Posts Tagged ‘“Mellow Yellow”’

Sunshine Superman Donovan is a Very Mellow Fellow, a Hurdy Gurdy Man with Loving Vibes

September 9, 2016

DONOVAN was here over Labor Day Weekend. He played two concerts Sunday night during Fairfest 2016, Fairfield, Iowa’s Roots Music Festival. The first was a fundraiser for Maharishi University’s Global Scholarship Fund at the Fairfield Arts & Convention Center‘s Stephen Sondheim Center for the Performing Arts, and the second was with Bonnie Paine and friends to close out the 3-day musical event on the Main Stage outside. Donovan had never played back-to-back performances like that, but it turned out very well.

In the Green Room with Donovan.png

After arriving and having lunch, Donovan met the band at the Sondheim theater and went to work rehearsing with them. It was impressive! They consisted of Elephant Revival’s singer Bonnie Paine (percussion), and two from her group, top to bottom: Daniel Rodriguez (guitar, banjo) and Dango Rose (bass), joined by Arthur Lee Land of Great American Taxi (guitar), and Tim Carbone of Railroad Earth (violin, organ).

The MUM concert in the Sondheim was special and intimate, filled mostly with meditators. Donovan then joined the band on the Main Stage after their performance. In both the rehearsal and the concert, Donovan encouraged each one of the musicians playing his songs. They all really enjoyed themselves, as did the audience, and drew the largest crowd of the 3-day event! See video clips below. After the concert, Donovan invited them back to his Green Room to share stories about the music business. What a magical treat for them all!!! Producer Michael Sternfeld took the group photo, choreographed by Donovan.

Donovan Day in LA

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Thank you Mayor Eric Garcetti and Councillor Koretz of City Hall Los Angeles for this singular honor to mark the Fiftieth Birthday of my song SUNSHINE SUPERMAN reaching number one on the Billboard Top 100. A love song for Linda yes, but also when we met we both knew we were on the same journey to raise awareness of a higher consciousness for the future generations. We are still on that journey. Come to my 21 city SUNSHINE SUPERMAN AMERICAN TOUR and share this birthday with me. — Donovan

New addition: Donovan Presentation–LA City Council Meeting.

Some News Coverage

Donovan left Fairfield early Tuesday morning to continue the American wing of his “Sunshine Superman” Tour, which was unofficially launched at East Hampton, Donovan: Flower-Power Icon of Change, then officially on Good Day LA, which discussed Donovan Day in LA. That night he performed on Jimmy Kimmel Live, who said Donovan’s tour was starting in Fairfield, Iowa! After his performance, Jimmy whispered in Donovan’s ear that his interview with Howard Stern was the best ever. Fox News Video also posted this clip: Donovan shows no sign of slowing down.

Billboard later published: Donovan Reflects on ‘Sunshine Superman’ 50th Anniversary, Hanging With The Beatles & Jimmy Page, Flower-Power Era. And then this news, which is so appropriate: Donovan to Be Honored With John Lennon Real Love Award at Tribute Concert. “Donovan is a beautiful soul who was positively influenced by John,” Yoko Ono said in a statement. Read how this came about in this fascinating billboard article.

It’s interesting that Donovan will receive this award in John Lennon’s name. Donovan also had a positive influence on John when the Beatles were with Maharishi in India. John had asked Donovan to show him how he played his guitar. Donovan said it was the claw hammer style he had learned from another musician. It was based on a banjo-picking style converted to guitar.

In a way, it came full circle for John, since his mother, Julia, had taught him how to play chords on a banjo she had given him before he picked up the guitar. John wrote Julia and Dear Prudence using that style. Paul picked it up his way and wrote Mother Nature’s Child and Black Bird. George Harrison said Donovan was all over The Beatles White Album. Donovan mentions all this and more in a Rolling Stone interview (April 19, 2012) after he was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Watch the video: Donovan: On teaching guitar technique to Beatles.

Fairfield News Coverage

Some regional articles came out to promote the event. The Iowa Source published an article by Michael Sternfeld: Donovan: Sunshine Superman. Michael Braunstein wrote a very interesting article for The Reader in Omaha. Musician and journalist Bob Saar, who has covered David Lynch Weekends and MUM Commencements, wrote a great article for The Hawk Eye: Donovan to perform at FAIRfest 2016. Iowa City’s Little Village’s Arts Editor Genevieve Heinrich published: Musician Donovan Leitch talks legacy of ‘Sunshine Superman’ and importance of Transcendental Meditation, and showed up for the concert with her family. Mark Newman from the Ottumwa Courier dropped by during rehearsal: Donovan performance mends Fairfield hearts. Mark surprised me with a mention, helping Donovan set up.

