Released on: This Is My Truth Tell Me Yours (Album #5) Epic Records, 14 September 1998
The run of wonderful and criminally underrated album tracks on This Is My Truth continues with ‘Be Natural’, a frankly phenomenal recording which is very possibly the most accomplished on the whole record. The story of the song is quite unique in the sense that arguably, no Manics song has fallen so far in the band’s estimations. During the recording sessions for the album, ‘Be Natural’ was considered the single most promising song that been written; it was very much tipped as a potential lead single. After this failed to come to pass and the album was released, the band never played it live and have been fairly dismissive of it.
To describe this turn of events as an injustice would be a gross understatement. Despite its relatively ordinary instrumental set-up (the standard, plus 12 string guitar and melody horn from Bradfield, Hammond organ from Nasmyth and additional percussion from Andy Duncan) the song achieves a uniquely dynamic atmosphere that matches the intriguing lyrical theme. The lyrics have Bradfield sing of wanting to both “be natural” and have others “be natural” to him, even if that means leaving him alone or responding to him with physical violence. It’s a complicated idea that comes off like a cry for help of sorts, but the music matches it beat for (literal) beat as Moore’s excellent drumming performance aids the frequent build-ups.
Despite its reputation as something of a “toy” instrument, Bradfield’s contribution on the melody horn is actually really significant, and reinforces the centrality of slightly unusual instruments to This Is My Truth (see also omnichord, wurlitzer, and sitar). The whole effect of the song is also aided by the tremendous sense of space in the mix, which at times almost matches the similarly sublime [T108] ‘I’m Not Working’.
A combination of more great lyrics, a superbly dynamic arrangement and excellent performances, ‘Be Natural’ is nothing short of a tour de force which absolutely continues the magnificent run of songs on Truth‘s second half. It’s also nothing short of a tragedy that such an amazing song has languished since release in that familiar Manics hell of having little fan following, no real respect from its own creators, or any live plays. It deserves better, but that takes nothing – perhaps even adds something – to the wondrous experience that is actually listening to the thing.
Choice Lyric (Full Lyrics)
“be natural / come on and hit me again”