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The Beatles Songs: Mother Nature's Son

The history of this classic Beatles song

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The Beatles Songs: Mother Nature's Son

The original US sheet music for "Mother Nature's Son"

rarebeatles.com

Mother Nature's Son

Written by: Paul McCartney (100%)
(credited as Lennon-McCartney)

Recorded: August 9 and 20, 1968 (Studio 2, Abbey Road Studios, London, England)
Mixed: August 20 and October 12, 1968
Length: 2:47
Takes: 26

Musicians:

Paul McCartney: lead vocals, acoustic guitars (1967 Martin D-28), drums
Unknown: two trumpets, two trombones

Available on: (CDs in bold)

The Beatles (a/k/a "The White Album"; UK: Apple PMC 7067-8; US: Apple SWBO 101; Parlophone CDP 7 46443 2; CDP 7 46444 2)

History:

  • One of two Beatles-penned songs that were specifically inspired by the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, "Mother Nature's Son" was a product of one of the guru's lectures, given while the band studied under him in Rishikesh, India during the Spring of 1968. However, Paul has since claimed that the song was actually written at his father's house in Liverpool after the band's return to England, suggesting that McCartney was merely applying the lessons of that lecture; he has also since claimed that the Great American Songbook standard "Nature Boy," written by the "original hippie," naturalist eden ahbez, was a lyrical inspiration. ("Nature Boy" had first been a hit for crooner Nat "King" Cole in 1948.)
  • Wherever it was written, it was done so just after the band's return, as it appears, nearly intact in its finished form, on the "Kinfauns" demos made at George's Esher home in late May of that year. A simple folk song with some typically McCartneyesque embellishments, "Mother Nature's Son" was built mainly around Paul's double-tracked acoustic guitar, a bucolic and sweet, if not very deep, exploration of the joys of nature and song. Paul first previewed the number while recording "Blackbird" on June 11.
  • As with a number of Paul's "White Album" songs, it was a one-man recording, laid down in one session on August 9, 1968, then overdubbed with drums. (Paul then used the rest of the session to create "Wild Honey Pie" and an unreleased, "lost" song entitled "Etcetera.") On August 20, producer George Martin worked out a simple arrangement for four horns; during that session, John Lennon and George Harrison entered, apparently unaware that the bassist had even begun working on the song. Engineer Ken Scott later recalled that the tension was unbearable, but the two soon left, and everyone went back to work. Incidents like these opened up the growing rift between Paul and the rest of the band, one of the factors that would eventually lead to their breakup.

Trivia:
  • Aside from some vocal scatting by Paul, the only other instruments on "Mother Nature's Son" besides horns and guitar are a few drum pieces, used to flesh out the rhythm. Paul accomplished the unique sound on the recording by placing the drum kit in a hallway to give it a booming feel: three years later, Led Zeppelin would use the same effect on John Bonham's drums to come up with the legendary beat of "When The Levee Breaks." The booming bass drum is often mistaken for timpani, while the slapping beat Paul adds with his hands is often confused for a set of bongos.
  • The original intro to this song, as heard on the demo, went on several seconds longer, but was edited down for the final version.
  • John attended the same Maharishi lecture on nature that Paul did, and wrote a song called "I'm Just a Child of Nature" that was never recorded for the White Album, apparently because the band didn't want to feature two songs with the same subject matter. Three years later, working out some issues with wife Yoko Ono, John rewrote the lyrics, and the result was the classic "Jealous Guy." (The line "I was feeling insecure" was originally "On the road to Rishikesh," and "I'm just a child of nature" was eventually rewritten as "I'm sorry that I hurt you.")

Covered by: John Denver, Harry Nilsson, Jack White, Ramsey Lewis, Sheryl Crow, Gryphon, John Lucien, Brad Mehidau, Glay, Lynn Blessing, Evan Marshal, Chihiro Onitsuka

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