The Rabbit Hole 11th August 2020 featuring Donovan

Programme Plan

Donovan

2;19                 Catch The Wind Live

In 1965 aged just 19 years old; Donovan played that live on Ready Steady Go.

It was a turning point in his life in so many ways.

(born Donovan Philips Leitch, 10 May 1946) he is a Scottish singer, songwriter and guitarist.

He has lived in Scotland, in Hertfordshire, in London and in California, and since at least 2008 in County Cork, Ireland, with his family.

In 1965 he made his first apperances on TV and recorded his first singles when he signed with Pye Records, later signed to CBS/Epic Records in the US, the was the first signing by the company’s new vice-president Clive Davis – and it was Donovans ticket to became an international success.

It was in this period he began a long and successful collaboration with record producer Mickie Most, scoring multiple hit singles and albums in the UK, US, and other countries.

2;43                 Colours

2;15                 Universal Soldier

His most successful singles were the early UK hits “Catch the Wind”, “Colours” and “Universal Soldier” in 1965, written by Buffy Sainte-Marie. In September 1966 “Sunshine Superman” topped America’s Billboard Hot 100 chart for one week and went to number two in Britain, followed by “Mellow Yellow” at US No. 2 in December 1966, then 1968’s “Hurdy Gurdy Man” in the Top 5 in both countries, then “Atlantis”, which reached US No. 7 in May 1969.

4;41                 Sunshine Superman

3;11                 Hurdy Gurdy man

He became a friend of pop musicians including Joan Baez, Brian Jones and the Beatles. He taught John Lennon a finger-picking guitar style in 1968 that Lennon employed in “Dear Prudence” and “Julia”.

At just 24 years old in 1969 left the industry for a time.

Now its not a great recording but here is John Lennon’s Dear Prudence demo from 1968

4;42                 Dear Prudence                       John Lennon

What becomes clear when you research Donovan is his story would be nothing without love.

In Donovan’s words: I first met Linda Lawrence in March 1965 in the green room of “Ready Steady Go!,” the British pop TV show. Linda was a friend of one of the co-hosts. She had an art-school vibe, and after a brief conversation, I asked her to dance to a soul record playing. As we jazz danced, I fell in love.

2;38                 Jennifer Juniper

In the weeks that followed, Linda and I spent time together. She told me she had recently separated from Brian Jones, the Rolling Stones’ founder. She said while they never married, they had a 1-year-old son named Julian.

After their split, Linda lived quietly at home, building her modelling portfolio. In the spring of ’65, she moved to LA to find work. Brian wasn’t providing financial support, and Linda wanted a start fresh she left Julian with her mother until she was settled.

4;52                 Season of The Witch

That summer, my song “Catch the Wind” became a hit in the U.S., and I wound up in L.A. to promote it. I visited Linda, and we spent many weeks together. I asked her to marry me, but she said she needed time and wanted to remain in California.

2;23                 There is A Mountain

I was miserable but undeterred. Back in London, in the early fall of ’65, I lived above the flat of my manager, Ashley Kozak.

Missing Linda, I began to write “Sunshine Superman.”

2;23                 Wear Your Love Like Heaven

In the flat’s main room, I sat cross-legged on a tatami mat and played the cherry-red Gibson J-45 I had bought in L.A.

As I wrote the words and music, it became an optimistic heartbreak song. Like many of my songs, it expressed hopeful melancholy.

3;29                 Candy Man

The second line, “Could’ve tripped out easy a-but I’ve, a-changed my ways” has nothing to do with an acid trip. It means I could have allowed my thoughts to slip into depression but I didn’t.

I had, of course, tried acid by then in London. Acid was legal and it was easily available. When I wrote “Sunshine Superman,” I probably had smoked a bit of herb. To take the edge off my long days promoting records, Gyp Mills, my closest friend and flat-mate, and I often began the day with a joint.

“Sunshine” was indeed slang for LSD, but the reference was actually about the sun coming through my flat’s window. “Superman” had nothing to do with the superhero or physical power. It’s a reference to a Friedrich Nietzsche book, he wrote about the evolution of consciousness to reach a higher superman state.

“Superman or Green Lantern ain’t got a-nothin’ on me” refers to my childhood obsession with comic books in Glasgow, Scotland. I had become fascinated by the Green Lantern and loved the emerald stone in his ring—a symbol of the Inner Light in all of us.

2;34                 Goldwatch Blues

“When you’ve made your mind up / forever to be mine” was simply a prediction that in time, Linda and I would once again be together.

By 1970, I had recorded six more albums and had toured to support them. I was exhausted, so I decided to retreat to the woods of Hertfordshire, England, where I had a little cottage that I rented out when I was away on tour.

3;03                 Little Tin Soldier

One day, not long after I returned, I was sleeping upstairs when I heard a car pull up. As I came down the stairs, the front door opened and Lorey, a friend, breezed in. With her was Linda.

I gave Linda a hug. Then I grabbed my guitar and we walked into the woods and to a field, where we sat down. I sang her a song I was writing. A cow came along and licked her on the face and walked off. We laughed. Soon after, Linda and I moved in together with Julian, and we married on Oct. 2, 1970. Linda and I have been together ever since.

2;32                 Ramblin Boy

Donovan continued to perform and record sporadically in the 1970s and 1980s. His musical style and hippie image were scorned by critics, especially after punk rock. His performing and recording became sporadic until a revival in the 1990s with the emergence of Britain’s rave scene. He recorded the 1996 album Sutras with producer Rick Rubin and in 2004 made a new album, Beat Cafe. Donovan was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2012 and the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2014.

2;58                 Sunny Goodge Street

Donovan is still very much alive and kicking, he played live in 2019 and I’m sure we will get to see him live in 2020.

2;59                 Catch The Wind


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