Day 172: “Mother Nature’s Son”

When was it recorded?   Aug. 9 and 20, 1968

When was it first released, and on which album?   Nov. 22, 1968 on “The Beatles”

Who wrote it?   McCartney

Have I heard this song before?   Yes

What my research dug up:

A lecture given by the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi in India inspired Paul to begin writing “Mother Nature’s Son.” Nat King Cole and Linda inspired him to finish it.

“I seem to remember writing ‘Mother Nature’s Son’ at my dad’s house in Liverpool. I often used to do that if I’d gone up to see him. Visiting my family I’d feel in a good mood, so it was often a good occasion to write songs. So this was me doing my mother nature’s son bit. I’ve always loved the [Nat King Cole] song called ‘Nature Boy:’ ‘There was a boy, a very strange and gentle boy…’ He loves nature, and ‘Mother Nature’s Son’ was inspired by that song. I’d always loved nature, and when Linda and I got together we discovered we had this deep love of nature in common.” — Paul McCartney (Barry Miles, Many Years From Now)

American jazz musician Nat King Cole did record the most famous version of “Nature Boy,” but George Aberle – better known as eden ahbez – wrote the song…. I think. “Nature Boy” sounds a lot like both Antonín Dvořák’s “Piano Quintet No. 2 in A, Op. 81” (1887) and Herman Yablokoff’s “Shvayg, Mayn Harts” (“Hush, My Heart”) (1935). (ahbez settled the claim with Yablokoff out of court.)

Anyway, according to Wikipedia, “The lyrics of the song relate to a 1940s Los Angeles-based group called ‘Nature Boys,’ a subculture of proto-hippies of which ahbez was a member.” Cole’s 1948 cover reached #1 on the American music charts and stayed there for eight weeks, cementing its status as a classic.

Like “Fool on the Hill” (Day 66), I thought John contributed more to this song. I know how I got mixed up, though – the Maharishi’s lecture inspired John to write a similar song, “I’m Just a Child of Nature.” He demoed the song with the Beatles, but “Child of Nature” was too similar to “Nature’s Son” and left unrecorded. John later turned it into his solo song, “Jealous Guy.”

Like most White Album songs, a demo of “Mother Nature’s Song” was recorded at George’s Esher home.

Paul is the only Beatle featured on the track. On Aug. 9, he recorded 25 takes just singing and playing the guitar – Take 2 appeared on “Anthology 3.”

Take 24 was deemed the best, and Paul added timpani, guitars, and drums to it 11 days later. The same day, George Martin added an orchestral score (alas, those musicians were not credited at all my sources). Quoth Wikipedia, “The drums sound more like bongos, and this was achieved by putting the drums halfway down an uncarpeted corridor with the mics at a far end which resulted in a staccato sound.” Interesting.

Another story I had read before but didn’t know occurred during the recording of this song:

“Paul was downstairs going through the arrangement with George [Martin] and the brass players. Everything was great, everyone was in great spirits. It felt really good. Suddenly, halfway through, John and Ringo walked in and you could cut the atmosphere with a knife. An instant change. It was like that for 10 minutes and then as soon as they left it felt great again. It was very bizarre.” — Ken Scott (Mark Lewisohn, The Complete Beatles Recording Sessions)





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