Saturday, July 12, 2014

The White Album songs, continued


Dear Prudence

The Beatles song “Dear Prudence”, off the White Album, was written about Mia Farrow’s sister, Prudence, when she wouldn't come out and play with Mia and the Beatles at a religious retreat in India.

The Beatles had gone to India to study with Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, along with other noted musos and artists, Mia, Prudence and WAGs. 

Prudence Farrow, suffering from depression, became so serious about her meditation that she "turned into a near recluse" and "rarely came out" of the cottage she was living in. John Lennon was asked to "contact her and make sure she came out more often to socialise". 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 played the song for Farrow while they were in India together. According to Farrow, "I was flattered. It was a beautiful thing to have done". 

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"

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."

Videolink:

One other interesting thing about the song: Ringo had briefly left the Beatles at the time of recording and so the drum track was provided by Paul.


Farrow’s dedication to her spiritual practice remains to this day. She has a PhD in Sanskrit and teaches Transcendental Meditation in Florida.

* * * * * * **
Glass Onion:

"Glass Onion" follows "Dear Prudence on the White Album.

It has been the subject of a previous Bytes post, at:


* * * * * * **
Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da:


“Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da” follows "Glass Onion" on the White Album.

Lyrics:

"Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da"

Desmond has a barrow in the market place
Molly is the singer in a band
Desmond says to Molly "girl I like your face"
And Molly says this as she takes him by the hand

Ob-la-di ob-la-da life goes on bra
La-la how the life goes on
Ob-la-di ob-la-da life goes on bra
La-la how the life goes on

Desmond takes a trolley to the jewellers stores
Buys a twenty carat golden ring (Golden ring?)
Takes it back to Molly waiting at the door
And as he gives it to her she begins to sing (Sing)

Ob-la-di ob-la-da life goes on bra
La-la how the life goes on
Ob-la-di ob-la-da life goes on bra
La-la how the life goes on, yeah (No)

In a couple of years they have built
A home sweet home
With a couple of kids running in the yard
Of Desmond and Molly Jones
(Ah ha ha ha ha ha)

Happy ever after in the market place
Desmond lets the children lend a hand (Arm! Leg!)
Molly stays at home and does her pretty face
And in the evening she still sings it with the band

Yes, ob-la-di ob-la-da life goes on bra
La-la how the life goes on (Ha ha ha)
Hey, ob-la-di ob-la-da life goes on bra
La-la how the life goes on

In a couple of years they have built
A home sweet home
With a couple of kids running in the yard
Of Desmond and Molly Jones
(Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha)

Yeah, happy ever after in the market place
Molly lets the children lend a hand (Foot!)
Desmond stays at home and does his pretty face
And in the evening she's a singer with the band

Yeah, ob-la-di ob-la-da life goes on bra
La-la how the life goes on
Yeah, ob-la-di ob-la-da life goes on bra
La-la how the life goes on

And if you want some fun
Take ob-la-di ob-la-da

(Thank you, uh, ha ha ha!)

Video link:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gRtAO-nffz0

About the song:

· Although credited to John Lennon and Paul McCartney, the song was in fact written by Paul. 

· Released on the White Album, it was also released as a single the same year, 1968, in many countries but not in the UK or US. 

· Paul McCartney wanted to release it as a single in the UK but this was vetoed by the other 3 Beattles. Instead Marmalade released it as a single and took it to No 1. 

· The reference to Desmond is to the first internationally renowned Jamaican ska and reggae performer Desmond Dekker, who had just completed a successful UUK tour. 

· The tag line "ob-la-di, ob-la-da, life goes on, bra" was an expression used by Nigerian conga player Jimmy Scott-Emuakpor, an acquaintance of McCartney. 

· Jimmy Scott later tried to claim a writer's credit for the use of his catchphrase in the song; McCartney claimed that the phrase was "just an expression". Scott argued that not only was the phrase not a general expression, but that it was in fact exclusively used in the Scott-Emuakpor family. He later dropped the case when McCartney agreed to post his bail for an unrelated matter. 

· According to studio engineer Geoff Emerick, John Lennon "openly and vocally detested" the song, calling it Paul's "granny music shit". 

· Lennon left the studio during a recording of the song (after several days and literally dozens of takes of the song, trying different tempos and styles), then returned while under the influence of marijuana, went immediately to the piano and played the opening chords much louder and faster than before. He claimed that was how the song should be played, and that is the version they ended up using. 

· When singing the vocals for the song, specifically the last verse of the song when sung the second time, McCartney made a slip and said "Desmond stays at home and does his pretty face", rather than Molly, and had Molly letting "the children lend a hand". Reportedly, this mistake was kept in because the other Beatles liked it 

· George Harrison and Lennon yell "arm" and "leg" during a break in the song; between the lines "...Desmond lets the children lend a hand" and "Molly stays at home..." 

· The lyrics for “Savoy Truffle”, composed by Harrison and also on the White Album, include the line "We all know ob-la-di-bla-da, but can you show me where you are." 

· Various polls at various times have credited this song as either the worst song of all time or one of the worst.

* * * * * * * * *

No comments:

Post a Comment