Saturday, August 01, 2009

Nature Boy: eden ahbez...

I've always loved the Nat King Cole song Nature Boy, but never would have imagined its peculiar origins. Or rather, these are the strange origins one might have imagined, with the expected reality being far less interesting. Sometimes these things get reversed.

The song was penned by a bearded man living under the Hollywood sign in 1947. Not a "hobo" but rather the original hippie. eden ahbez (lowercase his choice) arrived in Los Angeles in 1941 and began playing piano at the Eutropheon, a small health food store and raw food restaurant on Laurel Canyon Blvd. The cafe was owned by John and Vera Richter, German immigrants who followed a "naturmensch" and "lebensreform" philosophy, influenced by the Wandervogel movement in Germany. Their followers, known as "Nature Boys," wore long hair and beards, and ate only raw fruits and vegetables.

Once, when Ahbez was being hassled by a cop who assumed from his wild appearance that he deserved to be hauled off to a mental institution, he remarked calmly, "I look crazy, but I'm not. And the funny thing is, that other people don't look crazy, but they are." The cop thought it over and responded, "You know bud, you're right. If anybody gives you any trouble, let me know."

Here's a track, The Wanderer, from ahbez' 1960 album, Eden's Island (wonder if this is where Gilligan got his start - and font?).

(Thanks KXLU for the edification.)


Blogger pigatschmo said...

Good find!

9:25 PM  

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