Nature Boy


This old chestnut comes around yet again. Every few years, ever since 1948, this song hits the Zeitgeist. And I’ve always found it ridiculous. It’s not just corny in the typical 40’s fashion; it’s downright campy. There’s no way a song about a boy ‘strange and enchanted’ isn’t loaded with innuendo. It has to be the gayest American Standard in the great book of American Standards. Witness the smirk with which Nat King Cole delivered it. He knew! Despite or because of its nature, Nature Boy has been revived again and again, by everyone from Sinatra (who, I think, made a point of singing ALL THE SONGS) to Sarah Vaughn to Grace Slick to Celine Dion, just to mention the most notable of notables. In my day, the song came to pop culture prominence via the Moulin Rouge! soundtrack, delivered by no less than David Bowie, with a degree of conviction that may have been more than the thing deserved. On last year’s Cheek to Cheek, Tony Bennett and Lady Gaga jumped in, with surprisingly straight faces. Gaga, gaycon aspirations aside, can be a  very earnest lady, and that record was her chance to put on her ‘serious artist’ hat, so it’s reasonable that she delivered it without a sideways wink. But what a missed opportunity! If anybody can camp the hell out of an old classic, it’s her. Here’s hoping that sometime down the road she merges her radio monster flamboyance with her serious chanteuse classy side and delivers some serious remixes of this and other standards.

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