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"Dear Prudence"

Categories: Beatles songs

The tailing plane motors from Russia with love do land us squarely back in India, the delicate pickin' intro the result of lessons from Donovan while The Beatles were at the Maharishi's Rishikesh meditation camp, where "Dear Prudence" herself — Mia Farrow's sister — was also part of the group.

Prudence Farrow and Ringo Starr in India, 1968

Prudence (front left) with Ringo and others gathered in Rishikesh
When she failed to emerge from her hut for days on end, John was concerned that she'd "seemed to go slightly barmy, meditating too long". Prudence, however, has claimed that she was just trying to take the whole business seriously. Whatever the case, John made up the song on the spot, and serenaded her with an acoustic rendition in an attempt to sort her out:

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...

Paul reckoned it helped her open up her eyes a little, anyway. "Let's Be Natural", as Neil 'Nasty' McInnessson would later sublimely put it.

Gloriously demoed acoustically during The Esher Sessions, with John recounting the story over the close, it's omission from Anthology 2 was nowt short of criminal.

Once in the studio for the White sessions, the addition of multiple musical layers dressed Pru into one of the most elaborate psychedelic daisy-chain ballads ever to have been strung onto a record. In addition to his billowing bassline, Paul also provided the drums (Ringo still being temporarily 'quit'): along with the piano and — believe it or not — the flugelhorn.

George's sitaresque guitar fills over John(ovan)'s finger-pickin' are quite exquisite, with Ringo bringin' it all back home (with a can of Heinz Baked Beans): not least as it all swirls up to the final crescendo — with Beatle voices, percussion and handclaps being boosted by all and sundry there and then. Remnants of rumoured Lennison drum-takes are also possibly detectable amidst that glorious cacophony.

And JL's double-tracked vocal, as "part of everything", is surely enticing enough to coax even the most hardened of hermits out of hiding to

Look around-round-round-around-round...

Whatever its effect on DP, it has proved to be a popular song with the ladies: both Siouxsie Sioux and Alanis Morissette have covered it their ways.

George 'Lorreta' Martin also brought her very decisively back out to play nearly forty years on, coming together with "Cry Baby" on LOVE.

Let me see you smile again...
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