Dear Prudence

The Beatles (White Album) artworkWritten by: Lennon-McCartney
Recorded: 28-30 August 1968
Producer: George Martin
Engineer: Barry Sheffield

Released: 22 November 1968 (UK), 25 November 1968 (US)

John Lennon: vocals, backing vocals, guitar
Paul McCartney: backing vocals, bass, piano, drums, flugelhorn, tambourine, handclaps
George Harrison: backing vocals, lead guitar, handclaps
Mal Evans, Jackie Lomax, John McCartney: backing vocals, handclaps

Available on:
The Beatles (White Album)

Written by John Lennon in India, Dear Prudence was about Mia Farrow's younger sister, who refused to leave her chalet at the meditation retreat in Rishikesh, and had to be coaxed out by Lennon and George Harrison.

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Prudence Farrow had become infatuated with meditation, locking herself away from the rest of the group and falling into deep states against the advice of Maharishi Mahesh Yogi.

Dear Prudence is me. Written in India. A song about Mia Farrow's sister, who seemed to go slightly barmy, meditating too long, and couldn't come out of the little hut that we were livin' in. They selected me and George to try and bring her out because she would trust us. If she'd been in the West, they would have put her away.

We got her out of the house. She'd been locked in for three weeks and wouldn't come out, trying to reach God quicker than anybody else. That was the competition in Maharishi's camp: who was going to get cosmic first. What I didn't know was I was already cosmic. [Laughs.]

John Lennon
All We Are Saying, David Sheff

Prudence later confirmed she was more fanatical in her pursuit of enlightenment than those around her.

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...

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
A Hard Day's Write, Steve Turner

The song's distinctive fingerpicked guitar style was taught to Lennon by Donovan, another guest in Rishikesh. The style was used on a number of other songs on the White Album, including Julia and Happiness Is A Warm Gun.

In the studio

Like Back In The USSR, Dear Prudence was recorded without Ringo Starr, who had temporarily left the group.

The Beatles taped the song over three days in Trident Studios, an independent facility in London's Wardour Street. Unlike Abbey Road, Trident had eight-track facilities available, which The Beatles had previously used for the recording of Hey Jude.

Work on Dear Prudence began on 28 August 1968. Although the studio records note that The Beatles only recorded one take, the luxury of eight tracks meant they were able to piece together the song instrument by instrument, wiping previous attempts as they went along.

The basic track, recorded on this first day between 5pm and 7am, featured Lennon on fingerpicked guitar, Harrison on lead guitar and McCartney on drums.

The next day McCartney recorded a bass part, Lennon manually double-tracked his lead vocals, and backing vocals, handclaps and tambourine were performed by McCartney and Harrison. They were assisted with contributions from Mal Evans, recent Apple discovery Jackie Lomax, and McCartney's cousin John.

In the Complete Beatles Recording Sessions, Mark Lewisohn notes that the end of the song originally featured applause from those who contributed backing vocals and handclaps, though it was left out of the final mix.

The recording of Dear Prudence was concluded on 30 August, with a piano track and a very brief flugelhorn section. Both of these were performed by Paul McCartney.

121 responses on “Dear Prudence

  1. Michael

    Great site!

    But it’s not true that this particular fingerpicking style is used in “Blackbird” or “Mother nature’s son”.
    Those two are played differently by Paul, while John had been taught the picking stlye by Donovan and used it on “Julia” and “Happiness”.

  2. Garrett Hawk

    At the time of the writing of this song, Prudence Farrow’s sister, the actress Mia Farrow, was married to Frank Sinatra.
    I wonder that there had ever been a get-together with Frank and The Fabs…it would have certainly been interesting, in the same way as their meeting with Elvis in L.A.

  3. Fnarf

    I will be interested to hear the “Mono Box” version of this, to see if it confirms my hazy memory. A friend’s dad had the REEL TAPE version of the album, and several of the tracks were noticeably different than the familiar album. In particular this song was, I think, missing the “look around, look around round” part, or it was moved to another place in the song — I can’t remember, this was almost forty years ago!

  4. Jean Erica Moniker

    There had to have been lead guitar overdubs as there are two guitar parts harmonizing with each other behind John’s primary guitar. My wild guess would be that Paul and George played the parts together on an overdub as they did on ‘And Your Bird Can Sing’. Also possibly George simply did an overdub harmony guitar.
    I’d go on to suggest that the lead guitars sound layered and with the bouncing capabilities on the 8-track it would be conceivable that they overdubbed the harmony lead parts at least twice.
    I suppose as there is no record of this that I’m wrong but as a musician I honestly don’t see how they could have recorded the lead guitar part on one guitar. They were great players but it’s such a difficult part to play with one guitar! Somebody should ask Paul.
    What an amazing arrangement and the sonic quality is stunning in the first place and more so on the remaster!

  5. Jean Erica Moniker

    After listening again, I’m positive a third guitar enters at at least one point, in counterpoint to the rhythm; and that the lead guitars are two guitars in harmony (though perhaps not layered but rather ADT’d or something). The remastered version is absolutely gorgeous – you can hear each insanely brilliant instrument – and Paul’s drumming is killer. I think the others’ roles drum-wise were occasional snare and cymbal hits.
    Of course this is all just my opinion (albeit based upon hundreds of listens)….

