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Posts Tagged ‘Nat King Cole’

It was about this time last year that I ran a post with a couple of different versions of the song, Nature Boy, the wonderful song first sung by the incomparable Nat King Cole. Maybe it is the time in which we live, with an administration that seems hellbent on decimating all conservation efforts and environmental protections, but I really felt a need to hear the original again this morning. I thought it might be a good opportunity to repost the story of the interesting man who wrote the song. 

eden ahbez with cowboy jack pattonSometimes when you look behind something that’s been in front of you for years you find out things you would have never imagined otherwise. Such is the case with the song, Nature Boy.

Nature Boy, as recorded by the great Nat King Cole, has long been one of  my favorite songs. It has a wonderful haunting melody and tells the story of a “strange enchanted boy” and his search to find love. It always has had a sort of mystical feel to me, a real oddity in the world of popular music in 1948 when Nat King Cole recorded and had a huge hit with it, staying at #1 on the charts for eight weeks.

I was going to just have a short post and put up a YouTube video of Cole’s version but in doing so I saw the name of the songwriter, eden ahbez, and was intrigued, perhaps by the lack of capitalization in his name. Doing a little research I came across some photos of him such as the one above, from the late 40’s sitting with Cowboy Jack Patton (who wrote the song Ghost Riders in the Sky) and a spaniel of some sort. I’ll let you figure out who is who in the photo.  ahbez’s long hair and attire seemed really out of place for me in thinking of 1948 so I read on.

eden ahbezeden ahbez was a real one of a kind character in the world of music and in general. You could probably guess that from the name which he adopted and wrote only in lower case letters. Born in 1908, he is regarded as the first hippie by many, a long-haired and bearded wanderer who crisscrossed the country on foot, wearing robes and sandals, maintained a vegetarian lifestyle and slept out under the stars. In fact, when Nature Boy hit the charts he and his wife were living under the first L on the Hollywood sign, which stoked a bit of a media frenzy around ahbez. He worked in and frequented a vegetarian restaurant (that’s where he met Cowboy Jack Patton, another interesting character) in 1940’s Los Angeles whose German owners preached the gospel of natural and raw foods. Their followers became known as the Nature Boys.

Not really what I was expecting from a pop songwriter in 1940’s LA. ahbez died in 1995 from injuries sustained in an auto accident. He was 87. His was a truly unique life, just waiting for a biographer to tell the story, and reading the little I discovered makes me find the song even more interesting. Hope you’ll do the same now that you know a bit more about eden ahbez

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GC Myers- Signals 2006It’s Sunday morning and I want to play one of my all-time favorite songs, Nature Boy.  It’s an extraordinary song from an unusual character by the name of eden ahbez, who I have written about before here on the blog, who wrote the song specifically for Nat King Cole.  The story of ahbez and how the song came into the hands of Nat King Cole is really interesting but the result was a glorious rendition of the song by Cole that remained locked on the charts at #1 for eight weeks in 1948.

Spare and elegant, it is an absolutely gorgeous song which I think is evidenced by the many, many fine versions of it through the years by a wide range of artists.  I thought for today I would stray from the Nat King Cole performance, as perfect as it is, to focus on versions by two other giants of jazz, Ella Fitzgerald and Miles Davis.  The first video is a wonderful piece of animation from artist Ros Lukman that has the inimitable Ella Fitzgerald accompanied by guitarist Joe Pass.  Just a great version as is Miles Davis’ interpretation  which is immediately below it.

Relax and give a listen. Have a good Sunday…


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I was looking for something else and came across this post from back in 2009 about one of my favorite songs and the unusual man who wrote it.  I thought it deserved a replay.  Plus I just felt like hearing “Nature Boy”this morning.  Here’s how it goes:

eden-ahbez-with-cowboy-jack-pattonSometimes when you look a little more behind something that’s been in front of you for years you find out things you might have never imagined otherwise.  Such is the case with the song, Nature Boy.

Nature Boy, as recorded by the great Nat King Cole,  has long been one of  my favorite songs.  It has a wonderful haunting melody and tells the story of a “strange enchanted boy” and his search to find love.  It always has had a sort of mystical feel to me, a real oddity in the world of popular music in 1948 when Nat King Cole recorded and had a huge hit with it, staying at #1 on the charts for eight weeks.

I was going to just have a short post and put up a YouTube video of Cole’s version but in doing so I saw the name of the songwriter, eden ahbez, and was intrigued.  Doing a little research I came across some photos of him such as the one above, from the late 40’s sitting with Cowboy Jack Patton ( who wrote Ghost Riders in the Sky) and a spaniel.  I’ll let you figure out who is who in the photo.  ahbez’s long hair and attire seemed really out of place for me in thinking of 1948 so I read on.

eden-ahbezeden ahbez was a real one of a kind character in the world of music and in general.  You could probably guess that from the name which he adopted and wrote only in lower case letters.   Born in 1908, he is regarded as the first hippie by many, a long-haired and bearded wanderer who crisscrossed the country on foot, wearing robes and sandals, maintained a vegetarian lifestyle and slept out under the stars.  In fact, when Nature Boy hit the charts he and his wife were living under the first L on the Hollywood sign, which stoked a bit of a media frenzy around ahbez.  He worked in and frequented a vegetarian restaurant (that’s where he met Cowboy Jack Patton, another interesting character) in 1940’s Los Angeles whose German owners preached the gospel of natural and raw foods.  Their followers became known as the Nature Boys.

