Donovan


Donovan was a folk rock musician who started his music life in 1963 just outside of Hertford in Little Berkhamsted, England. Donovan scored many hits in the sixties and seventies with the bulk of his achievements happening between 1967 and 1969. His gentle sound was the perfect backdrop for the hippy movement and unfortunately for him he was eternally tied with it. Around 1980 when the hippies started getting jobs and buying cars he fell out of grace. After listening to his music for a few years now I gotta agree, it is indeed hippy music but if you look beyond the lovey songs laden with gentle analogies of smoking weed and doing LSD there are some catchy tunes to be found. The negative hippy stigma aside sometimes what makes music special is it’s identification with a period in time. Like if I’m listening to classical music I at times it can be fun to imagine the lives of the people it was written for, stuffy royalty, hard nosed noblemen, I don’t really identify with those people but I can hear what they found special in the music. Donovan is the same. I’m not much for hippies nor do I have a unrealistic view of enacting world peace through song but dang if I don’t mind hearing someone sing about it.

Early on Donovan was quickly written off by critics as a mere copy artist, he was constantly being unfairly compared to Bob Dylan. While Donovan’s music may have some similarities to that of Dylan’s the line of demarcation is clear. At least a partial indication of Donovan’s authenticity could have been who his friends were, it’s the list of a who’s who of the major acts from that time, The Beatles, Led Zeppelin, Jimmi Hendrix, The Who, The Byrds, Cream, The Rolling Stones the list goes on and on. These were the guys that he hung out with, they wrote lyrics together and contributed to each others albums. In fact Paul McCartney of The Beatles has been quoted saying that Donovan taught him and John Lennon various finger picking guitar techniques. Imagine being a fly on the wall for those sessions? Donovan was the real deal.

With all of his achievements Donovan never really gained the success that his friends had. He had plenty of singles on the charts but never a chart topper. The sheer number of quality songs that came from his pen makes him worthy of the highest accolades but perhaps his entanglement in hippy culture was too much for him to overcome. His songs were really folk songs. I’d lump him in with Simon and Garfunkel, with that whole Folk-Rock revolution that happened around 1970. Donovan put out a good number of albums in the sixties and seventies all of which I will list below. In the course of all of those releases he managed to put out at least three children’s albums. I find that to be so odd, I can’t think of any major acts from that time that put out children’s albums while at the peak of their fame. I haven’t gotten into any of of his specific albums yet I have the anthology that Epic put together of Donovan’s tunes called Troubadour, I’d strongly recommend it as a starting point. I’d like to checkout “Sunshine Superman” and “The Hurdy Gurdy Man”.

1) Catch the Wind [1965]
2) Fairytale [1965]
3) Sunshine Superman [1966]
4) Mellow Yellow [1967]
5) A Gift from a Flower to a Garden [1967]
6) Wear Your Love Like Heaven [1967]
7) For Little Ones [1967]
8) Donovan in Concert [1968] *live
9) The Hurdy Gurdy Man [1968]
10) Barabajagal [1969]
11) Open Road [1970]
12) H.M.S. Donovan [1971]
13) Cosmic Wheels [1973]
14) Essence to Essence [1973]
15) 7-Tease [1974]
16) Slow Down World [1976]
17) Donovan [1977]
18) Sutras [1996]
19) Rising Again [2001] *live
20) Pied Piper [2002]
21) Sixty Four [2004]
22) Brother Sun, Sister Moon [2004]
23) Beat Cafe [2004]

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