Friday, 10 May 2013

Donovan Day

Today is the 67th birthday of that titan of troubadours Donovan. Singer-songwriter, poet, mystic, visionary, man of letters, musical and psychedelic pioneer, Donovan was the most influential figure of his time, entirely changing the course of music history. Without him, the Beatles would have been just another beat band, California's Summer of Love would never have happened, jazz, psychedelia and world music would probably not exist, and no one would ever have heard of Jeff Beck or Bob Dylan.
You might recall the 1965 meeting between Dylan and Donovan captured in D.A. Pennebaker's film Don't Look Back. The director later recalled that
'Of course, when Donovan met him he was very excited and decided to play something for him. Dylan said he liked Catch The Wind, but Donovan said, I've written a new song I wanna play for you. So he played a song called My Darling Tangerine Eyes. And it was to the tune of Mr Tambourine Man! And Dylan was sitting there with this funny look on his face, listening to Mr Tambourine Man with these really weird words, trying to keep a straight face. Then Dylan says, Well, you know, that tune ... I have to admit that I haven't written all the tunes I'm credited with but that happens to be one that I did write! I'm sure Donovan never played the song again.'
Back in the Sixties, music fandom was intensely tribal, especially in the school playground but often in the music press as well - Cliff v Elvis, Beatles v Stones (even, briefly, Beatles v Dave Clark Five), and of course Dylan v Donovan, which now looks rather like Beatles v Dave Clark Five. But let's be fair, Donovan - at least in the years when he was managed by Mickie Most - did produce a string of agreeable, even classic, singles. These, and indeed his early albums, were part of the soundtrack of my misspent youth, though A Gift from a Flower to a Garden finished it for me (Dear Flower - Thanks but No Thanks). But then there was the strangely wonderful 'children's album' HMS Donovan, which I remember (with a blush) being played worryingly often in my rooms at university...
Oh dammit, Happy birthday Donovan!

18 comments:

  1. As well as the Beatles, don't forget that he invented the toaster and sex.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Lord - how could I have forgotten that?! I believe he invented them both on the same afternoon, and thereby hangs a tale...
    So easy to underestimate his many achievements I find.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Joey Joe Joe Jr.10 May 2013 at 16:13

    Brilliant stuff Nige, although I'm going to struggle to listen to Tambourine Man in the future without singing the words 'my darling tangerine eyes' instead. I can only hope that out there, somewhere, a record exists of the rest of the lyrics - or even a recording!

    ReplyDelete
  4. That was not the most worrying thing you played.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Perhaps you're thinking of that ear-bleeding Johnny Winter album, Bryan? Or my comprehensive Fugs collection? Mind you, that interminable Live Dead double album was, I believe, yours...

    Hey Joey - you've given me an idea for a Nigeness competition: Write a stanza/chorus of the legendary 'lost' Donovan song, My Darling Tangerine Eyes, remembering that it must fit the melody of Tambourine Man. Anyone...?

    ReplyDelete
  6. I don't get angry nowadays, but if i did i would...what's Donovan ever done to you? Just produce amongst the most beguiling pop singles ever heard....and just what have you ever done for Donovan?

    ReplyDelete
  7. Funny you should ask, Anon - me and Donovan. So many tales, so many years - taught that boy everything he knows - just ask him, he'll tell you... Don't mention the toaster though.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Leave it Anon, he ain't worth it, he gets like this....but H.M.S Donovan? Why blush? An album for children, perfect in concept and execution, with a lovely sleeve, ( keep it for the grandkids). and remember Donovan's superb "b" sides? Teen Angel (hurdy), Poor Cow (juniper)....did you know that Nige wrote them both?

    ReplyDelete
  9. thank you Anon, i didn't know!. Maybe Nige's blush was a modest blush, did he also write the stuff on H.M.S. Donovan?

    ReplyDelete
  10. "I doubt it....", said the carpenter.

    ReplyDelete
  11. Or rather 'Ah doot it!'

    Hey darling tangerine eyes,
    Throw your peel at me.
    I'm not fussy and I've really got the munchies....

    ReplyDelete
  12. "Hey, darling Tangerine Eyes, please don't cry for me/ but if you must, jus' cry into my cocktail, dear.."
    Phew, it's harder than it looks...well done Donovan!!

    ReplyDelete
  13. Tangerine eyes? So she's a ring-tailed lemur??

    ReplyDelete
  14. The second record of "Gift" is also an acoustic children's record, so designated. Sold seperately as "For Little Ones." Even better than "HMS Donovan," though both are stellar. The first record of "Gift" is what has now become referred to as "sunshine pop" or heaven rock, and it was very original at the time. If you were of a certain age and weren't in Vietnam or near the racial-social-class turmoil, it could almost make you believe inevitable peace was around the corner.

    ReplyDelete
  15. The second record of "Gift" is also an acoustic children's record, so designated. Sold seperately as "For Little Ones." Even better than "HMS Donovan," though both are stellar. The first record of "Gift" is what has now become referred to as "sunshine pop" or heaven rock, and it was very original at the time. If you were of a certain age and weren't in Vietnam or near the racial-social-class turmoil, it could almost make you believe inevitable peace was around the corner.

    ReplyDelete
  16. شركة نقل عفش
    اهم شركات مكافحة حشرات بالخبر كذلك معرض اهم شركة مكافحة حشرات بالدمام والخبر والجبيل والخبر والاحساء والقطيف كذلك شركة رش حشرات بالدمام ومكافحة الحشرات بالخبر
    شركة مكافحة حشرات بالدمام
    شركة تنظيف خزانات بجدة الجوهرة من افضل شركات تنظيف الخزانات بجدة حيث ان تنظيف خزانات بجدة يحتاج الى مهارة فى كيفية غسيل وتنظيف الخزانات الكبيرة والصغيرة بجدة على ايدى متخصصين فى تنظيف الخزانات بجدة
    شركة تنظيف خزانات بجدة
    شركة كشف تسربات المياه بالدمام
    شركة نقل عفش واثاث

    ReplyDelete