Natalie Cole #4 "Nature Boy"
"Unforgettable" Concert (1992) Pasadena Civic Auditorium CA.
"Nature Boy" is a song first recorded by American jazz singer Nat King Cole. It was released on March 29, 1948, as a single by Capitol Records, and later appeared on the album, The Nat King Cole Story. The song was written in 1947 by eden ahbez and is partly autobiographical. It is a tribute to ahbez's mentor Bill Pester, who had originally introduced him to Naturmensch and Lebensreform philosophies, which ahbez practised. When Cole was performing in 1947 at the Lincoln Theater, ahbez wanted to present the song to him, but was ignored. He left the copy with Cole's valet, and from him the singer came to know of "Nature Boy". After receiving appreciation for his performance of the song, Cole wanted to record it.
The recording took place on August 22, 1947, and featured an orchestra conducted by Frank De Vol-the in-house arranger of Capitol Records. He used strings and flute as instrumentation in the song, to capture the "enchanting" vibe of the track. The lyrics are a self-portrait of ahbez and his life. The final line-"The greatest thing you'll ever learn, Is just to love and be loved in return"-is considered a poignant moment in the song, with multiple interpretations of it. "Nature Boy" was released amidst the American Federation of Musicians (AFM) ban of 1948, but became commercially successful, reaching the top of the Billboard music charts and selling over a million copies. Receiving critical acclaim also, "Nature Boy" helped to introduce Cole to a wider audience, especially the white music market, and generated royalties for ahbez. In 1999, the song was awarded the Grammy Hall of Fame Award. However, "Nature Boy" was also the subject of lawsuits, with Yiddish composer Herman Yablokoff claiming that it was plagiarized from his song "Shvayg mayn harts" ("Hush My Heart"), which he wrote for his play Papirosn (1935). In the end, ahbez and Yablokoff settled out of court.
Following Cole's success with the song, rival record companies released cover versions of "Nature Boy" by other artists like Frank Sinatra and Sarah Vaughan, which were also successful. It ultimately became a pop and jazz standard, with many artists interpreting the song, including Tony Bennett and Lady Gaga, who recorded it for their jazz collaborative album, Cheek to Cheek (2014). It was also used in numerous films like The Boy with Green Hair, The Talented Mr. Ripley and the 2001 musical, Moulin Rouge!, for which singer David Bowie recorded a techno version.
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