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‘Mother Nature’s Son’: The Story Behind The Song

Inspired by one of the Maharishi’s lectures, Mother Nature’s Son found Paul McCartney writing “a heartfelt song about my child-of-nature leanings”.

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A talk given by the Maharishi while The Beatles were studying Transcendental Meditation in Rishikesh, India, would prove to be the inspiration of two of Lennon and McCartney’s most tender songs – ‘Mother Nature’s Son’ and ‘Child Of Nature’. John later explained that it was “a lecture of Maharishi where he was talking about nature” which inspired both songs.

“A heartfelt song about my child-of-nature leanings”

John demoed ‘Child Of Nature’ for “The White Album”, but the song had been shelved by the time they came to recording the album. Paul’s ‘Mother Nature’s Son’, however, was to make the cut. The first two verses appear as the second song in Paul’s notebook entitled Spring Songs, Rishikesh 1968, while the third verse was added back in England.

The Maharishi’s lecture may have been the starting point for the song, however, but as Paul later explained, it was written with his childhood explorations of local nature sights in mind. “I was always able to take my bike and in five minutes I’d be in quite deep countryside. This is where my love of the country came from. I remember the Dam Wood, which had millions of rhododendron bushes. This is what I was writing about in ‘Mother Nature’s Son’, it was basically a heartfelt song about my child-of-nature leanings.”

The final verse was written back on Merseyside, while visiting his family at Rembrandt, the house on the Wirral that Paul had bought for his father, Jim, in 1964. “Visiting my family, I’d feel in a good mood, so it was often a good occasion to write songs… I’ve always loved the song called ‘Nature Boy’; ‘There was a boy/A very strange enchanted 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.”

“They never taught you how to get the best sound out of a book”

Recording began on 9 August, with Paul running through take after take of the song alone with his acoustic guitar, trying out different vocal stylings before finally settling on Take 24 as the keeper. On 20 August, Paul and George Martin returned to the song to add overdubs – including a brass ensemble first suggested back in June.

While working on ‘Blackbird’, Paul, John and George Martin were discussing arrangement possibilities for the song. John had come up with the idea of a small brass section, having been inspired by the arrangement on Harry Nilsson’s recent cover of Paul’s ‘She’s Leaving Home’. And while it was decided to keep ‘Blackbird’ to Paul and his guitar (plus a few common blackbirds backing him up), the horns got Paul’s thumbs up for ‘Mother Nature’s Son’ instead. And, sure enough, George Martin scored an arrangement for a pair of trumpets and a pair of trombones, making their appearance in time for the second verse. (Conversely, when Nilsson came to record a version of ‘Mother Nature’s Son’, he opted for strings rather than horns.)

That same day, Paul added vocal and guitar overdubs, before finishing things off with a couple of unusual percussion tracks. First off was something quite different for engineer Ken Scott. While listening to the track up in the control room, Paul had come up with a rhythm pattern and sound he liked by tapping on a book. As Scott joked, “They never taught you how to get the best sound out of a book at EMI, but I carefully miked it as best I could.” Scott was then called upon to mike a bass drum from two floors up in an Abbey Road stairwell, where the sound of the drum reverberating around the concrete gave the desired effect.

Speaking about ‘Mother Nature’s Son’ to Radio Luxembourg in 1968, Paul joked, “The only thing about this one, however, it says, ‘Born a poor young country boy,’ and I was born in Walton Hospital actually – so it’s a dirty lie!”

The super deluxe edition of The Beatles’ “White Album” is out now. Scroll down to read the full tracklist and order the box set here.

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The BEATLES (‘White Album’) releases include:

Super Deluxe: The comprehensive, individually numbered 7-disc and digital audio collections feature:

CDs 1 & 2: The BEATLES (‘White Album’) 2018 stereo album mix

CD3: Esher Demos

– Esher Demo tracks 1 through 19 sequenced in order of the finished song’s placement on ‘The White Album.’ Tracks 20-27 were not included on the album.

CDs 4, 5 & 6: Sessions

– 50 additional recordings, most previously unreleased, from ‘White Album’ studio sessions; all newly mixed from the four-track and eight-track session tapes, sequenced in order of their recording start dates.

Blu-ray:

– 2018 album mix in high resolution PCM stereo

– 2018 DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 album mix

– 2018 Dolby True HD 5.1 album mix

– 2018 direct transfer of the album’s original mono mix

Deluxe: The BEATLES (‘White Album’) 2018 stereo album mix + Esher Demos

The 3CD; 180-gram 4LP vinyl box set (limited edition); and digital audio collections pair the 2018 stereo album mix with the 27 Esher Demos.