Highlights of FairFest Roots Music Festival

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Werner Elmker posted this photo of Donovan from the solo concert, and these Fairfest 2016 Highlights of Day One, Day Two, and Day Three, which contains excerpts from Donovan’s Sondheim and Main Stage concerts.

Professional photographer Kim Green came down from Cedar Rapids and posted a slideshow: Fairfest ~ Labor Day weekend 2016 – Prairie Moon Media- An eclectic mix.

Andy Hayward posted clips from both shows of Donovan at FAIRfest ’16.

FairfieldRocksMe posted these videos:

Fairfield Celebrates Donovan

A Labor Day lunch was hosted by Mayor Ed and Vicki Malloy. Some guests brought their Donovan records and posters for him to sign, and took pictures. In attendance were Bevan Morris, John and Kara Hagelin, and other leading members of the Fairfield/MUM community.

After lunch, Donovan regaled us with stories from Rishikesh, India at Maharishi’s ashram with the Beatles, Mike Love, Prudence Farrow, and others. He told us stories of his times with Maharishi, and a vivid dream he had of him, a week before coming here for the America wing of his 50th anniversary tour.

Donovan then asked me to share the story of what Maharishi had said about him. When I was with Maharishi at Lake Louise, one of my course mates had asked Maharishi about George Harrison and Donovan. About Donovan, Maharishi said he was the most sensitive boy he had ever met.

A few months before he was to join the Beatles and the others in India, Donovan said he was interviewed by John Carpenter for Rolling Stone’s premier issue, (1st and 2nd issues, Nov 9 & 23, 1967). In Part 1, he made a statement that summarized his approach to music: “There’s only one thing in the end, and that’s singing truth in a pleasant way.”

Carpenter asked him about composing, performing, his phenomenal success, and his very recent meeting with Maharishi who had taught him how to meditate. He describes that experience towards the end of Part 2: You just spent three days with Maharishi in Los Angeles. What’s he like?

Read more posts on Donovan here. If you can, see him in concert this time around. Check Donovan’s website for a list of concert dates and locations.

donovan-fairfield-friends

After his last interview for A Fairfield Documentary, a few of us had our picture taken with Donovan. He directed the photo shoot, taken by Werner Elmker. From the tallest to the shortest: Michael Sternfeld, who produced the Sondheim Concert, Bill Goldstein, who introduced the MUM International scholarship students, Donovan, and myself, Ken Chawkin. (Click photo to enlarge it.)

I must say, of all the times I’ve interacted with Donovan over the years, I found him to be most generous and patient with his time and energy while interacting with everyone. Not much ego there, but a very sensitive loving soul, who was kissed by the lord and filled with song to wear his love like heaven. He truly is an evolved Hurdy Gurdy Man, a gift of a rare flower to our garden! Looking forward to seeing him in Fairfield again, next time with his lovely wife Linda.

Update (March 7, 2019): Last year, January 11, 2018, Donovan sent us a link to his interview with Mike Greenblatt for Goldmine Magazine, which had come out the day before: Donovan: Psychedelia’s Poet Laureate. In it he tells the story of how he met the Beatles, shared songwriting with Paul, his spiritual friendship with George, his learning TM from Maharishi, and their trip to India to learn more. And the rest is history, our history!

Billboard interview: Donovan Q&A: Catching Up With a Folk Rock Superman

April 12, 2012

In the three months since Donovan received the news that he will be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, he has stepped up his activity in front of the film, TV and music industries. He performed at  the Sundance Film Festival, made numerous private performances for music supervisors and delivered a sold-out chat and performance at L.A.’s Grammy Museum.

“Good Day L.A.,” the morning show of the Los Angeles’ FOX affiliate, devoted daily segments to Donovan during the last week of  March, culminating in a live performance on March 30. Next up is the induction ceremony on April 14, which will be followed by Sony Legacy’s release of “The Essential Donovan” on April 17. HBO will air the Hall of Fame ceremony/concert on May 5.

In an interview held at his daughter’s home in the Hollywood Hills, Donovan spelled out his plan for the Rock Hall concert. “‘Sunshine Superman’, I cannot not play, but I would like to preface it with an acoustic song, probably ‘Catch the Wind.’ We’ll follow with ‘Season of the Witch.’ It looks like Jim James of My Morning Jacket (will join in). We played together at Radio City for the meditation concert and I got on really well with him so I will have the younger generation there.”