    1. Michael

      I believe you are correct Jean Erica, I know that the D.P. sessions were recorded on an 8 track console, whether at Trident srudios, or at EMI, when they got their hands on the 8 track before it was allowed by the higher ups for studio use. The Beatles took full advantage of this and the song is richly overdubbbed, far more than mentioned above. the drums alone were the result of several overdubs, as were the guitars, which build up the song to it’s brilliant crescendo. I don’t know that McCartney was playing guitar, as bass, piano, vocals and multitrack drums surely kept him very occupied. It’s hard for anyone to say, and even someone who was privy to session recordings and outtakes, such as Mark Lewisohn, can make an occasional mistake. Sometimes even the Beatles themselves don’t always remember. Each Beatle had his own distinct style of playing guitar, which sometimes helps, but even that isn’t 100% (as I would’ve always thought the Taxman solo was George, not because it was his song, but because the solo sounds like his style).

  6. johne

    simply one of the best from our dear john…It seems ,after the trip to India. the white album was a witness to their going their own separate ways…still chosen as my favorite album…everyone picks the “Get back” album (let it be) as the witness of the break-up. True indeed, but The white album sure had shown us the writing was on the wall.

  7. rhino

    No book, no website, no blog will ever convince me that Paul McCartney drummed on this track. Tambourine, sure. Handclaps, of course. Drums, no way. 20 years of scrutinizing Beatles recordings along with experience as a musician tells me what Ringo sounds like on drums, and what Paul sounds like. Trust your ears, folks.

    1. Joe Post author

      So even though it was recorded while Ringo had left the band, you still think he played drums? That goes against all studio documentation, and the words of the band members and studio staff who were there at the time (and Ringo, who wasn’t).

      Paul wasn’t a bad drummer at all. He played them on a fair amount of his solo/Wings stuff, including all the Band On The Run album. He also used to switch with Pete Best for the latter’s vocal spot in the Cavern days.

      1. bcr

        I agree completely with rhino. The drumming on the last part of the song is exactly Ringo’s style, and sounds nothing like Paul’s other drumming. I think Paul probably drummed the basic part on the song, and Ringo overdubbed the part at the end, after he had returned to the group. You can even hear on the recording that the drums at the end are on a different recording track, and the drum sound is completely different. Someone should ask Ringo or Paul about this.

        1. thomas

          Paul likely emulated Ringo as much as possible to produce what fans expected from a Beatle song. I too think the drumming sounds quite a bit like Ringo. But of course Paul well knew Ringo’s style, even if he probably couldn’t imitate it perfectly or match Ringo’s skill and unique ambidexterity. However, Paul often orchestrated or directed drum parts (Ticket to Ride, etc.) so he would nevertheless know what he wanted drum-wise, as would John. I never had reason to analyze it in detail until learning it was Paul. He was the best all around musician in the Beatles (playing all instruments well) so I have no trouble believing he was on drums. My 2 cents.

          1. yoko

            paul played drums. it might sound like ringo but compare it to birthday, and u can tell the difference. also, where is the flugelhorn in the song?

            1. grego mac

              Yeah it’s Paul. Too much evidence to suggest otherwise. Believe me, my heart broke when I learned it wasn’t Ringo, because it’s one of my favorite tracks. I am a drummer and here’s what I think. One of the BIG reasons it sounds like Ringo is that both Paul & Ringo are left handed, playing a kit set up for a right handed drummer.They would tend to start their fills with their left hand. Drummers know what a difference it makes between starting a fill with your right hand as opposed to your left, because you end up in a completely different place. I had to teach myself as a right hander to start my fills with my left hand when playing along with Beatles songs. That’s one of the things that makes Ringo’s drumming so unique. Another reason it sounds so much like Ringo is Paul is surely playing Ringo’s kit, miked up like it normally would be for any other Beatles session. I think if you put this along with what thomas, yoko and other “Paulers” say it makes sense.
              Oh, and I am going to have to listen for that flgelhorn in the song. Did it get wiped in the mix?

              1. Vonbontee

                Interesting points. But couldn’t you have just set your kit up “backwards” and continue to start fills with your right hand? Are there such things as right-handed and left-handed drum kits? I’m truly curious (and pretty ignorant, drumwise)

              2. grego-mac

                Vonbontee, Yeah I could have set my kit up backwards, but I’m so used to playing right handed, set up for right handed that I found it easier to just re-teach myself how to start off the fills with my left hand. Again, Paul & Ringo are lefties used to playing a kit set up like mine. Phil Collins is a good example of a lefty playing a kit set up like a lefty. His snare and hi-hat are on HIS right side. Ringo’s snare is on his left. Anyway… yeah I could have just turned my kit around, LOL. I’m starting to confuse MYSELF. Hope that helped SOME.

              3. Xavier Baudet

                It sounds so much like Ringo that it’s almost inconceivable how it could not be him. But perhaps Paul really tried to sound like Ringo here. Almost as if he were trying to make it up with him? Although I agree that McCartney’s drumming is generally decent it’s never remotely as good as Ringo’s. But I must admit that there is one McCartney solotrack where he sounds exactly like Ringo: the last half of I Want You To Fly.

      2. Dan

        The drumming on this song is too good compared with “Back in the USSR” and the drumming on “McCartney” which is absolutely dreadful.No way Paul could pull off the feel of the drumming on the end of “Dear Prudence”. I suspect Ringo added drums before the final tape was mastered.

          1. Daniël Wolfpack

            Maybe the “clumsy” drumming sounds less tight because of being an overdub onto someone else’s drumming?
            In other words, Ringo overdubbing on a recording that he didn’t drum?

