Dear Prudence

Album: The White Album (1968)


  • 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.

    According to American flautist Paul Horn, who was also with them in Rishikesh, 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."
  • 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.'"

    Prudence Farrow explained years later that she was just trying to take Transcendental Meditation seriously. She said in Mojo magazine, September 2008: "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."
  • 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. "He was so fascinated by fingerstyle guitar that he immediately started to write in a different color and was very inspired," Donovan said in his Songfacts interview. "That's what happens when you learn a new style."

    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.
  • 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. >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Breanna - Henderson, NV
  • 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."

Comments: 87

  • Dan from Louisville, KyNeed to dispel the myth that John said "Ringo wasn't even the best drummer in the Beatles". He never said that and it's never been traced to any interview or writer. The only quote from John that matters was the one he gave in 1980 when he said "Ringo is a damn good drummer"; and Paul was a damn good bass player".
  • Barry from Sauquoit, NyOn March 15th 1970, "Dear Prudence" b/w "O-O-H Child" by the Five Stairsteps entered Billboard's Hot Top 100 chart at position #85; fifteen weeks later on July 12th, 1970 it peaked at #8 {for 2 weeks} and spent 16 weeks on the Top 100...
    And it reached #14 on Billboard's R&B Singles chart...
    Between 1966 and 1971 the Chicago soul group had fifteen Top 100 records; eight using the name The Five Stairsteps, six known as The Five Stairsteps and Cubie, and then with their last charted record it was just The Stairsteps.
  • Richard from La, CaDear Christian from Berlin, Germany. There is absolutely no resemblance between Donovan's Turquoise and The Beatle's Dear Prudence. Yikes.
  • Jeffrey Boe from Campbell, Cagee, lot's of people thought is was about 'the gay beatle'
  • Christian from Berlin, GermanyThe guitar pattern for this song borrows liberally from Donovan's "Turquoise".
  • Gryffin from Bridgewater, NjI was young and stupid when I bought the White Album, thinking it was, like the Red Album and Blue Album, a sort of greatest hits collection. (Yeah, I know, I was quite daft then.) The moment I hear "Dear Prudence," it struck me. Even now, forty years later, it's one of my favorite Beatles songs. The way it builds from a subtle guitar finger-pick riff up til the last chorus is just brilliant.

    As for Macca's drumming, I always thought it was Ringo, and was always amazed how good it was. So there's that.

    Considering the tension between John and Paul, it's almost amazing how well they fit together on this song. With the simple-yet-strong drum line, and the powerful bass line, it's one of the most effective Lennon songs of that era.
  • Olivia from Philadelphia, PaThis song is beautiful and makes me feel so happy!
  • Jessica from Kannapolis, NeI agree with patrick youve got a really good opinon
  • George from Belleville, NjBrian from Boston, I agree,that was well said on both of your comments.You really know your music.
  • Eric from Philadelphia, PaJohn wrote the song while at Rishikesh, and according to Gina Catena, who was born and raised in the TM movement, it didn't cheer Prudence up because she stayed in her hut meditating 12 hours a day. She didn't hear it till a couple years later, after it was released.

