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Donovan

Upon his emergence during the mid-'60s, Donovan was anointed "Britain's answer to Bob Dylan," a facile but largely unfounded comparison which compromised the Scottish folk-pop troubadour's own unique vision. Where the thrust of Dylan's music remains its bleak introspection and bitter realism, Donovan fully embraced the wide-eyed optimism of the flower power movement, his ethereal, ornate songs radiating a mystical beauty and childlike wonder; for better or worse, his recordings remain quintessential artifacts of the psychedelic era, capturing the peace and love idealism of their time to perfection. Donovan Leitch was born May 10, 1946 in Glasgow and raised outside of London; at 18 he recorded his first demo, and in 1965 was tapped as a regular on the television pop showcase Ready, Steady, Go! He soon issued his debut single "Catch the Wind," earning the first round of Dylan comparisons with his ramshackle folk sound and ragamuffin look; the single nevertheless reached the U.K. Top Five, with a subsequent meeting between the two singer/songwriters captured in the classic D.A. Pennebaker documentary Don't Look Back.

Donovan's follow-up single, "Colours," was also a hit, and after making his American debut at the 1965 Newport Folk Festival, he issued Fairytale, his second and last LP for the Hickory label. Signing with Epic in 1966, he released his breakthrough album, Sunshine Superman, which in its exotic arrangements and pointedly psychedelic lyrical outlook heralded a major shift from his previous work; the title track topped the charts on both sides of the Atlantic, with the enigmatic "Mellow Yellow" reaching the number two spot a few months later. Donovan remained a chart fixture throughout 1967, generating a series of hits including "Epistle to Dippy," "There Is a Mountain," and "Wear Your Love Like Heaven"; that year he traveled to India alongside the Beatles to study with the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, a journey which inspired him to renounce drug use and encourage his listeners to turn to meditation. The ambitious double album A Gift from a Flower to a Garden followed, and in 1968 Donovan resurfaced with The Hurdy Gurdy Man, scoring a Top Five smash with the hallucinatory title cut; the record also yielded the hit "Jennifer Juniper."

Barabajagal from 1969 generated Donovan's final Top 40 hit, "Atlantis"; for the title track, he collaborated with the Jeff Beck Group, with whom he also worked on 1970s Open Road. He then retreated to Ireland, emerging from a period of seclusion by starring in and scoring the 1972 film The Pied Piper; a pair of new LPs, Cosmic Wheels and Essence to Essence, appeared the following year to disappointing reviews and little commercial interest. Following 1974's 7-Tease, he spent the next years living quietly in California's Joshua Tree desert, mounting only a small club tour to promote 1976's Slow Down; a self-titled LP appeared a year later, and in the wake of 1983's Jerry Wexler-produced Lady of the Stars, he essentially retired from writing and recording altogether. The Donovan revival began in earnest in 1991 when Happy Mondays titled a song in his honor for their groundbreaking Pills 'n' Thrills & Bellyaches; he later toured with the group as well. Five years later, Donovan released his comeback LP, Sutras, helmed by producer du jour Rick Rubin. (The album had the misfortune to be released after Rubin's landmark Johnny Cash record, American Recordings and was virtually ignored or misunderstood by critics.) Donovan toured briefly to support Sutras and then went missing once again, playing out only sporadically. In 2004, however, he reappeared with the intimate and stylish Beat Cafe, a collection of nearly all-original songs produced by keyboardist John Chelew. Donovan also enlisted bassist Danny Thompson and drummer Jim Keltner to round out his quartet. The album featured a pair of covers, a spoken word rendition of poet Dylan Thomas' "Do Not Go Gentle," and a startling rendition of the traditional tune "The Cuckoo." ~ Jason Ankeny
full bio

