Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Lou Rawls: A Natural Man (1971)



Lou Rawls [1933–2006] sings “A Natural Man,” a 1971 song written by Bobby Hebb and Sandy Baron, is the title track of the self-named album. This might resonate with some folks today. Some folks want to fit in; others try it but can’t do it. They want to be free and retain a sense of their self, their personality. This is not about anarchism or nihilism or some other destructive and foolish political theory that leads to nowhere, It’s about being free to be yourself without interfering in the lives of others; and wishing that others do not interfere in your life. The second part is as important as the first part. This might be too much for some folks, making no effort to impress, making no effort to impose.

The “Natural Man” stands in opposition to the dehumanization of modern and industrial society, and to the excesses of digital society, which measures without meaning or understanding. To be natural is to be unadulterated, without pretense and to be sincere and genuine. It is the opposite of fear, which often leads to measures that are humanly debilitating and degrading in its many forms and variations. Rawls, who was born in Chicago in 1933, died of lung cancer in Los Angeles in 2006; he was 72.