Released: 22 November 1968 (UK), 25 November 1968 (US)
Paul McCartney: vocals, acoustic guitar, drums, timpani, bass
Uncredited: two trumpets, two trombones
Written by Paul McCartney, Mother Nature’s Son was inspired by a lecture on nature given by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi in India, although the song was mostly completed in Liverpool.
I seem to remember writing Mother Nature’s Son at my dad’s house in Liverpool. I often used to do that if I’d gone up to see him. Visiting my family I’d feel in a good mood, so it was often a good occasion to write songs. So this was me doing my mother nature’s son bit. I’ve always loved the [Nat King Cole] song called Nature Boy: ‘There was a boy, a very strange and gentle 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. There might have been a little help from John with some of the verses.
Many Years From Now, Barry Miles
By including Mother Nature’s Son on the White Album, it was decided that a lyrically similar one by John Lennon should remain unrecorded.
All We Are Saying, David Sheff
In the studio
Mother Nature’s Son was recorded during an often fractious period for The Beatles. McCartney worked mostly alone on the song; no other Beatles appear on the recording.
On 9 August 1968 he recorded 25 takes of Mother Nature’s Son. He recorded his vocals and acoustic guitar simultaneously, and take 24 was judged to be the best attempt. Take two, meanwhile, was released on Anthology 3 in 1996.
The song was completed on 20 August in studio two. Onto take 24 McCartney overdubbed timpani, another acoustic guitar part, and drums – the latter set up in the corridor outside the studio, to give a staccato effect.
McCartney worked with George Martin on the brass arrangement, also recorded on this day. John Lennon and Ringo Starr were working on Yer Blues elsewhere in Abbey Road at the time; they did, however, briefly enter studio two.
Paul was downstairs going through the arrangement with George and the brass players. Everything was great, everyone was in great spirits. It felt really good. Suddenly, halfway through, John and Ringo walked in and you could cut the atmosphere with a knife. An instant change. It was like that for 10 minutes and then as soon as they left it felt great again. It was very bizarre.
The Complete Beatles Recording Sessions, Mark Lewisohn