Selected Discography

x

Track List: Try For The Sun: The Journey Of Donovan

Disc 1

2. Josie

4. Colours

5. Universal Soldier

6. Sunny Goodge Street

7. Hey Gyp (Dig the Slowness)

10. Legend Of A Girl Child Linda

11. Three King Fishers

12. Season Of The Witch

13. Guinevere

14. Fat Angel

15. Mellow Yellow

16. Sand And Foam

17. Young Girl Blues

18. Museum

19. Hampstead Incident

20. Sunny South Kensington

Disc 2

1. Epistle To Dippy

2. Preachin' Love

3. There Is A Mountain

4. Wear Your Love Like Heaven

5. Oh Gosh

6. Isle Of Islay

11. Jennifer Juniper

13. Hurdy Gurdy Man

14. Get Thy Bearings

15. Lalena

16. Barabajagal (Love Is Hot)

17. Lord Of The Reedy River

19. To Susan On The West Coast Waiting

20. Atlantis

Disc 3

1. Celia Of The Seals

2. The Song Of The Wandering Aengus

6. Riki Tiki Tavi

7. Clara Clairvoyant

8. Young But Growing (Live)

11. I Like You

12. Maria Magenta

15. Sailing Homeward

16. Your Broken Heart

17. Dark-Eyed Blue Jean Angel

18. Please Don't Bend

19. Love Floats

20. Happiness Runs

Disc 4
x

Track List: Beat Cafe

1. Love Floats

2. Poorman's Sunshine

3. Beat Cafe

4. Yin My Yang

5. Whirlwind

6. Two Lovers

7. The Question

8. Lord Of The Universe

9. Lover O Lover

10. The Cuckoo

11. Do Not Go Gentle

12. Shambhala

x

Track List: Summer Day Reflection Songs

Disc 1

1. Catch The Wind

2. Why Do You Treat Me Like You Do

3. Josie

4. Catch The Wind

5. Remember The Alamo

6. Cuttin' Out

7. Car Car (Riding In My Car)

8. Keep On Truckin'

9. Goldwatch Blues

10. To Sing For You

11. You're Gonna Need Somebody On Your Bond

12. Tangerine Puppet

13. Donna Donna

14. Ramblin' Boy

15. Every Man Has His Chain

16. Colours (Original Single Version)

Disc 2

1. Universal Soldier

2. The Ballad Of A Crystal Man

3. The War Drags On

4. Do You Hear Me Now

5. Colours

6. To Try For The Sun

7. Sunny Goodge Street

8. Oh Deed I Do

9. Circus Of Sour

10. Summer Day Reflection Song

11. Candy Man

12. Jersey Thursday

13. Belated Forgiveness Plea

15. The Little Tin Soldier

16. Ballad Of Geraldine

17. Turquoise

18. Hey Gyp (Dig The Slowness)

x

Track List: Essence To Essence

1. Operating Manual For Spaceship Earth

2. Lazy Daze

3. Life Goes On

4. There Is An Ocean

5. Dignity Of Man

6. Yellow Star

7. Divine Daze Of Deathless Delight

8. Boy For Every Girl

9. Saint Valentine's Angel

10. Life Is A Merry-Go-Round

11. Sailing Homeward

x

Track List: HMS Donovan

1. The Walrus And The Carpenter

2. Jabberwocky

3. The Seller Of Stars

4. Lost Time

5. The Little White Road

6. The Star

7. Coulter's Candy

8. The Road

9. Things To Wear

10. The Owl And The Pussycat

11. Homesickness

12. Fishes In Love

13. Mr. Wind

14. Wynken Blynken And Nod

15. Celia Of The Seals

16. The Pee Song

17. The Voyage Of The Moon

18. The Unicorn

19. Lord Of The Dance

20. Little Ben

21. Can Ye Dance

22. In An Old-Fashioned Picture Book

23. The Song Of Wandering Aengus

24. A Funny Man

25. Lord Of The Reedy River (HMS Donovan Version)

26. Henry Martin

27. Queen Mab

28. La Moora

x

Track List: Open Road

1. Changes

2. Song For John

3. Curry Land

4. Joe Bean's Theme

5. People Used To

6. Celtic Rock

7. Riki Tiki Tavi

8. Clara Clairvoyant

9. Roots Of Oak

10. Season Of Farewell

11. Poke At The Pope

12. New Year's Resolution

x

Track List: Barabajagal

1. Barabajagal

2. Superlungs My Supergirl

3. Where Is She

4. Happiness Runs

5. I Love My Shirt

6. The Love Song

7. To Susan On The West Coast Waiting

8. Atlantis

9. Trudi

10. Pamela Jo

11. Stromberg Twins

12. Snakeskin

13. Lauretta's Cousin Laurinda

14. The Swan (Lord Of The Reedy River)

15. A Poor Man's Sunshine (Nativity)

16. New Years Resolution (Donovan's Celtic Jam)

17. Runaway (Demo)

18. Sweet Beverley (Demo)

19. Marjorie (Margarine) (Demo)

20. Little White Flower (Demo)

21. Good Morning Mr Wind (Demo)

22. Palais Girl (Demo)

23. Lord Of The Universe (Demo)

x

Track List: Greatest Hits

1. Mellow Yellow

2. Colours

3. Hurdy Gurdy Man

4. Catch The Wind

5. Lalena

6. Epistle To Dippy

7. Sunshine Superman

8. There Is A Mountain

9. Jennifer Juniper

10. Wear Your Love Like Heaven

11. Season Of The Witch

12. Atlantis

13. To Susan On The West Coast Waiting

14. Barabajagal

15. Riki Tiki Tavi

x

Track List: Hurdy Gurdy Man

1. Hurdy Gurdy Man

2. Peregrine

3. The Entertaining Of A Shy Girl

4. As I Recall It

5. Get Thy Bearings

6. Hi It's Been A Long Time

7. West Indian Lady

8. Jennifer Juniper

9. The River Song

10. Tangier

11. A Sunny Day

12. The Sun Is A Very Magic Fellow

13. Teas

14. Teen Angel

15. Poor Cow

16. Lalena

17. Aye My Love

18. What A Beautiful Creature You Are

19. Colours

20. Catch The Wind

x

Track List: A Gift From A Flower To A Garden

1. Wear Your Love Like Heaven

2. Mad John's Escape

3. Skip-A-Long Sam

4. Sun

5. There Was A Time

6. Oh Gosh

7. Little Boy In Corduroy

8. Under The Greenwood Tree

9. The Land Of Doesn't Have To Be