    2. Tweeze

      It is interesting. Paul definitely played on ‘Back In The USSR’. There is a tightness and hesitancy in the style. Now in ‘Dear Prudence’ it is gone. If Paul did the drumming, and best sources indicate that he did, he really improved.
      One thing about Ringo though that few remember – out of all of the Beatles he made the fewest mistakes in the studio. Paul was notorious for jumping on the mistakes of others but always tried to schmooze placidly when he made the mistake.

    3. Víctor Robledo

      Rhino. Not only the hard evidence tells the story (Ringo’s absence, the tapes documentation, recollection of witnesses, etc.) but also, if you listen to the isolated drum track (look it up on YouTube clips like Decostructing Dear Prudence) you can hear that the drum playing is in no way of the perfection in time keeping -as Ringo’s is!- and also you can hear a coarser hit to the snare and bass drum that could have not come from Ringo, nor certainly those almost amateurish crash cymbals. Bass players are generally the ones more drums inclined musicians in a band. Paul did a great in this one!

    4. Beatle Brad

      I know I’ve read that Paul has said he played drums on this one. Maybe he just tried to play in the style of Ringo? This also was recorded during the period where Ringo had left, so it’s entirely plausible that Paul is drumming. Whoever did, it’s on my top ten Beatle tune list….Love the White Album, but it’s bittersweet in that it’s the beginning of the end.

  8. rhino

    Joe, I refer you to the last sentence of my first comment. Just listen to “Maybe I’m Amazed”, recorded when Paul would have had a little more practice under his belt. Still sounds pretty rough, nothing like the brilliance of “Dear Prudence”. Paul never seemed able to get both his hands hitting with equal force, making fills sound like DUM du DUM du DUM du DUM du. (Check his fills on Back In The USSR) That’s the difference between a drummer and a non-drummer. I know because like Paul (and this is the only similarity I claim) I am a guitar / piano player who dabbles in drums and there’s quite a difference between conceiving a cool, musical drum part and having the stick control to execute it.

    bcr, I agree that there are probably two separate performances married together on the track. Those two stray hi-hat hits on the left channel just before the start of the last verse tell me this is probably the case. The basic track sounds very Ringo to me as well. He never played straight 8th notes, they always swing *just* a little and the hi hat on the “sun is up” parts is a classic example of this.

    1. TheOneBeatleManiac

      You have to put your ears 100% on the drum track, it’s Paul majority, but with help of John and George.
      Ringo wasn’t there, this was recorded when he was away with his kids.
      And Ringo never overdubbed this track later that he came back on 4 September. The recording had finalized on 30 August.
      And it’s not Ringo’s drum style, it’s totally different, and from the last part, it’s different also of Ringo’s drumming, i have listened all drums from every song that features Ringo, and in this track it could not be Ringo, and it isn’t Ringo.
      Please try to focus your ears 100% on drum track and compare.
      There’s so many differences enough that tell that Ringo wasn’t there, and he didn’t overdub nothing of those tracks that he didn’t do, along with this one.

      1. Ver

        No, I think the opposite. I am no expert but I am familiar on the Beatles drum sounds like. It sounds nothing like Macca.

        Macca and Ringo are left handed but Macca doesn’t have Ringo’s unique ambidextrous properties to wisely use the toms of a right handed kit and I’m not even sure which hand Paul uses to play the high hat but listening to his drumming in Back in the USSR and The Ballad of John and Yoko, he has a very faint sound with the high hat and did not make fills as complex as Ringo’s. Besides this one, its the song Come and Get it where Paul’s drumming impressed me.

        Listen to Ringo’s drumming in Baby You’re a Rich Man remastered and trust me, its the closest EVER Beatles drum track to the one at the end of Dear Prudence. Sexy Sadie and Happiness is a warm Gun would also exemplify the character of Ringo’s fills.

        People would rate Paul better simply because he was a more renowned musician than Ringo. But drums were not his expertise, he’s a genius bassist.

  9. beatleKen

    sorry guys but its pure PAUL. Paul was a good drummer. THEY all were great at whatever they did, why complain about it. why do u think they invented overdubbin anyway so u could get the BEST take.

    1. paulsbass

      It does sound like Ringo, since Paul loved his style very much.
      I think it’s pretty obvious that the complexity of that last drum part at the end is also the result of overdubbing. There’s more than one drum-set. So those saying Paul didn’t have the technical ability to play that don’t realize it’s not played live all at a time (not meaning that Ringo never did overdubs!).

  10. jimjim

    One thing that hasn’t been mentioned as much is the harmonies. Purely angelic. The structure of the song is phenomenal, with the lonely (electric) guitar starting the song, then the vocals, then lots of building, including great interior lead riffs and a rippling piano that comes out of nowhere (a Beatles’ trademark), and then the same lonely guitar at the end. And all those beautiful harmonies. I always thought that the harmonies here were similar to those on the middle section of “You Never Give Me Your Money,” (immediately after Paul sings the last “nowhere to go.” Anyway, “Dear Prudence” is just top-notch writing and playing, and I especially love the drumming in the penultimate chorus, when it gets a bit loose and jammy, and then it tightens right back up for the last verse. I always thought it was Ringo but who knows.

