Prudence Farrow Shares Memories of the Beatles Pilgrimage That Inspired ‘Dear Prudence’
Plenty of young women would have loved to have spent a couple of months in a hut with the Beatles in 1968 — but for Prudence Farrow Bruns, whose youthful excursion to study meditation in India included the brush with the band that inspired "Dear Prudence," their presence was actually kind of an unwanted distraction.
Bruns looked back on her experience during a recent interview with Rolling Stone conducted to promote her new book, Dear Prudence: The Story Behind the Song. Title notwithstanding, Prudence is really more of a memoir than a book about the Beatles track, and sees the author reliving the troubled youth that left her craving meditation's release — to the extent that she actually wanted to move out of their shared hut.
"All the other course participants were in puris (cottages) that were very quiet and conducive for meditation. Our puri was considered the "celebrity block," which meant that not only the Beatles but all other celebrities and celebrity-related people would stay in this block," explained Bruns. "In the evenings, John and George (and Paul, while he was there) would jam with others in the patio outside our front doors."
Which is not to say Bruns didn't enjoy the band's company — just that, as a member of a prominent Hollywood family, she'd already grown numb to the excitement of celebrity, and she had a very singular goal for her trip. It was Bruns' overwhelming devotion to meditation that inspired John Lennon to write "Dear Prudence," and lines like "The sun is up, the sky is blue / It's beautiful and so are you / Dear Prudence, won't you come out to play?"
"The Beatles being there — I can honestly say — did not mean anything to me. But those two people that I met, John and George, I really liked them, and they were very much up my alley," recalled Bruns. "They were musicians; they had other interests — whereas I really only had one interest, which was to be [at the retreat] and get the maximum I could from that time. I was so much more extreme."
Looking back, Bruns admits being nervous about how Lennon would portray her in the song, which she says she heard for the first time while playing a parlor game with her family.
"He was very brilliant and extremely funny. He was very astute in terms of sizing people up. So how do I know what he would write? I didn't know," she shrugged. "He could have written anything. What was nice was my privacy — he respected it to a great extent."
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