Friday, May 06, 2011

Nature Boy

When Nat King Cole's performance of the song "Nature Boy" was number one for eight weeks in 1948, there was a sort of media frenzy over the song's composer, eden ahbez (he spelled his name without capital letters.) ahbez, a musician and composer, born in New York, by 1948 living in California, was a proto-hippie. Not the earliest, because as this linked article shows, German immigrants brought their back-to-nature ways with them to the U.S. as early as the first years of the Twentieth Century.

"Hippie Roots & the Perennial Subculture" by Gordon Kennedy and Kody Ryan.

Life magazine did an article on ahbez in its May 15, 1948 issue.

There really is nothing new, is there? This album, released in 1960, looks like it would be more at home in 1968. It looked very unusual to album buyers in the crewcut and bow tie era in which it appeared, and didn't sell well.

ahbez was a couple of decades ahead of the large hippie movement made up of Baby Boomers, born around the time "Nature Boy" was a hit on the radio. By the mid-'60s and the "Summer of Love," flower power and Woodstock, most of the hippie generation probably didn't know who ahbez was.

eden ahbez died in 1995 at age 86, after a car wreck.

Here's Nat King Cole's rendition of the hit song:

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