  11. Ver

    I’ll be fair, we cannot be sure unless somebody asks the two surviving Beatles themselves of who did the drum part at the end of this song. If it was Paul, I also had a feeling it was the result of overdubbing because listening to Paul’s drum at Come and Get It, Maybe I’m Amazed and The Ballad of John and Yoko, he was sloppy on the fills, especially the tom-tom fills so he did not seem to posses the dexterity to make fills as good as Ringo’s. The question is if Paul did all this drum part, why doesn’t he have any drum parts that I know of that are as brilliant as this one???

    The song was written in India about Prudence Farrow who locked up herself in a room and Ringo was still not quitting at the time so its also possible that he did have a track for this song BEFORE he temporarily quit.

    Of course Ringo fans want to believe this was Ringo cause they are fans of course and it breaks their heart to see that another member of the band can make a great track. I’ve read some info about an author who thinks there was a mistake and that Ringo did the end part.

    For people that say this was all Paul’s, why don’t you go a listen to the rest of Paul’s drumming and the rest of Ringo’s drumming and compare the two. This is actually close to the style used in Baby You’re a Rich Man so go listen to a remastered version of that and see the similarity of the fills. I’ve seen a drummer on Youtube that thinks that this sounded like Ringo as well.

    I think another reason why people think its all Paul was simply because he was a more renowned musician than the big Nose and people like to believe it was him all along.

    The documentations, the credits and the few testimonials available are in favor of Paul but the sound and the style used was in favor of Ringo.

  12. robert

    I have not researched the documentation etc., regarding who plays those ending drums – and if the facts bear out it’s Paul – then it’s Paul.

    However, it seems odd that Paul would have achieved a level of drumming that he never reached previously or subsequently.

    Listening to Paul’s first solo album – where Paul plays all drums and one assume he would have had the inclination and time to prove his skills – no song’s drumming even comes close to the skill required for the Dear Prudence fills at the end. Just one opinion – I could be wrong.

  13. robert

    Is it at all possible that the closing drum tracks on Dear Prudence are Ringo tracks from a completely different song?

    Or an unused Ringo drum track from who knows what?

    The Beatles often took tracks from other songs or unused tracks and incorporated them into different songs.

    it’s a stretch but not implausible. It also wouldn’t have a recording log since it would have been done during the mix.

    And it satisfies the ears – because it really sounds like Ringo and like nothing Paul has ever – ever – done.

    1. Chris

      They had an eight-track and pieced it instrument by instrument.

      It’s not implausible to assume Paul coulda just gone through a ton of takes to get all the parts right, and then pieced them together. They were more into studio copy-pasting than live playing before Paul suggested the Get Back thing.

      1. ManNamedLear

        This is most certainly the case. The “sun is up, sky is blue section” is two drum tracks: one attacking the hi-hat and one playing a straight beat. The former (hi-hat attack) sounds like Paul; it lacks the groove, timing, and cleanness that Ringo’s playing had. Also, Ringo’s wash was cleaner than what’s heard here. The latter (the straight beat) has a quieter hi-hat that sounds like Ringo or Paul emulating Ringo. This continues into the subsequent verse, which is why the hat is so much quieter during said verse. The snare and kick are also double tracked here. I’m inclined to believe it’s Paul for two reasons: 1) because Ringo’s snare on the main track here wouldn’t have been that much louder than his hi-hat; and 2) because if Ringo *were* to double-track this part of the song, he’d likely record a second track as just snare, much like in the “Hey Bulldog” bridge sections.

  14. Ver

    Well there is this Avant Garde song by Yoko Ono on her debut album called “Touch Me” and Ringo was the drummer there. Check this link:

    You could clearly hear that Ringo used fills that are somewhat identical to what was on the end part of Dear Prudence in contrary to Paul’s drumming which is noticeably rough and sloppy on the fills.

  15. joe

    its definitely paul. why would there be some weird conspiracy to lie about who played drums on Dear Prudence and only Dear Prudence? the drumming at the end is proficient but its not overly difficult. it’s CREATIVE but not technically insane. McCartney could easily have played it.

    Meanwhile… to me one of the most haunting elements has always been the backing vocals that come in at 1:25. They are very inhuman… I wonder if thats just because of the presence of non-Beatles at the record. I also have wondered if maybe the machine was being undercranked while the falsettos are sung. They just sound so weird… beautiful but weird.

    I’ve also been curious as to the process of this song’s recording. The guitars are such a star, I wonder if they just recorded them to a click then built it all up afterward?

    1. EltonJohnLennon

      I definitely agree with you about those backing vocals. Very haunting. They are not just very high, they sound mechanically. When I heard the song for the first time I thought it was some kind of synthesizer.

      Do you know who sings them? Paul is definitely one of the singers.

        1. EltonJohnLennon

          I’m able to read. But only because these six persons are credited as backing vocalists it does not mean that all of them sang this special one. There are even more backing vocals in the song. On the “Look Around” part they sing togteher.

          And that was my question. Who sang that special backing vocal. I don’t think all of them were able to hit this high note but maybe it’s harmonized.

          1. joe

            I’ve always wondered if that high-vocal part was aided by some tape speed manipulation. It sounds almost like they tracked some falsetto vocals with the tape machine over-cranked.

    2. Ver

      Its not that impossible for Paul but why hasn’t he made anything even close as good as that previously or subsequently when he had more time to improve his skills?? I have listened to Paul’s drumming and Ringo’s drumming and each of them had signature timing. Though Paul was creative, his fills on Maybe I’m Amazed for example were rough and sloppy and were a bit out of sync. Though both of them are left handed, I would say that the drum they had on the studio was right handed by default, with the floor tom on the right. So I would expect Paul to have a disadvantage hitting the floor tom which is furthest to his right. Its never too easy for Paul without overdubs I see.