The meditation concert he referred to was held in 2009 for the David Lynch Foundation that funds the teaching of Transcendental Meditation for school-age children. Donovan, who turns 65 in May, has been an avid supporter of the Lynch Foundation, contributing a track last year to “Download For Good: Music That Changes The World.” A copy of the CD was on the coffee table so our conversation, which would touch on  poets from the 18th century up through the Beat Generation, Bob Dylan and his last studio album, the underrated 2004 release “Beat Café,” began with TM.

Billboard: Last year we heard a new song from you, “Listen.” As one of the first and most visible people to experience TM in India, how has it affected your music?

Donovan: In the early days when the Beatles and I went to India and returned, we knew our fans should have it and then the world should have it. We needed it. Flash forward 35 years later (April 4, 2009) and Paul (McCartney) and Ringo (Starr) and Donovan and David Lynch are on the stage at Radio City Music Hall announcing to the world how schools have applied this meditation. Fear and anger and doubt have been subdued somewhat. It doesn’t mean that you’ll never be angry or filled with doubt again, but you won’t hold on to it —  all things the Maharishi spoke of. This one was designed to be very applicable to the Western way of thinking. My dream was to (figure out) how do we bring in a new generation of songwriters? As it progressed, I wrote songs with meditation in them. The Beatles wrote songs with meditation in them.

What was the first song you were aware of writing because of TM?

“Happiness Runs” is the most direct one, which I wrote while in India with the Beatles and one Beach Boy (Mike Love) and Mia Farrow. Before India in ’68 I was always looking for songs where people could sing along. It’s part of the job to be a poet, folk singer — children’s songs, rounds, circular songs. And so I made this circular song “Happiness Runs” and it directly references meditation because it says ‘happiness runs in a circular motion/thought is like a little boat upon the sea.’ Simple words, but profound. More rocking was the “Hurdy Gurdy Man.” In the 18th century the hurdy gurdy man played the instrument the hurdy gurdy and he traveled from town to town and he brought the news. So I related the hurdy gurdy man in the song to the teacher, the Maharishi, who brings us songs of love.

When you said meditation affected your songwriting, the first thing I thought of was “There is a Mountain.” What’s its origin?

It comes from a Zen haiku, but it is a koan as well — the clever question asked of the student by the Zen master. “First there is a mountain, then there is no mountain, then there is.” “The caterpillar sheds its skin/to find the butterfly within.” It’s very literal. If we could discard our skin, our hard husk of persona, it’s an obvious description that inside there is a softer human. I found (sayings) in old books and by putting them into songs, I hoped they would trigger a question in the listener. By giving it a rhythm it has an attraction — people were singing my lyrics not knowing what they were about.

On a certain level, you were far ahead of your time. Musicians of the last decade seem to understand you better than the musical community of the 1980s and ’90s. Have you sensed that?

I could sit cross-legged in front of 20,000 people and play solo with one guitar (in the early 1970s tours) and a pin could drop and (be heard). I assumed even then, that everything I was singing they knew. It was just a veil hiding it. That didn’t mean that the outside world would understand the Donovan magic or the songwriting. But I have been recognized, extraordinarily so, by the audience. We’re talking 17 top 100 singles, selling out all the great concert halls of the world — Sydney Opera House, Hollywood Bowl, Royal Albert Hall, Carnegie Hall. One gets recognized by one’s peers and journalists who have a lot of experience and have studied and know where the various parts of my music came from.

There were so many facets to your music – there was a dramatic change from “Catch the Wind” to “Cosmic Wheels” and that’s just 10 years. What made you want to be more than a folk singer and bring so many other elements into your music?

I’m a sponge. When I was younger I absorbed so much music and (the story) is always the same — passed on by an older Bohemian who has a house that becomes a crossroads for visitors. Such a one was in the town of St. Albans for me. Such a one was in Minnesota for Dylan. It’s where the older Bohemian says I know what you’re up to; you better spend a few days with my record collection. In it is everything – folk, jazz, blues, classical, baroque, spoken word. I was so fascinated that I absorbed all of the styles, even the antique music of Sicily, rare flamenco from 1928. It was fascinating to me that I started dressing my lyrics in all kinds of costumes musically. Many of my contemporaries had one or two styles — folk, blues. But when I did “Sunshine Superman,” begun in 1965 and finished in May 1966, and presented so many genres blended, it was a natural thing to me. It represented what the Bohemian said: all the cultures should share the planet. That meant be brave, break the rules and walk over the genre lines and blend. I could see how it made me difficult to pin down.