He was not really what I was expecting from a pop songwriter in 1940’s LA.  ahbez died in 1995 from injuries sustained in an auto accident.  He was 87.  His was a truly unique life, just waiting for a biographer to tell the story, and reading the little I discovered makes me find the song even more interesting.  Hope you’ll do the same now that you know a bit more about eden ahbez

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GC Myers- Twixt Home and the Horizon smSunday morning and I’m back in the studio after a couple days down in the Alexandria/DC area.  And even though it was a very enjoyable time and a great opening for the Native Voice show, it is, as always, truly wonderful to be back in the studio this morning.  Back to my center.

I thought the work for this show looked very good on the walls of the Principle Gallery.  There’s more warmth in the wall color than the photos that have been posted show and the work seemed to really stand out against it.  This show consisted mainly of works on canvas because I wanted those solid blocks of color to dominate and push out into the space rather than have matting around the image soften the impact and put distance between the viewer and the painting.  I think this was the right decision based on the very enthusiastic response to the work.

2015 PG Show GC Myers-The Next Generation

The Next Generation

Of course, the best part of the evening is seeing friends, old and new, and catching up a bit.  The theme this year seemed to be the next generation, with a number of new additions to families making their first visits to an opening.  I love hearing how small children respond to the colors and forms in the paintings. Plus I like the idea that these paintings will in some small way be a part of the environment that influences their lives in the years to come.  Hopefully, they will prove to be positive influences.

Thank you to everyone who came out on Friday evening.  Some traveled some distance and for that I cannot be more appreciative.  It is that sort of enthusiasm that inspires me and makes my job so much easier.

And of course, very warm thanks to Michele, Clint, Jessica and Pamela at the Principle Gallery for  both your tremendous professionalism and your friendship.  Both equally mean the world to Cheri and me.

So, as I settle back into my treasured routine on a Sunday morning, it is once again that time when I play a little music here on the blog.  Today I am in the mood for something mellow and nothing is better at that than the voice of the great and ever elegant Nat King Cole.  Here is his beautiful version of Hoagy Carmichael‘s classic Stardust.

Thanks once more and have a good Sunday…

 

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Peanuts Gang from A Charlie Brown Christmas - Chas SchulzI’ve been taking a few days off here around Thanksgiving, taking it a bit easier in the days that kick off the first days of the Christmas season here.  I can’t say I’m as big a fan of the holidays as when I was child but I still feel that same warm fuzziness when certain songs of the season come on the radio.  Nat King Cole singing The Christmas Song or Bing Crosby’s White Christmas, for example.  One of my all-time favorites are the wondeful compositions from  Vince Guaraldi for  A Charlie Brown Christmas.  Hearing the relaxing tones of Christmas Time Is Here with the children’s chorus is like zen candy to me–it just pushes away all the bad things we,ve come to accept as part of the season and fills the void with a peaceful calm.

I thought I’d share Diana Krall‘s take on this great piece.  It lacks the children’s voices but it is lovely nonetheless and a good way to head back into my work.

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A friend posted one of my favorite songs online a few weeks back, the Nat King Cole version of  Irving Berlin‘s classic What’ll I Do.  As with just about anything Nat King Cole performed,  it’s a great rendition of the song.  I have heard numerous versions of this song  as it has been recorded by hundreds of artists since Berlin wrote it in 1923 and, for the most part, they’re all wonderful- a tribute to Berlin’s skill as a songwriter.  But I wanted to hear one that I hadn’t come across yet .

I found a version from the  great  Chet Baker, the late Jazz musician who  I mentioned briefly in a post earlier this year.  I find him a fascinating subject.  His story is tragic and the images of  his physical change through the years from the ravages of drugs and violence are heartbreaking.  As a young lion of the jazz scene, he was truly the Golden Boy, strikingly handsome and hugely talented, and you can see life beat him down in the photos over time.  There’s a worn down sadness in his being that makes a perfect match for the melancholy tones of a song like this.

Give a listen on a slow and quiet Saturday morning…

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Yesterday, as I was working in the studio, I caught the last few minutes of the film, Tin Men, Barry Levinson’s atmospheric comedy about aluminum siding salesmen in early 1960’s Baltimore.  It’s a great film that I’ve seen dozens of times.  It never fails to make me laugh with Levinson’s always engaging dialogue and great use of deep detail throughout the film that give it rich texture and a real sense of place.

He also makes great use of the background music that adds another layer of texture to the overall feel of the film.  One of my favorites is his use of Nat King Cole’s version of the classic Sweet Lorraine.  It ‘s easy rhythm and pace makes me feel as though I were in Baltimore in the heat of a carefree summer in 1963.

Here’s Nat King Cole with Sweet Lorraine.  It’s always been a favorite of mine and I hope your day goes as smooth and easy as this song…

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