Crate Digger Confidential: BOBBY DARIN Nature Boy
What more is there to say about Bobby Darin. In a way he was probably the most talented singer of his generation, shifting chameleon-like through the genres and I mean ALL the genres. Teen Rockers, Big swing songs, Mod groovers, Jazz, Country, and even towards the end of his too-short career Dylanesque singer-songwriter fare. He was brilliant at all of them. Alas as we all know Bobby’s star burned brightly for a way too short time and he was dead by the tender age of 37.
I’m a big Bobby fan. I own a lot of his records, including all the big hits as well as his two big DJ faves, Similau and Minnie the Moocher (which contains the immortal lines ‘Minnie and Smokey they started shaggin’ and got a free ride in the wagon’, a line that has very different connotations today). However, it’s this little cover of a very oft-covered tune I am gonna wax lyrical about today.
Nature Boy was a tune that first appeared in the 1948 film ‘The Boy With Green Hair’ an anti-war film based upon the reaction the American public would have to the seeming ‘otherness’ of a war orphan whose hair had turned green. It starred the brilliant and recently departed Dean Stockwell in a very early role. (RIP Dean). Written by the proto hippie eden abhez (well worth looking into himself) it was first a hit for Nat King Cole but you can take your pick of versions out there because there are quite literally hundreds of them. However, out of all of them, this one floats my boat the most.
I am not sure whether it is the cod exotica orchestra, complete with Neptune-like trumpet fanfares, or the wood nymph backing vocals I like the best or just the way Bobby croons effortlessly through the melody (it’s not easy to sing). It actually sounds as if it was recorded in a woodland glade, with Disney-style animals nibbling on green shoots at his feet as he tells them ‘There was a boy… a very strange enchanted boy….’ and they cock their ears to listen and nod their heads appreciatively. I’ve seen this happen with an audience also. I play this out slowed down just slightly at -4 to increase that sense of otherworldliness. Perfect at Popcorn nights and a complete anathema to the 4 to the floor needed for the Northern soul crowd.
So there it is, proof that Mr. Darin could turn his hand to any type of tune and make it spectacular. Viva Bobby forever!
BOBBY DARIN Nature Boy
Bobby Darin photo: General Artists Corporation (management)/photographer: “Bruno of Hollywood” aka Bruno Bernard, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons // Vinyl photo via Discogs.
Nature Boy, written by Eden Ahbez
Published By – Crestview Music Corp.
Published By – Pub. Adaris
Mastered At – Atlantic Studios
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