The song of the day for Thursday, September 25, 2014 is “Nature Boy.”
About This Song
Today’s song has a quite interesting background. “Nature Boy” was written in 1947 by eden ahbez, the name adopted by George Alexander Aberle, who was born in Brooklyn, New York in 1908. In the 1930s, he lived in Kansas City and worked as a pianist and band leader. In the early 1940s, he moved to Los Angeles and began playing piano in a health food and raw food store run by John and Vera Richter, who followed a Naturmensch and Lebensreform philosophy influenced by the Wandervogel movement in Germany. In following their philosophy, he and other followers grew their hair long, became vegetarians and were, for all practical purposes, the earliest hippies. They called themselves The Nature Boys.
At the suggestion of Johnny Mercer, eden ahbez approached Nat King Cole with his song “Nature Boy.” Unable to meet with Nat Cole personally, he left the song with Cole’s valet. Cole began to perform the song in his concerts; in 1947 he recorded it for Capitol Records, with an arrangement by Frank DeVol, who used strings and flute in his orchestration. The song was a big hit for Nat Cole and Capitol Records.
In The Jazz Standards, Ted Gioia describes the song:
So many years later, “Nature Boy” is still a deep and deeply moving song. If a performer can rise to the occasion of delivering it — and it requires a certain poise and and earnestness to do so convincingly — audiences can be left reeling in the aftermath.
About This Version
Tony Bennett and Lady Gaga recorded “Nature Boy” for their new album Cheek To Cheek. The effective orchestration is by Jorge Calandrelli; the flute solo is from Paul Horn.
We at The Year of Tony Bennett are quite taken with this song and both of us are finding ourselves listening to it over and over. I would say that we are left reeling in the aftermath of the extraordinary performance from these two great artists.
“Nature Boy,” as well as the album Cheek To Cheek, is available from iTunes.