…and Yer Blues


  3. One of the few Beatles covers where I prefer the cover – Siouxsie’s psychedelic cover and video was fab, and I didn’t know the Beatles version till I bought the White Album sometime in the 90’s – and I was a bit disappointed it wasn’t as all-out trippy as The Banshees. It’s a lovely gentle ballad though….

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Sometimes it depends on which one we hear first…I heard the Beatles first…although I like the cover…I like what they did with it…I have to go with John’s voice on this one. It’s hard for me to pick anything over John’s voice…John could be…with Van Morrison my favorite singers.

      One cover I like better is Joe Cocker’s cover of With A Little Help from my Friends.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Oh John is one of the all-time best singers, what he did on Twist And Shout is stunning, and few could do pathos like John singing wistfully 🙂 Joe Cocker is the other major cover I prefer, so different. There are loads of Beatles covers I love…but hardly any I could say have “improved” on the original. Racking my brain and can’t come up with any more other than songs they (Paul, usually) gave away to other acts, like It’s You, Goodbye, Come And Get It and where the Beatles versions are more demos than anything, where they exist.


  4. Not sure if I knew who this was about. If Prudence was anything like Mia (weak-minded) it’s no wonder the ministrations of the Maharishi drove her over the edge. I admire John for writing a song to try to draw her out of her shell. I can’t choose favorites on The White Album because I pretty much like all of the songs on it, each for different reasons, but Dear Prudence is up there.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank Christian! Yea the only one that stays at the top most of the time is A Day In The Life…that one is probably my all time favorite song. When Lennon starts off “I read the news” I get chills every time.

      Liked by 1 person

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