On 11 February 2019 I set myself the challenge of reading 1001 Songs You Must Hear Before You Die by Robert Dimery (ed.) and following the book’s advice to the letter. I’ve previously read 1001 Films… and started 1001 Albums… but felt 1001 Songs… would be a sensible place to start for what I have in mind here.
My challenge is to read about one song per day and listen to it (YouTube and Spotify, I need you tonight!) before sharing my own thoughts. Some songs I will love, others I’ll hate, and I’m sure there will be those that leave me perplexed but listen to them I shall.
I’ll also try, and most likely fail, to pinpoint the best song from the 1001 on offer but I’m nothing if not foolhardy. Instead of one song, I’m predicting I’ll have about 100 favourites by the end and may have to resort to a Top 10 so far to maintain any semblance of sanity.
So long as I post every day (including Christmas) then this challenge should come to an end on Wednesday 8 November 2021. Staying with the Barney Stinson theme I am hoping that the whole experience will prove to be… legendary!
The Nat King Cole Trio – Nature Boy (1948)
” 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.
We remain in the US and enjoy a second appearance today from Nat King Cole and the famous Trio he was part of. Nature Boy was a massive deal for Nat King Cole. Not only would it top the US charts but it would endear him to a wider audience with both white and black Americans now appreciating his music. Nature Boy was written by eden ahbez and is semi-autobiographical.
Anyone that has seen Baz Luhrmann’s Moulin Rouge (2001) will immediately recognise Nature Boy for Nat King Cole sings of “a very strange enchanted boy” and how they “spoke of many things, fools and kings” before the Nature Boy of the title offers a piece of wisdom in the form of “the greatest thing you’ll ever learn, is just to love and be loved in return.” eden ahbez wrote the song after spending time with Nature Boys, followers of German philosophy that stipulated a diet of fruit and vegetables as one of many tenets they lived by. eden ahbez was the name the songwriter embraced as part of this community and the song echoes a community where love is seemingly the only thing that truly matters.
I did enjoy Nat King Cole’s rendition of Nature Boy. That said, it was hard not to shake the image of John Leguizamo as Toulouse-Lautrec singing sections of the song to lead us through the opening reels of Moulin Rouge. It’s fascinating to see where the song began and heartwarming that Nat King Cole was able to resonate with such a large audience despite this period in American history being one before the civil rights movements of the 1960s.
Favourite song so far: