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Reissue: Unfictional - Nature Boy

eden ahbez Photo courtesy of Joe Romersa

While you await new Lost Notes episodes, our producers are selecting favorite music segments from other podcasts as part of a 'Reissue' series.

Today's episode comes from KCRW's very own UnFictional, whose latest season launches today.

Perhaps you've heard the legend about the old Nat King Cole song, “Nature Boy.” One night in 1948, a strange-looking man in robes with long hair and beard, looking like a time traveler from 1968, waits at the stage door of a theater in Los Angeles. He has some sheet music for a song he's written that somehow gets to Nat “King” Cole, who is performing that night. Cole records the song and it ends up becoming a timeless standard.

But that's only one part of the unusual story of Nature Boy eden ahbez, a man so ahead of his time that he spent most of his life out of sync with the world. He was part of a small movement that lead to some of the main elements of what we now think of California "hippie" culture: natural foods, yoga, mediation and environmental conservation. This was decades before they became widely adopted. He became a national figure and wrote one of the most famous songs of the postwar period, all while living apart from modern society.
Reporter Eric Molinsky produced this audio portrait as three-part suite, three stories from three different periods from the life of eden ahbez, featuring ahbez's friend Joe Romersa, writer Bridan Chidester, and farmer/historian Gordon Kennedy.

First presented in January 2014 on KCRW's UnFictional. This episode was produced by Eric Molinsky and edited and mixed by Bob Carlson.