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Nature Boy by Nat King Cole

Album: Best Of Nat King ColeReleased: 1947Charted:
1
  • This song was written by Eden Ahbez, one of the strangest songwriters of the pre-hippie era. He was a beatnik poet, but more accurately a proto-hippie, choosing to wear long hair, a full beard and long, white, flowing garments that promoted a Christ-like appearance. He lived in Griffith Park in Los Angeles and ate fruit, vegetables and nuts. Ahbez was born in Brooklyn in 1908, and he claimed to have been raised in an orphanage and to have crossed the US on foot eight times before age 35. He moved to Los Angeles in the '40s, lived on $3 a week, and lectured on Hollywood street corners about Oriental mysticism.
  • Ahbez implored Nat King Cole's manager to look at his manuscript of "Nature Boy." Cole recognized the Yiddish melody, liked the lyrics and added it to his act. It was well received so Cole decided to record it. One problem: Cole and Capitol Records could not find Ahbez in order to secure the publishing rights. Finally they located Ahbez, camped beneath the first L in the "Hollywood" sign.
  • Nat King Cole recorded one other Ahbez songs: "Land of Love." Ahbez released his own album in 1960 called Eden's Island. He spent time with Brian Wilson before The Beach Boys recorded Pet Sounds. Ahbez, his wife, Anna, and their son Zoma lived in Griffith Park with their bicycle, sleeping bags and a juicer. With their unusual lifestyle, the family became legendary.
  • According to his friend Joe Romersa, Ahbez wanted to correct the last lyric. He decided that "The greatest thing you'll ever learn is to love and be loved in return," was not really what he wanted to say, since to be loved in return is too much of a deal and has nothing to do with love. Ahbez said that the last line should be, "The greatest thing you'll ever learn is to love, just to love, and be loved." >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Garry - Anchorage, AK, for all above
  • Paul McCartney told Mojo magazine October 2008 that "since I was a kid I'd always loved the melody and words of that song." He added: "The writer is one of these guys who came and went, a little bit of a hippy in his day. He wrote this rather strange little song when you look at the lyrics - it's rather gay! In a nice way."
  • This was the first song Nat King Cole recorded where he was credited as a solo artist. His previous recordings were as the King Cole Trio, where he was the piano player and lead vocalist. On "Nature Boy," he didn't play the piano, which to this point was considered his strong suit. It marked a turning point for Cole, who became known for vocal talents on songs with orchestral arrangements; his next two hits were in this style: "Mona Lisa" and "Too Young." Before Capitol Records signed Frank Sinatra, Cole was their biggest star.
  • David Bowie teamed up with Massive Attack to cover the song for the central theme in the Nicole Kidman movie Moulin Rouge.
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Comments: 10

Nature Boy is one of my favorite songs throughout history, especially the original version with the instrumentation and Nat King Cole's beautiful vocal performance. I actually interpreted the lyrics to be about a Peter Pan type of person who lived an unusual, yet fascinating life that somehow impacted others, only to later realize the "hippie" writer, Eden Ahbez, was actually writing an autobiographical piece of poetry that illustrated his own unusual, yet believable experiences. It actually can be interpreted in a Judeo-Christian way with speaking about fools and kings prior to the simple, timeless lesson of love being the greatest lesson one can ever learn. By the way, the Natalie Cole version appeared on her Unforgettable album where in addition to doing the legendary "duet" with her famous father on the title track, she covered many of his classics, including Nature Boy, in her own solo style accompanied my many talented musicians, some of whom worked for Mr. Cole himself. Nat King Cole also did a parody of this and other hit songs from his career in a live recording on his box set. "Mr. Cole Won't Rock And Roll" satirized how the emergence of rock and roll of the 1950's shifted pop music preferences, especially among teens, away from the sweeter, romantic style that Nat, Frank Sinatra, and many others were doing. Though many jazz purists may not like the direction Nat King Cole would take over the next decade and a half, I believe these songs made him able to do even more for music and society than being a purely instrumental pianist and bandleader ever could have, as talented as he was in those areas.David - Orlando
A most beautiful song :) First recorded by Nat King Cole as mentioned above.. and then covered by a whole bunch of people including the likes of Frank Sinatra, David Bowie, Miles Davis (instrumental), Natalie Cole, Cher, Celine Dion, Bobby Darin, Kurt Elling, Jose Feliciano and I'm sure I've missed a few others..Raghav - Fremont, Ca
This song is amazing as a lullaby! lol I Adored Casey Abrams' vesrion of this on American Idol!! He's amazing!Megan - Stevenson, Al
There's a really nice version of this by YouTube sensation Pomplamoose. It's at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LNpwBpZUrzkJim - Morgantown, Wv
I thought this song was about Buddha or Jesus Christ!Llani Smarzo - Syracuse, Ny
There is also a nice cover of this song in the "Collector's Item" album of Grace Slick & The Great Society with a flute solo in it.Sgt. Pepper - Ankara, Turkey
This song was also used during the opening credits for the 2001 movie "Moulin Rouge" covered by, I think, David Bowie.Chris - La Jolla, Ca
This was covered by Leonard Nimoy on his "Touch" album. Really quite nice.Ekristheh - Halath, United States
This song is also featured in the 1948 film "The Boy with Green Hair." This is the song that really launched Nat King Cole's singing career. Dean Stockwell stars as the boy in a very strange but touching film.Edward - West Hartford, Ct
This song was recorded by Annie Haslam on her 1977 album "Annie in Wonderland". Her's is actually the only version I REMEMBER hearing.Reg - Kemptville, On
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