10. Someone's Singing

11. Song Of The Naturalist's Wife

12. The Enchanted Gypsy

13. Voyage Into The Golden Screen

14. Isle Of Islay

15. The Mandolin Man And His Secret

16. Lay Of The Last Tinker

17. The Tinker And The Crab

18. Widow With Shawl (A Portrait)

19. The Lullaby Of Spring

20. The Magpie

21. Starfish-On-The-Toast

22. Epistle To Derroll

x

Track List: Mellow Yellow

1. Mellow Yellow

2. Writer In The Sun

3. Sand And Foam

4. The Observation

5. Bleak City Woman

6. House Of Jansch

7. Young Girl Blues

8. Museum

9. Hampstead Incident

10. Sunny South Kensington

11. Epistle To Dippy

12. Preachin' Love

13. Good Time

14. There Is A Mountain

15. Superlungs (Second Version)

x

Track List: Sunshine Superman

1. Sunshine Superman

2. Legend Of A Girl Child Linda

3. Three Kingfishers

4. Ferris Wheel

5. Bert's Blues

6. Season Of The Witch

7. The Trip

8. Guinevere

9. The Fat Angel

10. Celeste

11. Breezes Of Patchulie

12. Museum (First Version)

13. Superlungs (First Version)

14. The Land Of Doesn't Have To Be

x

Track List: Cosmic Wheels

1. Cosmic Wheels

2. Earth Sign Man

3. Sleep

4. Maria Magenta

5. Wild Witch Lady

6. The Music Maker

7. The Intergalactic Laxative

8. I Like You

9. Only The Blues

10. Appearances

Comments

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I can only imagine being under the influence of LSD and listening to Donovan.
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Leave this station
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SUNSHINE SUPERMAN BY DONOVAN
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'Jersey Thursday' has the potential to be a great song, but a little sad that Donovan could only be bothered to write one verse (and not even a bridge). He must have been pressed for time that day!
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How is it possible for just a handful of people to do mini-history ' s that miss so many details (sometimes wrong, oops) but don't acknowledge real fans input? Granted it's not an easy task for proper research, but wiki has MANY faults also!
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First, there is a mountain, then there is no mountain, then there is. Hail Atlantis!
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brother sun, sister moon?
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Yellow is the Color of My True Love's Hair is a work of genius. Ninety percent of the lyrics is banal crap and then, out of the blue, it ends, 'Freedom is a word I rarely use, without thinking, of the time, of the time, when I've been loved.' Brilliant juxtapositio n - - f o r that alone I love Donovan. He always had that capacity to surprise you with the turn of the phrase. More recently, I'm struck by, There are too many words, there are too many turds.
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bd.wilcox
I want to hear Wear Your Love Like Heaven.
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I really hate the reviews that start out with a false description and then negate it. That's just poor writing. Say what the band is, not what the band isn't. It's infuriating to read an artist description and have to click more in order to actually read a real fact about them.
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Liked his approach as a kid but he was so sporadic in releasing music throughout his career that I never really thought of him as a serious artist. Still, I have good memories of his flower power message.
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michael_corp e
Shawn Phillips had a large hand in a lot of what Donovan did in this time frame, but was given little or no credit.
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donovan also had a album in the mid 70s called musicmaker ever
heard of it?
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Donovan will always be that unique artist that really knew how to make a song stay in your soul. I think he is closer to Cat Stevens than Dylan though
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Each time I start thinking of myself as an adult, I hurry up and listen to Donovan. For whatever reason, he keeps the child in me. Love you, Donovan!!
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Donavan: He has that unique quality in his voice. I always listen for that in my FAVORITE Artists. I hope to hear more of him on this station.
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How many hippies tried to smoke banana peels after listening to mellow yellow lol
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Yea!
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DONOVAN: I LIKE Donovan, Play more of his music. Please?
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It is the season of the witch
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There Is A Mountain and Mellow Yellow and others are so good.