Standard 2LP Vinyl: The BEATLES (‘White Album’) 2018 stereo mix

180-gram 2LP vinyl in gatefold sleeve with faithfully replicated original artwork

Super Deluxe [6CD+1Blu-ray set / digital audio collection]

CD1: The BEATLES (‘White Album’) 2018 Stereo Mix

Back in the U.S.S.R.
Dear Prudence
Glass Onion
Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da
Wild Honey Pie
The Continuing Story of Bungalow Bill
While My Guitar Gently Weeps
Happiness is a Warm Gun
Martha My Dear
I’m so tired
Blackbird
Piggies
Rocky Raccoon
Don’t Pass Me By
Why don’t we do it in the road?
I Will
Julia

CD2: The BEATLES (‘White Album’) 2018 Stereo Mix

Birthday
Yer Blues
Mother Nature’s Son
Everybody’s Got Something to Hide Except Me and My Monkey
Sexy Sadie
Helter Skelter
Long, Long, Long
Revolution 1
Honey Pie
Savoy Truffle
Cry Baby Cry
Revolution 9
Good Night

CD3: Esher Demos

Back in the U.S.S.R.
Dear Prudence
Glass Onion
Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da
The Continuing Story of Bungalow Bill
While My Guitar Gently Weeps
Happiness is a Warm Gun
I’m so tired
Blackbird
Piggies
Rocky Raccoon
Julia
Yer Blues
Mother Nature’s Son
Everybody’s Got Something to Hide Except Me and My Monkey
Sexy Sadie
Revolution
Honey Pie
Cry Baby Cry
Sour Milk Sea
Junk
Child of Nature
Circles
Mean Mr. Mustard
Polythene Pam
Not Guilty
What’s the New Mary Jane

CD4: Sessions

Revolution 1 (Take 18)
A Beginning (Take 4) / Don’t Pass Me By (Take 7)
Blackbird (Take 28)
Everybody’s Got Something to Hide Except Me and My Monkey (Unnumbered rehearsal)
Good Night (Unnumbered rehearsal)
Good Night (Take 10 with a guitar part from Take 5)
Good Night (Take 22)
Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da (Take 3)
Revolution (Unnumbered rehearsal)
Revolution (Take 14 – Instrumental backing track)
Cry Baby Cry (Unnumbered rehearsal)
Helter Skelter (First version – Take 2)

CD5: Sessions

Sexy Sadie (Take 3)
While My Guitar Gently Weeps (Acoustic version – Take 2)
Hey Jude (Take 1)
St. Louis Blues (Studio jam)
Not Guilty (Take 102)
Mother Nature’s Son (Take 15)
Yer Blues (Take 5 with guide vocal)
What’s the New Mary Jane (Take 1)
Rocky Raccoon (Take 8)
Back in the U.S.S.R. (Take 5 – Instrumental backing track)
Dear Prudence (Vocal, guitar & drums)
Let It Be (Unnumbered rehearsal)
While My Guitar Gently Weeps (Third version – Take 27)
(You’re so Square) Baby, I Don’t Care (Studio jam)
Helter Skelter (Second version – Take 17)
Glass Onion (Take 10)

CD6: Sessions

I Will (Take 13)
Blue Moon (Studio jam)
I Will (Take 29)
Step Inside Love (Studio jam)
Los Paranoias (Studio jam)
Can You Take Me Back? (Take 1)
Birthday (Take 2 – Instrumental backing track)
Piggies (Take 12 – Instrumental backing track)
Happiness is a Warm Gun (Take 19)
Honey Pie (Instrumental backing track)
Savoy Truffle (Instrumental backing track)
Martha My Dear (Without brass and strings)
Long, Long, Long (Take 44)
I’m so tired (Take 7)
I’m so tired (Take 14)
The Continuing Story of Bungalow Bill (Take 2)
Why don’t we do it in the road? (Take 5)
Julia (Two rehearsals)
The Inner Light (Take 6 – Instrumental backing track)
Lady Madonna (Take 2 – Piano and drums)
Lady Madonna (Backing vocals from take 3)Across the Universe (Take 6)

Blu-ray: The BEATLES (‘White Album’)

Audio Features:

: PCM Stereo (2018 Stereo Mix)

: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 (2018)

: Dolby True HD 5.1 (2018)

: Mono (2018 Direct Transfer of ‘The White Album’ Original Mono Mix)

Deluxe [3CD digipak / 180-gram 4LP vinyl box set (limited edition) / digital audio collection]

The BEATLES (‘White Album’) 2018 Stereo Mix

Esher Demos

Standard 2LP Vinyl [180-gram]

The BEATLES (‘White Album’) 2018 Stereo Mix

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