    One of the Beach Boys, Mike Love, was at there at the same time -- "Back in the USSR" was written for him -- but he wasn't involved with Prudence.
  • Brian from Boston, MaI really think that todays' music tends to lack a balance between good vocals and good instrumental performance. Even though I watch it myself I think that shows like American Idol need to take some of the blame. Today singers can become famous litterally overnight without having any knowlege of musical instruments or songwriting Because of this fast track to stardom they never put the time in to develop skills. I wonder what a song like Dear prudence would sound like today. It probably would sound perfect with all sorts of sythisized music but without a good instumental performance it would lack a soul. I know I sound like an old fart that only likes music of yesteryear but I am not. I love it when I hear an exciting new band the problem is that such finds seem to be more and more uncommon today. I admire musicians not just people that have a good voice.
  • Brian from Boston, Maincredible guitar in this song.I have recently learned to play this myself.The main acoustic guitar part is amazing because it almost sounds like two guitars. This song uses drop d tuning which means the low E string is tuned to D. As a result it sounds like two guitars one playing the high strings and the other playing the low strings I have read that Donavan had inspired this song.He was with the Beatles in India and had showed John some different fingerpicking parts.To those just learning guitar I encourage them to learn this song. Their is really only one fingerpicking pattern for all the chords and one you learn it you have pretty much mastered the song. It sounds amazing and it sounds much more intricate and complicated than it realy is.This is definatly one of my favorite Beatles songs and that is saying a lot.
  • Tim from Mastic Beach, Nyi may be like a ninties baby but i love these guys... this song reminds me of a girl tht i think of a lot and its just great. its so much fun on guitar too
  • George from Belleville, NjDear Prudence is a masterpiece,simple as that.I agree with Robb from N.Y. that this is the best song on the White Album.I am also touched by the comment made by Prudence from AZ. The Beatles songs touch our lives in different ways,they were given the gift of music.
  • Mike182 from Pittsburgh, PaI always contend this is the first new wave or alternative sounding recorded song. If you listen to the songs structure with a separate melodic rolling bass line and simple repetitive rhythm guitar with a punctuating lead guitar. This song formed the basic blueprint that alot of bands would later use.
  • Ricky from Fort Worth, TxI remember making daisy chains when I was kid from real daisies. In fact, there's a picture of one in Wikipedia. It's also know as a garland.
  • Theresa from Murfreesboro, TnWho said Lennon couldn't write a sensitive song?
  • Viv from Minneapolis, MnMy cousin and his wife liked this song so much, they named their only daughter Prudence. I think she hates the name, but it's the thought that counts!! :) I think she will appreciate it more when she is older. It's one of the best songs Lennon ever penned, IMHO
  • Brian from Alluhrst, Njandy, it has nothing to do with drugs
  • Andy from Lake City, Fllennon's trying to get conservative girls to loosen up and get stoned now and then ("see you smile" "the birds WILL sing" "clouds WILL be a daisy chain" "open up your eyes and look aroud (using altered brain chemistry) billy joel paid homage to this in "only the good die young" both guys were desperately trying to corrupt the few moral girls left.
  • Chloe from St. Louis, Moi absolutely adore this song. whenever we're having a gloomy day, my friends and i start singing this as we walk down the hall at school- we get some wierd looks from the younger kids. it always cheers us up, though. in response to your comment, tay from ca, in my mind they ARE alive. theyll never really die with songs like this still obsessed over 40 years later- i never really register that theyre dead in my own mind.
  • Linc from Beaumont, TxI can hardly think of a Beatle's song that doesn't put me in a good mood.
  • Bob from Sayreville, NjIt's fellow Liverpudlian Jackie Lomax on backing vocals (look around, round, round bit)
    Look it up if you don't believe!
  • Frank from Boston, MaI knew Prudence at the very moment this song was being written. But I didn't know it at the time (ugh). She never mentioned knowing or meeting the Beatles to me. I knew she was Mia's sister, so made her a bit of a celebrity there on the job. Worked with her at Harvard Computing Ctr. in Camb. MA. I remember her as a bright, shy girl (19ish at the time). Didn't have Mia's looks, but great girl! Geez, if I could only go back in time. LOL!
  • Patrick from Southhapton, NyThe song was started about a woman, but Lennon tightly ties "thinking before you act" (PRUDENCE), instead into a world where a little

    prudence can show you about the wind and the sky and life coming out to play!!! all while doing two ideas at once! HIS FIRST EFFORT AT TRUE BRILLIANCE. HE becons us as friends that prudence is a part of everything!
  • Tay from San Diego, CaI love this song, its just beautiful. It always cheers me up. It always makes me think john and gorge are alive. I wish i lived in the 60s.
  • John from New York, NyI think Paul did a heck of a job filling in for Ringo. When did he learn to play the drums so well? Anyways, probably one of the best songs ever.
  • Kristen from Philadelphia, Paone of the best songs ever written,
    extremely beautiful
  • Flavia from Bologna, ItalyI love this song, Lennon was a genius. I sing it to my little niece when she's sad :)
  • Lateeka from Kelowna, Canadathe sun is up, the sky is blue, its beautiful and so are you, dear prudence, wont you come out to play? What a classic
  • Wayne from Crockett, TxTo Forrest concerning the "daisy chain" definition. I suspect that when John wrote the lyrics, he had in mind the simplest definition, which is simply a chain of flowers forming a ring.