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AND - as it says, he never asked to be compared to Dylan. They are polar opposites and different genres in terms of poetry. Donovan wrote the soundtrack for the Zefirelli film Brother Son, Sister Moon - really good! I wish he'd done more film music.
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One of my favorite songs that I used to sing to my babies was Donovan's Happiness Runs in a Circular Motion or whatever it was called. It has remained a real touchstone in all our lives, he has a gentleness and humor that kids really respond to!
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correction even
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nothing wrong with this song eben if I love BOB ��
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Don't care what anyone thinks I still like Donovan
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mike3345mike
great place to live ... doesn't Bev Dolittle live near you?
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Still love listening to Donovan
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..I love his muusic a lot his use of unusual instruments. I thaûght he was in. The first movie called the man who survived the collapse of social order it tok place in starlit he played a cop who was trying to keep order in a world in decline . He was holding it together retted null his iewarpe Miley ruhlssmtocyl e g a g n e .
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Cool guy.
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Yellow is the colour of my true loves hair.
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Too much folk Donovan on Pandora, not enough psychedelia, and later jazz-inflect e d stuff. And where's Rikki-Tikki- T a v i ?
In response to Jacob Madison--Dyl a n ' s lyrics may be genius but nursery rhymes tend to last longer...tha t ' s why people know and can recite 'Humpty Dumpty' today, and not the poetry of John Dryden. I have a feeling that Mellow Yellow (and, to digress, Yellow Submarine) will still be known long after Subterranean Homesick Blues and Tangled Up in Blue are forgotten.
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Sand and Foam was the best song to be stoned when listening over and over .
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The Song Catch The Wind is simply beautiful!
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Please dont compare with dylan. Dylan's lyrics are genius. Donovan more like nursery rhymes
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Have always been waiting for Stewie on Family Guy to give Kwite rrritely a try.
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When they play Hurdy Gurdy Man at the end of Zodiac, it really has a creepy feel to it that wasn't there for me before.
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david.gray6
I got you babe.
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Donovan,Pete r and the Lads, Yard fn Birds,Rod the Mod,Anmials, Z e p ,
Kim Wild, Hot Coca, Johnny Hates Jazz WTF? Dont get me started.
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My Uncle Mickey was the Sh!ZZle
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One difference between Donovan and Dylan was that Donovan could write a hook. (Not to mention carry a tune.)
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Mickie Most was a genius.
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They call me Mellow Yellow......
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I love Donovan and seals, but Celia of the Seals really needs to be retired; maybe taken behind a curtain and put down, for the good of all seals and listeners..
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Blue is the color of the sky when we rise? How creative. Meh, it's kinda catchy when it's all said and done. this song should be in the next coke commercial.
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To nonickyet only cosmic wheel I've seen is my dad's vinyl record. Still has it lives in 2000 miles away from me.... Lol love that album though.
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melinda.odon n e l l 5
Qwhite right..
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What?!? Who decided on the picture for the cover for Donovan's "Greatest Hits" albumn?? He looks like a retarded man busted for taking a doody in his overalls. Donovan you needed better PR, bud. Whoever was in charge should've been fired for making no effort to sell you as anything other than the poor mans Dylan. You're better than that: you take your doodies in style. Mellow yellow dooky, tootsie pop rolls, 3-foot long logs that snake out of the bowl.
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Does anyone heard of Donovan's Cosmic Wheel I can't find it anywhere. Thanks for the help.
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joe.n.richar d
Donovan still sounds really good....
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