Mother Nature's Son - Reviews

Quoted from Recording Sessions: p.147

Friday 9 August. Studio Two: 7.30pm - 2.00am. Recording: 'Not Guilty'; 'Mother Nature's Son' (takes 1-25).

This session was due to finish at 10.00pm and it was around that time that work on 'Not Guilty' was completed for the night. But after the other Beatles had gone home, Paul stayed behind to record a fine new acoustic ballad, 'Mother Nature's Son'. Although it was later to receive a brass overdub, the song was to feature no other Beatles, the same as Blackbird, already taped, and one other to follow.

'Mother Nature's Son' barely altered from the very first take, and it was just a matter of time, Paul running through the song with live acoustic guitar and vocal, until he hit upon the 'best' take. This was 24, although he did go one beyond - to 25 - just for good measure. The only difference between the earliest takes and the 'best' was that the guitar intro piece was originally twice the length. The song would be completed on August 20.

Making his debut on this night as a technical engineer on a Beatles session was Richard Hale, and he recalls one of his responsibilities. "I had to look after the headphone amplifier. John Lennon only had one 'can', a single earpiece, which was a specific request that he had made. He'd use it for vocal overdubs and somebody always had to give him this thing at the start of a session. It had a green Dymo label saying LENNON stuck on it!"

Tuesday 20 August. Studio Three: 5.00 - 5.30pm. Recording: 'Yer Blues' (edit piece take 1). Editing: 'Yer Blues'. Mono tape copying: 'Revolution 9'. Studio Two: 8.00pm - 4.00am. Recording: 'Mother Nature's Son' (SI onto take 24; tape reduction take 24 into take 26, SI onto take 26); 'Etcetera' (take 1); 'Wild Honey Pie' (take 1). Mono mixing: 'Mother Nature's Son' (remixes 1-8, from take 26); 'Wild Honey Pie' (remixes 1-6, from take 1).

The first task of Paul's evening solo session was to complete 'Mother Nature's Son'. Alan Brown was technical engineer on the session and he has a vivid recollection of its events. "It was quite late at night, the whole building was quiet, and there was Paul playing this enchanting song. I love the phrase "sitting in my field of grass". It has a completeness about it. It isn't just any old field, it's a field of grass. We were all moved by it. Simultaneous to this recording session, Russia was invading Czechoslovakia. Of course we didn't know it at that moment but it did seem such a contrast of events...

"Paul wanted an open effect on his drums [to give a bongos sound] and we ended up leaving the studio itself and putting the drums in the corridor, halfway down, with mikes at the far end. It wasn't carpeted then and it gave an interesting staccato effect." (As a matter of interest, although he cannot recall which song was involved, Ken Scott has a recollection of Paul making a similar request during another session for The Beatles. "Right at the back of the building there's a staircase that goes from the basement up to the top floor," he says. "Paul suggested we use that as a natural echo chamber, with a speaker at the bottom and a microphone about half-way up, for the bass drum sound.")

'Mother Nature's Son' also received overdubs of timpani, a second acoustic guitar track and brass instruments during this session. As a stiff reminder that all was not entirely well within the Beatles' ranks, Ken Scott recalls, "Paul was downstairs going through the arrangement with George [Martin] 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 ten minutes and then as soon as they left it felt great again. It was very bizarre."

Posted: 11 mrt 2012

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