    Great song that I enjoy listening to.
  • Tony from Carlsbad, CaIf the baby my girlfriend and I are having turns out to be a girl, we decided to name her Prudence. We love this song and the happy feelings we get from hearing it....we hope she will too.
  • Prudence from Glen Cove, NyThis song has haunted me since elementary school. Everyone thought that my name Prudence was a weird name and I never liked it because it was different. My mom says that she always knew my name was going to be Prudence because of this Beatles song and after listening to the song a few times recently, I have learned to appreciate my name more. So I guess, thank you John Lennon :)
  • Forrest from Rochester, MnDoesn't the phrase "Daisy Chain" have something to do with an orgy?
  • Ben from Chicago, United StatesI hear that this song was about Paul or John (can't remember) talking about one of the Beach Boys girlfriends, don't know if i should believe that or not...
  • George from Little Rock, ArThis is the song that got me liking the Beatles. Whenever I'm in a bad mood, I play this. One of their better efforts.
  • Emily from Charlotte, NcAn absolutely perfect classic. I've been listening to it since the late 60's (almost 40 years)....and if I make it 40 more, I'll still be listening to it.
  • Smitty from Calgary, CanadaThis is one of my alltime favourite songs ever. Funny thing I was watching Two and a Half Men today and Charlie was playing his piano and this smoking hot girl leans over and says "I dated a bass player, he wrote me a song, Dear Prudence". silly writers Paul didn't write this amazing song :p
  • Charlie from New York, Ny... And listening to the drumming on this song, you can understand why Lennon made that remark (half-jokingly or not). Paul McCartney's drumming is brilliant ... the timing is perfect, especially on the cymbals ... the crescendo of drum fills that define the ending piece of the song are simply spectacular, and they make you feel that perhaps Kieth Moon was sitting in for the 'Dear Prudence' session, when in fact it was the underrated McCartney.
  • Andrew from Indianapolis, InI once heard in an interview in the 70's a reporter asked lennon if he thought that ringo starr was the best drummer in the world and he jokingly said back that he wasn't even the best drummer in the beatles. Refering to mccartney drumming on this song. if this is true it shows how funny lennon really was even though he was at times egotistical
  • Bryan from New York, NyThis is one of the most misinterpreted songs by some people. I've heard people that say it's about a guy trying to get sex. Dear Prudence (which can mean caution, i.e. prude) won't you come out to play(disregard your values and have sex.) Quite interesting if you think about it, although proven to be incorrect
  • Cove from Keizer, Orpaul in apple valley, in donovan's autobiography (2005) he said he showed him one day an john came back three days later, having mastered it. donovan also says that dear prudence was written within days.
  • Mia from Boston, MaPerhaps this is purely coincidence, but in the 1800's Lucy Larcom wrote a poem, "A Little Old Girl," about a young girl named Prudence, forced to give up her childhood to soon. "What is this round world to Prudence...The summer skies are blue... Something more has haunted Prudence/ In the song of bird and bee/ In the low wind's dreamy whisper..."
  • Allen from Bethel, AkHas anyone ever had to have one of those "Baby: Think It Over" babies? Anyway, when I had to care for one of those, I named mine Prudence, after this song. Hah!
  • Buzz from Towntown, MiJust another amazing beatles song.
  • Ringo from Liverpool, EnglandI wish i could bring me mates, george and john, back.
  • Josie from Funkytown, NcI love this song! It's the best track on the White Album hands down.
  • Prudence from Tucson, AzHere's my Prudence story of how I got my name...Prudence. My parents were expecting a boy; however upon delivery they were shocked to receive a daughter. The song Dear Prudence was playing in the waiting room where my dad was awaiting my arrival. This is how I got my name. It was until I was 14 and a few days before Christmas that year, that my Dad and I sat by the stereo and I heard the song for the first time in my life. I still remember him saying, "I named you Prudence for a reason. It is up to you to figure out and live up to it." That was 15 years ago. My Dad, unfortunatley passed away 9 months ago - but that moment in time of us by the stereo I will never forget.
  • Izzy from Buffalo, Nypaul mccartney was drinking coke when john first told him about this song
  • Izzy from Buffalo, Nyjohn makes this song just perfect. he has the right sort of voice, if paul sang it it would sound like a little kid song about a crush with his boyish voice. but johns deeper, yet still light voice makes if fantastic! i love it, its the perfect thing to play on rainy days!
  • Joel Schmendrick from Ottawa, Irelandinteresting,very interesting
  • Linus from Hamilton, On, CanadaI have also read on more reliable sources that this song in fact did not cheer poor Prudence Farrow up.
  • Zach from Philly, KsGOD prudence is such an ugly name but cool song
  • Paul from Apple Valley, MnI've heard that the acoustic finger-picking pattern John uses on this song was taught to him by Donovan while they were in india. John uses the same basic pattern on "Julia" and also solo songs like "oh my love" and "look at me." I learned the guitar pattern and can see why he was quite fond of it, it's addicting! One of my favorite songs of all time.
  • Ash from Charleston, WvJoyce, you're probably thinking of "Martha, My Dear" from the same album. Paul wrote that one about his dog.
  • Shobu from Trenton, NjProbably the most perfect song ever recorded. The Beatles at their apex.
  • Joyce from Indianapolis, InI now feel kind of silly because I always thought this song was about Pauls sheepdog named "Prudence" - I can't even remember where I heard that - but it's always been a favorite for me
  • Sylvia from London, EnglandAw...this song is so sad sometimes..
  • Sylvia from London, EnglandMy one wish would be to bring George Harrison back to life, with John Lennon and Linda McCartney second.

