When was it recorded? Aug. 28-30, 1968
When was it first released, and on which album? Nov. 22, 1968 on “The Beatles”
Who wrote it? Lennon
Have I heard this song before? Probably
What my research dug up:
(Shhh, it’s still Thursday. Not for long, but technically speaking, it is.)
John wrote “Dear Prudence” for Prudence Bruns (nee Farrow), who was studying under Maharishi Mahesh Yogi in India at the same time as the Beatles.
Prudence is probably best known as the younger sister of actress Mia Farrow. However, Prudence is an accomplished American author, meditation teacher, and film producer. Having first studied Transcendental Meditation (TM for short [not TM as in trademarked as my spellcheck seems to think]) in 1966, she has been teaching TM in Florida since 1970 and shows no signs of stopping any time soon.
Prudence, Mia, and their brother John traveled to Rishikesh for a Transcendental Meditation teacher-training course on Jan. 23, 1968. The Beatles arrived Feb. 16 & 20.
Quoth Wikipedia, Prudence “turned into a near recluse” and “rarely came out” of her cottage.
“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…” — Prudence Farrow (Steve Turner, A Hard Day’s Write)
John and George were nominated to check on her and attempt to draw her out. My favorite quote from John regarding the situation — “She’d been locked in for three weeks and was trying to reach God quicker than anyone else”.
“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.” — Prudence Farrow (Steve Turner, A Hard Day’s Write)
The Wiki points out the song’s descending chromatic bass line sounds like that of “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds,” which it really does.
On Day 19 I blogged about the Beatles song “Back in the U.S.S.R.,” the ending of which fades into “Dear Prudence” (the second song on the White Album). I also talked in that post about how Ringo was absent from these two recordings, but it bears repeating that Paul plays the drums on this song.
“Dear Prudence” was not technically released as a single but it was played on the radio following the White Album’s release.
Quoth Wikipedia, “John is said to have selected it as one of his favorite songs by the Beatles… [and] according to Julian Lennon, it is one of his favorite songs written by his father.” I’m hopping on the Lennon family bandwagon, and with good reason — this song is sublime. I can’t say for sure it’s my favorite Beatles song or even definitively in my Top Ten, but it’s definitely ahead in the running.