John wrote this in Rishikesh for Prudence Farrow, sister of Mia (aka Mrs Sinatra1 newly divorced, Mrs Previn in waiting and, most toxically, Mrs Allen in the dim and distant). Prudence was, in Mr Lennon’s opinion, spending too much time in meditation at the ashram of a giggling Maharishi soon to gain White Album notoriety as Sexy Sadie.
And Prudence? She just needed to come out and play.
Which leads us to the second piece of Fab Four White Album sleuthery to feature on this site. Following the enigma of Whose guitar gently wept – where debate rages over whether, as Eric played lead electric on While my guitar gently weeps, with George on acoustic, it was Paul or John on bass – here we attempt to track down whether it was Paul, or Ringo in self imposed exile, who beat those Ludwig tubs for Dear Prudence.
Can you resist this musical mystery tour of events more than half a century ago?
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Synchronicity perhaps? I was just reading one of the more bizarre conspiracy theories – the one about how Paul McCartney died in ’66 and was replaced by somebody else. Nowadays I don’t merely dismiss conspiracy theories, but this one dumbfounds me because I feel like screaming along with Basil Fawlty: “What’s the bloody point?” I feel the same about the one that says Shakespeare wasn’t really Shakespeare. Even if they were true, what difference would they make? And what is the motive?
The Beatles were marginally before my time i.e. their rise happened during my lifetime but only just. So I don’t really get the “sinister” fixation that some Americans in particular had about them i.e. that they came over to “corrupt” the Land of the Free. And that Theodore Adorno wrote their lyrics as part of that dastardly Frankfurt School “Cultural Marxist” corruption of the stars and stripes!
(One of the techniques of tarring Marxist writers is to take their description of the ills of capitalist society and recast them as recommendations or aims. A case of shooting the messenger.)
Sinatra and Farrow was one of the odder pairings. She hated his stunted adolescent view of hanging out with “the boys” – and we know what “boys” these are! The couple broke up when he threatened to leave her if she had a career of her own by agreeing to star in “Rosemary’s Baby”. She did. And of course he was true to his word.
Previn/ Farrow made more sense. In my opinion, Previn’s recordings of the Vaughan Williams symphonies have never been bettered. Mia said he used to cry over the scores. He was also responsible for what for me is the finest ever Morecambe and Wise sketch – indeed probably the finest comedy sketch full stop.
Andre Previn’s appearance – Eric hoisting him by the lapels and hissing that he, Eric, was playing all the right notes, “though not necessarily in the right order” – was an iconic moment in comedy: up there with Captain Mainwaring’s “don’t tell him your name, Pike” and Hancock’s “madam I did not come here for a lecturer on communism” (triggered by a nurse refusing to confirm that the blood he’d donated would “go to a white person”).
Another of Mr Previn’s wives, Dory, has featured twice on this site’s tune for the day slot but I can’t comment on his own work: I simply don’t know classical music well enough to differentiate one leading conductor from another. (With the partial exception of Karajan, whose Mozart Requiem is the most sublime I’ve heard.) You are clearly well informed.
Something extraordinary happened with the Beatles, a textbook case of the whole being greater than the sum of its parts. Their magic and genius have if anything been enhanced in the decades following their disbandment. History has been kind to their legacy.
And one thing not dealt with by the “Paul is dead” lot is that the guy who replaced him must have been one hell of a talent – possibly greater than the original! Unless of course it was truly Teddy Adorno who was “the supplier”? Perhaps that was what “Paperback Writer” was really all about?
….OK I’ll stop now!
Paperback Writer was one of my favourite Beatles singles, though it was the B side – Rain – which heralded gems to come in the shape of the amazing album, Revolver.
It’s a known fact that Elvis lives on a ranch in California or maybe New Mexico.
Jerry Garcia is a frequent guest.