      I swear that the fills by Ringo on “Baby You’re a Rich Man” is the most closely similar drum fill sound you’ll ever get to the ending of Dear Prudence on The Beatles’s released songs.

      Suppose the drumming at the end was made by Ringo earlier before he left then was just overdubbed into the mix later and whoever listed the personnel credits at that time didn’t see Ringo because he was yet to get back saw Paul made the basic drum track so he just listed Paul’s name on the drums.

      They had a huge recording career so I think there are certain errors made on some documentations of The Beatles’ recording such as some people thought Paul also played the drums on Birthday and Why Don’t We do it on the Road in which on this website and most others sources, we can say those are Ringo’s drumming or who was it on lead guitars on “Its All Too Much”. Nobody can tell except the surviving people who worked at the studio at that time and the surviving Beatles themselves.

      1. Chris

        “Its not that impossible for Paul but why hasn’t he made anything even close as good as that previously or subsequently when he had more time to improve his skills??”

        Because he hasn’t needed to play the drums outside of this, McCartney, McCartney II and “My Dark Hour” by the Steve Miller band. Why bother, when you have Denny Seiwell, Joe English, Steve Holley, and all the other session musicians on his album since, to handle the drumming?

        “Suppose the drumming at the end was made by Ringo earlier before he left then was just overdubbed into the mix later and whoever listed the personnel credits at that time didn’t see Ringo because he was yet to get back saw Paul made the basic drum track so he just listed Paul’s name on the drums.”

        Falls afoul of Occam’s Razor. Why bother with all this nonsense, especially for a group whose sessions have been so well-documented? Don’t you think Ringo would have said so if this happened, especially considering how he mentioned ” I hated the bugger for years; I still don’t let him off the hook!” when George Martin replaced him with Andy White on “Love Me Do”?

    3. Cameron McIntosh

      Yeah, plus they kept pretty good records on who play what and when. Think it would have been logged if Ringo overdubbed anything.

  16. LetsPlayCool

    There seems to be a lot of speculation around the drum part here… But one thing is sure: the bass part is Paul’s and it’s amazing!

  17. Schminking of gin

    My favorite track on the White Album, and probably the most played song from anyone in my young 26 years. Its a breathtakingly beautiful song, my friends and I in college would dance to this as the sun came out after a long night out, hearing this song always reminds me how that felt. Just gorgeous

  18. suckerfly

    I’m agreeing with rhino’s points.

    I don’t think that’s Paul playing that outro. I think that’s Ringo. Cuz Paul can’t play like that. It has signature Ringo fills all over the place in it, and if you listen to any fills that McCartney does on drums he is known to be the sole drummer for, well, he is not the greatest drummer when it comes to fills. You can hear it on Band on the Run, that often when Paul comes out of a drum fill, he often loses the beat of the song, or has trouble coming back into the “groove”. You can hear this on Back in the U.S.S.R. — I can hear it on “Jet”. He does the fill, and then has to try and get back to the beat, and often times he doesn’t do it well. He falls out of time, or you can hear the hesitance in not doing it right.

    If you listen to Ringo on Oh! Darling or Something, there is no hesitance. he has no problems or confidence about losing the beat. He knows what he’s doing. I say it’s Ringo at the end of Dear Prudence.

    There are isolated audio versions on youtube that have separated this drum track for Dear Prudence. I can hear at the 3.00 mark that the recording of the drums changes. It becomes more condensed and a bit bassier than it was all the way until 2:59. I think Ringo was edited in later stages.

    If George harrison can’t even get credit for writing lyrics for Come Together and eleanor Rigby, what makes you think Ringo would get credit for actually performing the outro of Dear Prudence if paul can be announced as the only drummer cuz no one bothered the document any further recording sessions. You have Geoff Emerick stating Blackbird was recorded outside, where Ken Scott says this is just a blatant error – and Geoff Emerick didn’t even bother shutting off the hiss coming from an unused track on 1982’s Take It Away for McCartney, which i can hear as plain as day (the hiss soon turns out to be the place where the horns occupy the stereo image)

    1. Cameron McIntosh

      Ah, Someone who knows! Ringo is dubbed in at 2:49 into the song. I caught that when I found out(many years ago) Paul was playing drums, but there is no way that is Paul after the 2:49 mark. Thank you my friend for putting that fact out there!

      1. Rich

        But still, why wouldn’t they just come out and say that? I realize that there are many Beatles songs with many details and perhaps who played the ending drum part of Dear Prudence may have just slipped through the cracks, but still you’d figure someone would know. I believe that Ringo played the end part but I don’t know really, so I guess this will just be one that goes unsolved, unless of course Ringo eventually demands credit.

    2. paulsbass

      Yeah, it’s a free country, so you’re allowed to “think” and “believe” what you want.
      But you made quite a lot of words without saying much apart from your opinion.

      Of course the sound changes. As I pointed out earlier, the drum outro is NOT played live by Paul as a whole, but he overdubbed several drum tracks. I guess on that isolated drum track you must hear that.

      And really “nice” how you dismiss Paul’s excellent drumming on “BOTR” which impressed even Keith Moon.

      Maybe you can just forget your anti-Paul bias for a while and accept that RINGO WAS NOT THERE!
      PLUS Paul could really drum.

