Saturday, March 7, 2009

Mother Nature's Son

I love living in New England for lots of reasons, but one of my favorite things about it is that it makes you really appreciate a nice day. They come along so infrequently that they feel miraculous, especially in March, when winter has been so oppressive for so long. In Boston it feels like the entire city drops what they're doing and comes outside on a nice day, packing the parks with their dogs and their picnics and their bizarre (for Bostonians) good moods. I'm no exception-- today, which is sunny and breezy and the warmest it's been in ages, I woke up strangely early for a Saturday and took a couple good walks in between moving loads at the laundromat, and it was awesome. It's the closest I can come to a truly pastoral mood without actually leaving the city.

So today I'll listen to "Mother Nature's Son," Paul McCartney's pastoral, just to keep the mood going.

This is another one of those songs from the White Album that Paul did pretty much entirely by himself-- or, more to the point, without any of the other Beatles playing on the track (Paul plays all the instruments on this except the brass). And its sunny feel hides darkness going on during its recording. Ringo was about two days away from quitting the band (temporarily) at this point, which was probably the nadir of the miserable White Album sessions.

But don't try telling that to Paul, who's just sitting singing songs for everyone. "Mother Nature's Son" was composed on the Beatles' trip to India with the Maharishi, and inspired by a talk the Maharishi gave on mankind's relationship with nature. Like any good pastoral, it's hugely idealistic, almost to the point of being dopey. But it's also pretty, and straightforward, and uncomplicated-- a nice thing to listen to on a day like today. Paul's guitar sounds to me like Donovan's here (though I might be extrapolating that-- Donovan was in India with the Beatles and the Maharishi and he might have crept into my brain that way, but do you hear the Donovan thing too?-- maybe just me) and his drums sound muted and strange, probably because he was recording them from way down a hallway to try to get that effect. The brass doesn't go overboard, just sort of quietly hums its way through its little melodies, and it all comes together into a thoroughly pleasant little song. When you listen to the White Album, "Mother Nature's Son" follows the rocktastic self-loathing of "Yer Blues" in a way that's almost startling-- it makes it seem even quieter and dopier. But it's also a nice breath of fresh air after that song.

And now it's time for me to run outside and get some more fresh air myself.

"Mother Nature's Son," released in the U.K. side C track 3 of The Beatles, a.k.a. the White Album, November 22, 1968; in the U.S. November 25, 1968.
I am indebted for all discography information to the tremendous

1 comment:

  1. I love how this song comes off the intensity of Yer Blues, what a contrast, and then leads to another rocker --- Everybody's Got Something to Hide. I can hear the opening guitar cords. Re Donovan; I don't hear the similarity, but maybe that's me. I think of Donovan, i think of Mellow Yellow. But speaking of mellow, Paul's voice is so soothing here i could fall back asleep.