I don’t know what came over me, but I just got in the mood to listen to Donovan, and with urgency. Funny how sometimes months or longer can go by without a thought taking traction, and then one day listening to a certain artist feels almost like a mission.
I grew up in the Donovan era, although the “British Bob Dylan” comments never resonated with me at the time. Bob Dylan was wordy and symbolic; his songs were poetic to the degree that his voice didn’t detract from the impact the songs made. He was making some singles but this was an album artist from day one, no matter the marketing scheme or the culture at the time.
Donovan, on the other hand, struck me as a psychedelic hippie, the imagery in his songs more of a visual trip than a social challenge. Of course, in retrospect, he was preaching communication and peace and love, but maybe it didn’t seem as important because that’s what the whole generation was focused upon every single day. His voice was pretty, his tunes had sing along choruses, and it was all about the singles for me.
Donovan maintained his career for decades, just like Dylan did, but where the latter became a global icon and mystic figure, Donovan pretty much slipped off my radar. When I pulled out the greatest hits album I started surfing around to see what else was available and was pleasantly surprised by the variety of live shows and the expanded collections of songs. And as one hit after another spun off that first album, I couldn’t help wondering how I forgot how prolific he was.
Here are Ten Definitive Donovans so we can enjoy his legacy together.
(01) Mellow Yellow – Ringo brushwork and great horns
(02) Catch The Wind – maybe my favorite, a beautiful song.
(03) Colors – guitar and harmonica, sure – but not Dylanesque
(04) Season Of The Witch – Stills, Kooper and Bloomfield knew it was cool.
(05) Hurdy Gurdy Man – live version has unreleased Harrison verse.
(06) Atlantis – a hit despite burying the hook at the end of a long intro.
(07) Jennifer Juniper – always attracted to alliteration…
(08) Wear Your Love Like Heaven – a shampoo commercial can’t ruin it.
(09) The Universal Soldier – pretty prescient.
(10) Sunshine Superman – I know a beach where baby, it never ends.