Mother Nature’s Son

The Beatles (White Album) artworkWritten by: Lennon-McCartney
Recorded: 9, 20 August 1968
Producer: George Martin
Engineer: Ken Scott

Released: 22 November 1968 (UK), 25 November 1968 (US)

Paul McCartney: vocals, acoustic guitar, drums, timpani, bass
Uncredited: two trumpets, two trombones

Available on:
The Beatles (White Album)
Anthology 3

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.

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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.
Paul McCartney
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.

That was from a lecture of Maharishi where he was talking about nature, and I had a piece called I'm Just A Child Of Nature, which turned into Jealous Guy years later. Both inspired from the same lecture of Maharishi.
John Lennon
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.
Ken Scott
The Complete Beatles Recording Sessions, Mark Lewisohn

McCartney also recorded two other songs, Wild Honey Pie and Etcetera, during the 20 August session.

17 responses on “Mother Nature’s Son

  1. richard calvert

    ‘Mother Natures Son’- What a special song on such a; should I say, ‘Intense’ album! It seems to float by like a feather in the wind. The songs simple beauty brings back memories of ‘And I love her’ or ‘You’ve got to hide your love away’. Paul, was absolutely essential to so many Beatles’ songs. The years 1968′-1969′ we’re in many respects ‘very’ un- pleasant;..and yet songs like this we’re such a
    welcomed + pleasant surprise! Richard 2009′

    1. Rolindadice

      It’s a bit of a shock to me to learn that George Harrison did not play the guitar break on this track. It has the ‘style’ of George, and exhibits a very confident hand, particularly the note selection and vibrato in the end chords. Kudos to Paul if he played this.

  2. kedame

    I can’t believe such a lovely song doesn’t have more comments. It’s one of my absolute favorites, and I really enjoy Paul’s odd finger picking style here. I watched a tutorial on it, and his style is very distinct on songs such as this, Blackbird, and Mull of Kintyre.

  3. 2much4mymirror

    Full of peace indeed. When he gets to the line “swaying daisies sing a lazy song beneath the sun” my spirit is in such peace and at the same time elevated by the beauty of the song. Beauty enhanced by profound quietness.

  4. Gordon Joffrion

    I am a film producer and this song always brings images of soldiers playing their guitars in their off time and images of them fighting in the fields….one of my favorites… sounds like Nam to me…

  5. J Neo Marvin

    I always wondered whether Paul might have been giving a slight wink to the Bonzo Dog Band on this song. “I’m Bored”, which came out a year earlier, included the lyric: “I’m bored/with Mother Nature or her son!” Since Paul produced a single of theirs and they were in Magical Mystery Tour it seems like more than a coincidence.

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