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    The Contemplative Story of Dear Prudence


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    I love the Beatles, and like many Beatles fans, I think The White Album is one of their great masterpieces. And one of the best songs on The White Album is, without question, “Dear Prudence.”

    But did you know that the song was influenced by the music of the Gypsies, Transcendental Meditation, and the daughter (and sister) of Hollywood celebrities?

    "Dear Prudence" by Prudence Bruns

    “Dear Prudence” by Prudence Bruns

    “Dear Prudence” was written in early 1968, when the Beatles were in India, while John and George were studying Transcendental Meditation with the Maharishi Mahesh Yoga. It was written for a woman named Prudence Farrow (Mia Farrow’s sister) who was there meditating as well, and became so immersed in her meditation practice that she rarely left her room. Hence John Lennon wrote a playful song for her, where he sings, “Dear Prudence, won’t you come out to play?” The music was inspired, at least in part, by a Gypsy style of guitar picking that John learned from the folk-rock musician Donovan, also studying with the Maharishi.

    While on the surface the song could be seen as a playful rebuke to excessive spirituality — Prudence, don’t waste your time meditating, come out to play! — at its heart “Dear Prudence” makes a powerful statement for an integral contemplative perspective: where Prudence (and by extension, anyone who listens to the song) is “part of everything” and is invited to “look around, round, round” and see the beauty in all things. The song is a reminder that there is really no line separating “spirituality” from the rest of life: it’s all connected. The point behind a contemplative practice, after all, is not merely to lose ourselves in meditation; but rather to find, through the disciplined attention of silent awareness, that we really are “part of everything” and it’s all beautiful — and so are we.

    By: Carl McColman


    “Dear Prudence” is a song written by John Lennon, and credited to Lennon/McCartney. It was recorded by The Beatles as the second track on their 1968 double-disc album entitled The Beatles (also known as The White Album).

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

    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. Someone asked John Lennon 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'”. Lennon said later that “She’d been locked in for three weeks and was trying to reach God quicker than anyone else”. 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”.

    Lennon did not play the song for Farrow while they were in India together. Farrow later said “George was the one who told me about it” as The Beatles were leaving the ashram. According to Farrow: “I was flattered. It was a beautiful thing to have done”.

    The song is said to be “beautiful muscially” with guitars and layered vocals. 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”.

    # John Lennon — double-tracked vocal, backing vocal, guitar
    # Paul McCartney — backing vocal, drums, bass, piano, flügelhorn, tambourine, handclaps
    # George Harrison — backing vocal; lead guitar
    # Mal Evans — backing vocal, handclaps
    # Jackie Lomax — backing vocal, handclaps
    # John McCartney (Paul’s cousin) — backing vocal, handclaps

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