Mother Nature’s Son - The Beatles

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"Mother Nature’s Son" - The Beatles (1968)

McCartney wrote "Mother Nature’s Son" in India after the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi gave a speech about man’s relationship to nature.

It features one of McCartney’s trademarked “haunting” melodies, wide-eyed tenor vocal, some beautiful acoustic plucking, and smartly-played brass.

In 2008 McCartney said that Nat King Cole’s 1948 standard “Nature Boy” influenced this gentle pastoral sound of the track, because, as he said, “that’s a song I love.”

He added:

At that time I considered myself a guy leaning towards the countryside. But I would have to tip a wink to Nature Boy. Though, when you think about it, the only thing they have in common is the word ‘nature’- the rest of the link is pretty tenuous.”

With the warm embrace of the trumpets and trombones in the background, McCartney can be heard tapping a copy of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s Songs of Hiawatha during the latter half of the track.

The engineers thoughtfully positioning a microphone over the book in order to capture its sound.
McCartney’s voice seems to gently float down from the hills. He plays an acoustic guitar, the tympani, and the bass drum. It was one of the four songs on The White Album that he recorded himself.

Beatle scholar Alan Pollack contends that "Mother Nature’s Son" was another one of those hymn-like folk songs that McCartney casted in a decidedly pop music formal scheme.

He writes:

“Even with such a spare number of disparate resources at play, the layering of the arrangement is subtly choreographed, with a couple of unique touches deftly ‘planted’ in the cinematic sense of the term.”

Beatle author Jonathan Gould adds:

“The chords and melody of the song are so pleasing, and the sound of Paul’s voice silhouetted against the sonorous backdrop of George Martin’s horns is so affecting, that the song transcends it satiric intentions. Toward the end, Paul runs out of words and simply hums along with the music the rest of the way- as if he too were transfixed by the beauty of the tune.”

A satire on a country and western mythology, “Mother Nature’s Son” satirical element persists because of the tune’s simply symmetry. It establishes an artificial present in which the speaker’s yearnings for transcendence have seemingly already been satisfied. Yet as surely as the sun goes down, Paul’s “swaying daisies [that] sing a lazy song beneath the sun” will die.

Professor Ken Womack opines that the “Mother Nature’s Son” pointedly avoids discussion of life’s cyclical maneuvers between birth and death. He insists the track depicts life as a generally benevolent experience with scant regard for its corporeal limits.
 

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