At the beginning of it all, though, was folk music.

It was. (As a young boy) all the relatives would come around, the room would be cleared and a chair would be put in the middle. And a slightly tipsy relative would be pushed into the chair to sing their one song. These songs I didn’t know at the time, were folk songs from the Scottish and the Irish, about the troubles and the migrations.  Only later, when I was 15, did I learn these were called folk songs. After that my father’s record collection of Sinatra and my mother’s Billie Holiday and five-piece jazz groups from the ’30s and musicals. When I was 15 ,that would be Everly Brothers and Buddy Holly and I’d collect all the records. At 16, I plugged into a (college) campus for nine months and became aware of the older Bohemians who introduced me to the jazz club, the folk club and the coffee house and the art school and soon the blues club. After that it was easy for me to fuse (styles); I just wanted to see how far it could go. The base is always the same – the guitar and the vocal.

At some point early on, you made the decision to write songs, which many folk singers of the early 1960s did not do.

I much more wanted to be recognized as a poet than as a musician. Poetry is still looked upon as something ineffectual, narcissistic. In actual fact, the Bohemian poets in the ’40s,  their mission was to return poetry to popular culture. When you bring a poet into popular culture, two lines from a poem can alter a whole nation, it can bring a government down. The beat poets were wrong when they thought poetry would come back on the wings of jazz. Some poets were improvising with jazz improvisers in clubs, but improvisational poetry only works within improvisational music. When folk jumped into bed with rock, the form of the folk ballad would allow the new lyric (to thrive), first with Bobby Dylan then with myself and Joni Mitchell, Leonard Cohen, Neil Young. The Beatles realized it, too. They were from the Irish tradition of social activism  (in poetry) but didn’t know it. I somehow knew it, because my father had brought me up reading poetry to me of social change.  Before I heard Woody Guthrie, my father was reading poems of social consciousness to me —  Wordsmith, Coleridge, Shelly. I got fired with the zeal that we could bring something (literate) to the fans of pop music to get their teeth into.

You arrived in the U.S. as a folkie but sign to Epic and become a rock star. A conscious decision?

It came to a boil in May 1965 when Joan (Baez), Bobby and I met (as documented) in (the film) “Don’t Look Back.” At the time, folk singers, classical and jazz musicians released albums, pop music went on 45s. I was a bit ahead, releasing a single. That bit of harmless plastic, the 45, I realized was cheap, available and millions of Baby Boomers bought them. There was already something going on that I was joining (socially conscious folk-rock music). But the folk singers rebelled,saying ‘We’re not plugging in our banjos and guitars.’ Nobody understood that folk could meet pop or rock.

It wasn’t until 2004 when you did “Beat Café” that you really exposed the importance of poets on your work. Why did you decide the time was right for that project?

I was exploring the Bohemian cooking pot that was going on when folk and jazz and poetry were mixing in these special hangouts. (Producer) John Chelew suggested that I and (the bassist) Danny Thompson (record). He said ‘That’s unique when you and Danny play a drone. I’ll pay for it. Come in and we’ll do the drone for an hour.’ Before I went in, I couldn’t do just a drone. We were recording at Capitol so I thought I’ll write a song for Danny that will be like Peggy Lee’s ‘Fever.’ I’ll get  a bass line going and I’ll write about when we used to play in the clubs. It was simple. We went into the studio and did the track. My wife, Linda, was in the studio. She knows her stuff and says there’s only one drummer who can join this thing, (Jim) Keltner. In came Jim. Set up his whole kit never knowing what it was about, having never played with Danny. He’s got the big kit set up and  I went (sings bass line). He looked at me laughed, ‘OK I’m in.’ And we sang about life in the beat cafes.

Good as the album is, the shows were even better – you mixed talk about poets and their affect on your writing.

San Francisco was particularly touching because Michael McClure was there. He jumped on stage and did (a poem). In New York, in Joe’s Pub, a girl stood up on a table and pumped it out. Nobody knew her. I took it on tour in the U.K., but it wasn’t the same. Before I took it on tour, I said it can only be in a small room, a  Bohemian café and there just aren’t enough of them.

You’ve been active this year, getting out to places such as the Sundance Film Festival to perform at the BMI Snow Ball and at the musical instrument trade show NAMM. What will come out of this activity?

