‘I come from a very ancient, acoustic root. It was very hard to put a finger on me.’
By: Andy Greene for Rolling Stone
December 7, 2011 12:20 PM ET
Donovan fans probably think that the Scottish folk icon should have been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame years ago, but we checked in with the Hurdy Gurdy Man himself while he was on vacation in Monaco – and he feels the timing is just perfect.
Tell me your first reaction to hearing the news.
It’s a singular honor, and I’m pleased as punch, as they say in England and Scotland. It’s even more special because I’m going to be there with some of my favorite artists and musicians. The Faces are my old chums. We used to hang out. The Chilis, some of them appeared on my Rick Rubin album. Guns N’ Roses, who I’ve come to know in California and did a couple of things with. Of course, the Beastie Boys. A very touching part of this, for me, is the inclusion of the lovely Laura Nyro, who left us too soon, of course. When I was younger, I followed her rise and her extraordinary work. It will be great to see her honored too.
This is a honor that’s long past due for you.
Oh, I’ve been honored from day one. Basically, as a young singer/songwriter/poet arriving at the time that I did – from out of the bohemian world and onto the popular stage – immediately I felt honored. Recognition of one’s work comes from the fans first, of course. My goodness, that’s been again and again recognized.
Honors and awards are very interesting, and I truly accept them. I have very high regard for what they mean. What they mean is that they’re pointing to the work. For me, the work was always to show others, to lead others, to experiment, to break all the rules. I’ve had lots of recognition, and interestingly enough, within the past year, from the Mojo award that Jimmy Page gave me to the Lifetime Achievement Award that the BBC gave me for the folk world.
But this one is singular. It is worldwide, and it’s very interesting because the other ones were quite local. So, no, I don’t feel that I should have had it earlier. Also, I understand that the voting committee is composed of musicians and performers and singer/songwriters. That is also wonderful. It is similar to the Academy Awards where actual makers of films give their vote. They are voting on a very special level. It is great to be honored by one’s peers. There are so many people to choose from by the voting committee. It is very, very difficult for them, I’m sure.
My particular space has always been quite unique in popular music. I have a background in R&B and hard rock and straight pop, but I never went all the way with any of those genres. I have always just experimented, and I come from a very ancient, acoustic root. It was very hard to put a finger on me. People were always like, “What is he?” To be honored now is very timely, because I feel very much like I’ve looked at the work I’ve done, and I’ve been gathering it all together on my website. And quite a journey it’s been – but it’s not the end. No, I hope not.