The recording sessions on these days took place at Trident Studios, which had state-of-the-art eight-track tape machines. At EMI Studios, The Beatles were accustomed to using only four, though in truth EMI actually had eight-track decks; it’s just that no one was allowed to use them. According to engineer Ken Townsend,

Whenever we got in a new piece of equipment, it went to Francis Thompson, our resident expert on tape machines, and he would spend about a year working on it. The joke was always that when he’d finished with it he’d let the studios use it!

In early September The Beatles would “liberate” an eight-track from Thompson’s office, where it was languishing awaiting his approval. But in the meantime, they made pretty good use of the facilities at Trident. “Dear Prudence” — which, as we all know, John had written in Rishikesh to try and coax Mia Farrow’s sister out of her room — is among The Beatles’ most magnificent recordings.

Is there anyone out there who doesn’t like “Dear Prudence”? I mean, there must be — there’s no such thing as music that’s 100% universal. But it’s hard to imagine. If you’re reading this and you have an aversion to “Dear Prudence,” I’d like to ask … well, I’m tempted to say, “What’s wrong with you?”, but that’s not fair. De gustibus non est disputandum. But why, how, and wherefore?

The basic track, recorded on the 28th, featured John and George on acoustic guitars and Paul on drums. Legend has it that the hypnotic finger-picking part played by John was inspired by a pattern he learned from Donovan in India. On the 29th overdubs including lead vocals (John), bass and piano (Paul), electric guitar (George), and backing vocals, tambourine, and handclaps (everybody, including Mal Evans, Apple artist Jackie Lomax, and Paul’s cousin John) were added.

50 years later, one is still floored by the sheer splendor and scope of this song, from its gentle beginning to its kaleidoscopic conclusion … it just doesn’t get any better.

John’s sunniness here somehow feels realer — more earned — than Paul’s on songs like “Good Day Sunshine” or “Got to Get You into My Life” (or “Hey Jude,” for that matter). Is that just because I know what a dark, angry person John could be? If Paul had written these 16 syllables:

The sun is up

The sky is blue

It’s beautiful

And so are you

I would probably be all, like, <cringe>. But John seems like he means it.

Thanks, John.

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