The music supervisors have always been friends of mine and (publisher) Peermusic is introducing me to all these (projects). I would love to do a soundtrack with the right director – I have a love of cinema and by extension TV and commercials. I’m fascinated that Gibson wants to make me a custom cherry red J-45, which I used for every album up through 1969. It was stolen in 1970 — a fan walked into a stadium in 1970 and out with the J-45. It’s never been returned. I carried around the J-45 nostalgically as a second guitar while I played my new custom guitar, the moon shaped guitar designed by Tony Zemaitis. When Gibson heard there was a wanted poster out, they decided to make a guitar. To have a custom guitar and then possibly a line of guitars for my fans, that’s a lovely thing.

VIDEOS

These videos were embedded in the interview: “Catch the Wind” — 1964, “Cosmic Wheels” — 1972, and Bob Dylan And Donovan.

Donovan Tribute Week on Good Day L.A. All week they were saluting Donovan as he gets inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Watch the Interviews in their Video Player.

Donovan Tribute Week, Poe Performs “Season Of The Witch”

Eric Burdon “Spills The Wine” Saluting Donovan!

Jackie DeShannon “Puts A Little Love In Our Hearts”

Smothers Brothers’ Tommy Gives “Big-ups” to Donovan

Spencer Davis “Keeps On Running” and Salutes Donovan!

Donovan Week Continues With Tribute From Jon Anderson of “YES”.

The Essential…Donovan!! – Live On Good Day L.A.: interview and singing

Listen to WKSU: Scottish singer-songwriter looks back at his career with WKSU’s Bob Burford: Donovan still mellow as Rock Hall honors awaits

Visit http://www.donovan.ie/en/ for more interviews.

Related posts: Ode to Donovan by Meghan for Altavoz: Conan introduces Donovan while holding the DLF Music vinyl box-set “Music That Changes The World” | Donovan Inducted into Rock and Roll Hall of Fame | Donovan and Ben Lee on Good Day LADonovan GDLA and Off-Ramp Interviews | Donovan to be Named Icon at BMI London Awards | Mellow Fellow Donovan




Record of the Day: BMI named Donovan a BMI Icon

October 8, 2009

Record of the Day

BMI Award winners
2009-10-07

American music rights organization Broadcast Music, Inc. (BMI) lauded the UK and Europe’s premier songwriters, composers and music publishers tonight during its annual BMI London Awards. The ceremony was hosted by BMI President & CEO Del Bryant; BMI Senior Vice President, Writer/Publisher Relations Phil Graham; and Executive Director, Writer/Publisher Relations, Europe & Asia Brandon Bakshi. Staged in London’s Dorchester Hotel, Park Lane, the event honored the past year’s most-performed songs on U.S. radio and television. BMI is a United States-based performing right organization that collects and distributes monies for the public performance of music on outlets including radio, television, the Internet and the top-grossing tours in the U.S. British citizens honored at the event are members of the UK performing right society PRS for Music (PRS) and are represented in the US by BMI.
In addition to saluting numerous UK songwriters, composers and music publishers alongside music creators from Europe, India and other international markets, BMI named Donovan a BMI Icon. The Icon designation is given to BMI songwriters who have bestowed “a unique and indelible influence on generations of music makers.” Donovan joins an elite list of past honorees that includes multi-genre nobility Bryan Ferry, Peter Gabriel, Ray Davies, Van Morrison, the Bee Gees, Isaac Hayes, Dolly Parton, James Brown, Willie Nelson, Paul Simon, Steve Winwood and more.
Donovan transformed popular music in the 1960s, earning 12 consecutive Top 40 hits, including “Mellow Yellow,” “Sunshine Superman,” “Wear Your Love Like Heaven,” “There Is a Mountain,” “Lalena,” “Epistle to Dippy,” “Atlantis,” “Hurdy Gurdy Man,” and “Jennifer Juniper,” all of which he wrote alone. His compositions have also resurfaced in hit films and television series, as well as various advertising campaigns. In 1965, “Catch the Wind” earned an Ivor Novello Award for best contemporary folk song, marking the first time the honor was bestowed on an artist’s debut single. Donovan received an Honorary Doctor of Letters from the University of Hertfordshire in 2003, and in 2009, he became Officer of the Order of Arts and Letters from the Minister of Culture, France, and garnered the American Visionary Art Museum Baltimore’s prestigious Grand Visionary Award. A man not only of unfathomable talent but of rare conviction as well, he is a well-known proponent and student of Transcendental Meditation and leads the musical wing of the David Lynch Foundation for Consciousness-Based Education and World Peace. Hard at work on a new album entitled Ritual Groove, Donovan plans to tour continuously through 2010.

Read about the other BMI Award winners in the complete article here: http://bit.ly/uK5DQ


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