      1. Cameron McIntosh

        Yes, it is my opinion, which was given for healthy debate, not to insult anyone or to be insulted. We all have one thing in common, we love the Beatles. My opinion is really irrelevant still ‘it is what it is”. However, please do not say I am anti- Paul. I have been playing bass for over 40 yrs, and do so because of him, so I am well versed. Why don’t we do this – Since we know there are many mysteries about the Beatles, let’s all of us try to contact the surviving two in question and see if they remember. Let keep this fun!!

        1. paulsbass

          I wasn’t referring to your post but to suckerfly.
          I’d LOVE to ask them some questions (like “You DID sing the aahs in ADITL, Paul, didn’t you?!” ;-).
          I can’t believe Larry King had the two plus Yoko and Olivia together in the studio and managed to ask COMPLETELY redundant stuff.

          1. mr. Sun king coming together

            It’s Larry King. What do you expect? Paulsbass, you are a 100% about the drums. I find it incomprehensible that people (most of whom seem very intelligent) can see this statement: That goes against all studio documentation, and the words of the band members and studio staff who were there at the time (and Ringo, who wasn’t)”, and yet think Ringo drummed it.

    3. Joe Post author

      I’ve listened to the isolated drum track. Yes, there was most likely a drum overdub at that part, but it could still have been McCartney. The playing from 3’00 is actually quite ragged at times, certainly quite hesitant, and the beat is lost in a couple of places. That’s fine – The Beatles’ recordings were rarely perfect, but the playing on Dear Prudence isn’t all that spectacular (for what it’s worth, I’m a musician who has played drums in bands).

      I really don’t want this to stray too far off-topic, but Geoff Emerick’s memory is known to be unreliable. I don’t have any opinion on the mixing of 1982’s Tug Of War, which isn’t relevant here, but will say that none of the known documentation for the Dear Prudence recording sessions suggests that Ringo worked on Dear Prudence. If any comes to light I’ll gladly change this article, but won’t just because some people think it so.

      For the record, the bulk of information on the recording sessions on this site comes from two main sources. The first is The Complete Beatles Recording Sessions by Mark Lewisohn, who listened to all the multitrack tapes in the late 1980s. The second is John C Winn’s two-volume Way Beyond Compare/That Magic Feeling, for which he built upon (and in many cases corrected) Lewisohn’s research, often using John Barrett’s tape logs from the 1980s. Barrett was a studio engineer at Abbey Road who logged each and every Beatles session tape, including which songs were worked on on which days. While it’s possible that he and Lewisohn missed something, I’ll wait for the proof rather than conjecture.

      1. paulsbass

        I’ve just checked out the isolated drums.
        1.) It’s obvious there are two drum tracks at the end, which makes the whole sound more complex than it is.
        2.) The isolated track doesn’t sound that awesome at all but rather clumsy and random. In the whole arrangement it does sound great, but it’s really nothing even I couldn’t do.
        3.) It reminds me a bit of Kreen Akrore (McCartney album).

        No sign of Ringo here at all.

  19. Stephen

    Hello everyone,
    And the answer is…(drum roll)
    I was lucky enough to hear the 8 track multitrack of this beautiful song a couple of years ago in detail and I could quite clearly hear Paul’s voice through the drum microphones during the count-in and after the take was finished (there is also cheering at the end and that horn!). Various other percussion instruments were added and shared with other tracks such as shaker and (what sounds like) a finger cymbal.
    Paul’s piano overdub is also unusually bounced and shared with the drum track towards the end of the song.
    John detuned the E string to D on his acoustic to produce a drone effect which sounds like two guitars.
    Back In The USSR is also Paul with John & George assisting during a dub on a separate track.
    This is a lovely thread to read and very interesting.

  20. Cameron McIntosh

    Thank you Stephen, I will be happy to go with that. This was a healthy conversation; it is a pleasure to discuss these topics with fellow Beatles lovers. Let us all remember the Beatles were about love, so let remember to talk, speak, and treat each other with the love they intended!
    Until the next discussion ?

  21. Ver

    Well, we all love The Beatles and they are all distinct but I think someone always gets more credit than the other. John and Paul commonly get more renowned as songwriters than George for instance. Paul would normally get more credit than Ringo.

    I also saw the isolated audio parts of Dear Prudence on Youtube. On John’s vocal part, I can hear the much simpler drum beat at the outro which is what Paul originally played but like the what some of the others said, Paul was a bit sloppy on fills and sometimes loses the beat when trying to come back to 4/4 time signature and none of the others drum tracks he ever did could come close to the skill and complexity at the drum outro of Dear Prudence so the SIMPLE LOGIC goes to me that Paul did not do the drum outro. I too play the drums and Ringo is my main influence. I know what sounds like Ringo and what doesn’t and in this case, the end of Dear Prudence is very Ringo to me.

    Even the best studio documentations are not 100% accurate. I’m not saying 100% that Paul did not play the outro but I had a huge reason to doubt. Its possible it was something done BEFORE Ringo left on some other stuff they came up with. I challenge you guys to listen to Ringo’s fills on Baby You’re a Rich Man and the drum intro on Hey Jude, you hear a significant similarity on the fills Ringo did on those songs to the outro of Dear Prudence. So those are my reasons for doubting Paul.