    Oh yes, and love the song!
  • Robb from Hamburg, NyI would also like to add that I think this is the best song on The White Album, and may be one of Lennon's best songs with The Beatles
  • Robb from Hamburg, NyWhat is interesting about this song, is that Paul is providing the drum track. This was the period of The White Album where Ringo left briefly. I have always felt that while Paul was the best overal musician in the group, he did not match up to John in terms of writing ability. John also seems like the most witty and intelligent.
  • Dirk from Nashville, TnThe fade-out at the end of this song is abnormally long. The reason? If you turn up the volume and listen, there is a flubbed guitar note at the very end. John wanted that left in the record, just to see if anybody noticed (just because that's the sort of thing John Lennon did. You gotta think that, had email and the internet existed back in the 1960s, we wouldn't half the stuff John left us. He would've spent his evenings playing games and sending out mass-mailings of humorous communications instead of playing musical head games with future generations.)... Just a thought.
  • Kalissa from New York City, NyI agree with you 100% Dean!
    It is so sad that the greatest person
    (in my opinion) got killed. Who know what the world would have been like today if he was still alive.
  • Eloise from London, EnglandI love the Beatles, love this song - but gotta say the 80's version by Siouxsie & The Banshees was way better, without tampering too much with the basic form of the song.
  • Melissa from Fairborn, OhI love the bridge part when George Harrison accidentally sang in a baritone voice especailly the Look Around part.
  • Nathan from Defiance, OhThe first time I heard this song, I didn't like it. After a few more plays, I warmed up. I now consider it one of the best songs on that album (thats saying a lot).
  • Laura from Santa Fe, NmJohn sounds so nice. I'm gonna cry now.
  • Dylan from King City, CanadaThis is Julian Lennon's favourite song. (Julian was John's first son)
  • Kat from Tbilisi, OtherYes this song is AMAZING. ANd all Beatles songs are.
  • Stefanie Magura from Rock Hill, Sci agree with you completely Shaun.
  • Stefanie Magura from Rock Hill, ScHey Ben! BTW, why do you think it's so crappy?
  • Sean from Trenton, Njthis is probably the greatest beatle song. the bass line rules, the guitar part rules, the drums rule, and the vocals are amazing as usual. excellent song, it's one of those songs you can't get tired of listening to.
  • Craig from Madison, WiI recently discovered an instrumental cover of Prudence by Hungarian pschedelic-folk guitarist Gabor Szabo from his album "1969." The concept of hungarian psychedelic folk guitarists may sound dreadful to some (including myself), but it's astounding. Hard to find but well worth it.
  • Nessie from Sapporo, JapanGreat guitar work (acoustic and electric, rhythm and lead), fine bass playing. It all came together to make one of their most successful and original songs. Ironic, since this is when things were falling apart and they were at each others' throats.
  • Nicole from New York City Full Time/boston(my Hometown) In The SummerThis is one of their best songs. It amazes me everytime I hear it.

    Boston, Ma
  • John from Melbourne, AustriaBeatles best work
  • Jesse from New York, Nygreat song, one of my favs. I love how they extend the end of some of the words, its genius!
  • Ellen from Nashville, TnThe Jerry Garcia Band covered this. It was quite a disappointment on Jerry's part
  • Ellen from Nashville, Tnthis is my #1 beatles song, and it was one of john lennon's favorites too, which makes me love it even more.
  • Annabelle from Alliston, CanadaSuch a fantastic song! One of John Lennon's best ballads and one of my favorites from the White Album. It's so uplifting and encouraging. I especially like how it begins with gentle plucking then builds gradually adding more instruments and a denser sound as it progresses: drums, guitar, louder harmonies and so forth.

    Simple yet classic.
  • Carroll from Toms River, NjLeslie West also covered this song. (a solo album...not with Mountain) but didn't do it justice.
  • Tyson from Ruidoso, NmA song that my little brother used to make fun of, which made me love the song even more.
  • David from Adelaide, United StatesDoug Parkinson, an Aussie blues and rock legend, did a fantastic cover of this. Earthier and gutsier than the Beatles.
  • Krie from Ft. Drum, NyThis song was covered by 80's goth band Siouxsie and the Banshees.
  • Bill from Montgomery, NyThe first song I ever sang in a band,I have a very special place in my heart for this song.
  • Matt from Lincoln, NeLennon originally wrote the song in a matter of minutes while riding in a car to the studio.
  • Patrick from Durham, NcOne of my favorite Beatle songs. If it hadn't been for this song I probably wouldn't have given the Beatles a second thought at the period of musical upbringing I was in.
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