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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

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

Comments

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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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great place to live ... doesn't Bev Dolittle live near you?
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Still love listening to Donovan
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alabastervil l i s 0
oh i think you all should know by now whats coming. donovan is a digusting hippie an as with all hippies he is a eater of children and a rapist of all things clean and soap like. put me in a room with a hippie and only i will come out. All hippies are untalented wastes of air. dont play hippy songs on my death metal station
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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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nicko252008
Waaaaay better than dylan
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f,u. obama
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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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Japanese with a hooter, thats mellow yellow! Huh?How you doen !?
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Donovan continues to be my favorite of all time. Love this channel. So full of positive love, peace, beauty & inspiration. Not including Bob Dilan. Our whole family loves him.
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True Psychedelia ✌️
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suzan_philli p s
The Origional Hurti Gurti Man!!!!
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Listen to Dylan's Spanish Boots of Spanish Leather...th i s is an exact copy...
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Love this guy ! Hurdy Gurdy man rules , among others .
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bard.ninja09
The comparison to Dylan is not an apt one....Donov a n is WAY BETTER.
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Underrated!! ! !
I quote myself: Donovan's rise and fall paralleled that of the 1960s counter-cult u r e , and he will undoubtedly be forever associated with naive psychedelia. This is unfortunate because he was a consistently imaginative lyricist who pioneered novel sounds such as Caribbean forms long before such work became fashionable. His popular music career may have fit the typical rock star paradigm, but the best of his work remains sui generis.
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Sunshine superman��
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@ JUSTIN MICHAEL HARRIS, WHAT TIME YOU GETTIN UP TOMORROW, LOL
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I love this song though
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oOps didn't mean to paste that
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officialunit e d s t a t e s :
i’m that friend that has to swim through the mud when the path isn’t big enough. i’m that friend that gets left behind enemy lines when i asked for them to wait for me. i’m that friend that doesn’t get invited to my own birthday party. i’m that friend that if i want to go to the army recruitment center or the hoover dam with a friend i have to be the one to invite people to make sure i get included. i’ll always be that friend.
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this track is Dylan...not donovan!!!
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I'm glad that he was finally inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame last year. Although that museum makes a lot of questionable induction choices, Donovan's was well-deserve d .
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Did Donovan do once you've made your mind up your going to be mine?
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Poetic and Musical Genius
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