    And I’m not mad at Paul. He’s my favorite vocalist, fave bass player and fave song writer and somehow he influences me on things I wanna be sometimes but I would not credit him on something which I feel is unlikely for him to do. Peace and Love.

    1. Stephen

      Hi Ver,
      I enjoyed reading your comment.
      I guess the only way we could settle this for sure would be to slip back forty odd years.
      Anyone got a blue box with a flashing light on top handy?
      Let’s just enjoy the song and the album.

  22. joe

    It’s Paul. Why is that so hard to believe? He played drums on Ballad of John and Yoko. He also came up with the part for Ringo to play as a “solo” on Abbey Road, and supposedly also came up with the pattern for “Ticket to Ride”. The guy was a kickass musician. And I’m surprised to hear all these drummers talk about that final fill. It’s an awesome fill but its not, technically, that complex. There’s no reason Paul couldn’t play it. Also… that fill is pretty unique on a Beatles song. I can’t think of another song that features such a long extended fill… so why that would automatically be given to Ringo is beyond me, as it’s not in any way a signature Ringo fill.

  23. MaccaStarkey

    I really enjoyed the discussion but I find it hard to fathom the fuss over this particular drum part — it’s not that great anyway. I think Ringo and Paul won’t even bother to claim credit for the drums on Dear Prudence, because it’s not that special anyway.
    As for me, Ringo is a great drummer that’s why I think the drums on DP is a bit too sloppy for his level –yes, even the outro part.
    And for me it’s not hard to believe that Paul drummed on DP, because Paul is a good drummer and that drum part is not that difficult to execute.Listen to his drumming on “Kreen-Adrore” (McCartney) and you’ll note the similarities with DP. As with many other multi-instrumentalist, Paul is more of a lyrical drummer, meaning his drumming is not technically amazing but just enough to be a backbone of a song (think Stevie Wonder or Prince’s drumming, albeit they are technically better). As for the similarities with Ringo’s style, don’t forget that Paul ADORES Ringo’s drumming and has always openly praised him, and perhaps he acquired a lick or two or more from Ringo over the years.

  24. apple_jam

    Very interesting…I now agree with the theory that Paul played drums for the main recording session with John and George but then Ringo dubbed in the end drums when he returned. Perhaps John had Ringo do it late on evening when everyone else was gone. Then it’s settled…

  25. TomMo

    First, and least importantly, hasn’t it been documented that Paul’s cousin, John McCartney, also participated on backing vocals and handclaps?

    As for the drums, just a thought: Wasn’t one of Ringo’s complaints about the “Sgt. Pepper’s” sessions that he didn’t have much to do? If I’ve read correctly, after rehearsing a song, all four Beatles would lay down a guide track (“Getting Better” is an example, I think). Then they would use other tracks to record their instruments one-by-one or in pairs or whatever, including Ringo’s drums, eventually erasing the guide track. Finally, Paul would add bass. Having said that, is it possible that in Ringo’s absence, might Paul have played drums on a guide track? Thus Ringo may have recorded the final drum track upon his return. Does anyone know when the Beatles started recording guide tracks and if they continued the process through the White Album and Abbey Road?

  26. FrankDialogue

    Doesn’t really matter about outro, as the whole rhythm track has Paul written all over it, with splendid building dynamics, and especially the ‘caterpilar’like movement of bass & drums starting in second verse.

    Paul, like Hendrix was left handed, and I really believe that this fact contributed to a certain idiosyncratic and unique flair in how both played their instruments and conceived musical lines.

    Paul was always the Beatles ‘nuts & bolts’ bandleader, and here we witness his creative endeavors in helping to make a fine John song a minor masterpiece.Paul & John were musical brothers sadly seperated by fate, Yoko Ono and just the flow of life’s changes.

    A wonderful Beatles collective effort.

  27. 2much4mymirror

    Here’s another John song that was melodically seasoned by a particular instrument – in this case that memorable descending guitar line that plays throughout. And whenever I notice the important of a particular instrumental part in adding touches of melody to a John song, I wonder if it was written by Paul. Take the intro to “Strawberry Fields” which Paul (says he) wrote or the piano intro to “Sexy Sadie” which Paul played on so may have written. What about that guitar on “Prudence”? Anybody have any information about whether John or one of the other Beatles wrote it?

    1. Pablo Castro

      It´s John´s guitar part, with the same fingering pattern that is present on Julia and Happiness Is a Warm Gun. It was not written by Paul. John was also a fine musician, and could have excelente instrumental ideas. Take a listen on the introduction of his 73 song Out The Blue : it´s also him on guitar.

  28. nzchciago

    My favourite thing about Dear Prudence is the slight accelerando towards the climax of the song, and then how it goes half-speed just at the climax, with the guitar part climbing up to the highest register. It’s like an orgasm in music. Brilliant! The whole thing is an amazing minimalist construction based on just a few notes. Wish we could hear more of the guitar “afterglow”…

    I have always thought the drumming sounded quite sloppy and almost spastic towards the peak of the song, which for me fits perfectly the ecstatic quality they were going for.

  29. Bill

    One of the best songs on the White Album (if not the best), & this album is my least favorite of all of the EMI- recorded albums, although there’s a lot of good stuff on it…

  30. Hey

    Their are definitely two different drummers overdubbed over each other in this song as you cant hit two toms while hitting to high hats at the same time. So weather paul overdubbed himself or it was ringo, i dont know.

  31. Chris Jackson

    Just read this thread, and have to say I was mightily amused.

    The argument against Paul having drummed this tune amounts to this: Paul recorded tracks with drumming that was sloppy and hesitant; therefore, if a track contains drumming that *isn’t* sloppy and hesitant, Paul couldn’t possibly have drummed it.

    As if it wasn’t possible that maybe Paul should have, say, practiced more before releasing the McCartney album, or done more takes (the logistical realities of which are well known). Or that he had better days, and worse days, on the drums. Or that he could be on-beat, or maintain a consistent cadence, even by accident. Even for *part* of a song. Using overdubs.

    Regardless, it’s nice to hear from people who are so passionate about the Beatles, and who understand their place in history and the impact they made. Bless you all.

  32. Whacko

    Hitting two toms and hi-hat at the same time is… not only very possible, but rather easy. The hi-hat is pedal operated, you see. Some drummists even go crazier and play things with hands and both their feet!! One chap, the P of ELP, used head, hands and feet. At the same time. You had to endure a godawful drum solo to see that, mind you.

  33. Alfredo

    The end of Dear Prudence seems like a compilation of chops and sounds like it was not played in one take.
    The snare drum fills sound like they’ve been recorded over (or instead) a previous drum track.
    Also, the time is not good…
    SO, I believe it’s all Paul but with LOTS of overdubs and “copy/paste”

    1. Jacob Gorensteyn

      That’s wrong. If you listen to the MOGG multitrack ripped from rockband you can clearly hear a different drum take – which sounds exactly as the playing in the beginning of the song – beating away through the playback in the vocal tracks. Almost no breaks or fills or anything, and the same basic beat as there is throughout most of the song. Also, if you solo the drum part, you can clearly hear a brief pause and a click of the overdub at the moment the sound changes. The later part of the drums on this song was overdubbed, no question. The real question is who did it – because it really does *not* sound like paul’s drumming the the first half of the song. But if Ringo says he never overdubbed that there is no reason not to believe him 🙂

        1. kryp fortyfour

          John never said that about Ringo’s drumming. It was said by some reporter and been passed around as John’s. It’s a myth. No one can ever provide the source on such as statement. And no one claims to have been there to first hand to have heard it.

  34. carlos

    In my opinion one of the greatest songs in the WA. Long time ago I have read an interview to Mal Evans talking about the WA. I remember he said there, for instance, that Ringo played piano on “Don´t pass me by”, John played sax and Neil Aspinall trumpet on “Helter skelter”, “Eddie Clayton, a british guitarrist” played lead on “While my guitar gently weeps” and Jackie Lomax, a Paul´s cousin and himself on handclaps and tambourine and Paul on drums on “Dear Prudence”. So mates, there are many evidences that proves that in fact It´s Paul who plays drums in this song. I felt really disappointed when I realized that Paul played the guitar solo on “Taxman”, but what can we do ? Anyway, Paul did it great.

  35. swozz

    One of the better set of comments on one of the most interesting songs on the WA. My question gets off the drums and onto the acoustic guitar fingerpicking style everyone says John picked up from Donovan in India. Does anyone know of a Donovan song that employs his (Donovan’s) fingerpicking syle? I ain’t too familiar with Donovan’s output (and that might be a good thing.)

  36. Terry

    On the drumming issue, I think there’s a logical argument as to why it’s not Ringo. Simply, the drumming by the end of the song, is practically the lead instrument. I can imagine Macca having it that way if he is playing, but I can’t see him or John letting Ringo take the centre ground. I can’t think of a single Beatles song where this happened. Ringo is always behind the other guys, never pushing out in front. In this respect, it is completely unlike Ringo.

  37. davey

    …i like to think of it as Ringo…whoever played on it(including Ringo)was channeling Ringo…maybe Ringo added a tambourine…Ringo is about drums w percussion to me…maybe “Paul played the drums” is a euphemism for a studio drummer,playing like Ringo…anyway you slice it: …if Ringo didn’t exist….the drums wouldn’t sound the way they do on that track…peace

    1. Rocky

      Well I can’t tell you exactly which bass he used on Dear Prudence, but I know the basses he used during the White Album were his 1964 Rickenbacker 4001S-LH and his 1966 Fender Jazz Bass.

      It’s always possible that he played his Hofner, as he did on Revolution too!

      If you can deduce which bass he used, based on sound and tone, it’s most likely out of the top two! Personally I believe he played the Rickenbacker. he played the Jazz Bass on tracks like Yer Blues, which just blasted heavy and tone-full bass. The bassline for Dear Prudence is incredible, but less in your face. But that’s my opinion, and you didn’t ask for that haha! Good luck finding it.

      1. Bat Fastard

        Doubt it was the Hofner. Didn’t he only pull that out of retirement, at Elvis Costello’s insistence, in 1989? Costello said it hadn’t been used since it was last toured, i.e. 1966. It still had the Candlestick Park set list taped on it!

        As to Dear Prudence, the bass just rattles like a damped Ricky with flatwound strings. But, much like bodily orifices, that’s my opinion and we all have one… tee hee hee.

  38. Riffking

    Interesting comments on George’s work on this tune found on this simply amazing website dedicated to GH:
    “You listen to a song like ‘Dear Prudence’ and you realize that they did it all without the aid of an orchestra – even though the closing climatic section is a natural candidate for brass and/or strings. How? They relied heavily on Harrison – who came up with these great moving inner lines in the last verse and chorus.”

    — Ian Hammond, Acoustic Guitar, February 2003

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