Sunshine Superman – Donovan

Sunshine Superman - Donovan
Sunshine Superman –

Lurking in the shadow of the giants of rock, Donovan is an often forgotten treasure of the 60s. This Scottish singer, with his gentle voice and bewitching melodies, made his mark on his era by skilfully blending traditional folk and psychedelic rock.

Donovan Philips Leitch was born in 1946 in industrial Glasgow. Brought up in a loving family, he was surrounded by Celtic legends and folk tunes from an early age. As a teenager, he developed a passion for poetry, and this literary sensibility would later show through in his writing. London embraced him when he was just 18, the young artist playing in folk clubs and already attracting attention.

A few facts about Donovan to help you shine at parties

  1. Meeting : Donovan was friends with the Beatles, and even went to India with them in 1968 to study transcendental meditation with Maharishi Mahesh Yogi.
  2. Influence on “Yellow Submarine”: Donovan claims to have taught a guitar picking technique, which was later used in the Beatles' song “Julia”. He also suggested the line “Sky of blue and sea of green” in their song “Yellow Submarine”.
  3. Change of style: While he was initially compared to because of his folk style, Donovan quickly moved towards a psychedelic style, making him one of the pioneers of this musical genre in the UK.
  4. Film Cameo: Donovan appeared in the 1967 film Poor Cow, playing a fictional version of himself.
  5. Named by a poet: Donovan was dubbed “the troubadour of stars” by the American poet .
  6. Turned down by the : In 2005, Donovan turned down an offer to be made an Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) by Queen Elizabeth II.
  7. A daughter in music: His daughter, Ione Skye, is a well-known actress and was married to musician Ben Lee. She is best known for her starring role in the 1989 film “Say Anything…”.
  8. Meditation advocate: Donovan is a fervent advocate of transcendental meditation and even founded the “Invincible Donovan University”, a project aimed at integrating this form of meditation into education.

The “Sunshine Superman” album

1967 marked a turning point in Donovan's career. He gave the world “Sunshine Superman”, a daring and avant-garde fresco of sound. Moving away from pure folk, he threw himself into psychedelia with obvious passion. Abbey Road Studios, home to so many legends, resonates with the experimentation of Donovan and producer Mickie Most. The mix of traditional instruments with sounds from elsewhere (such as the Indian sitar) is innovative and gives the album a unique colour.

But what makes this opus unique is its conception. Donovan, inspired by his travels in India and life-changing encounters, writes profound, sometimes mystical lyrics. Nature, love and spirituality are all themes that run through the album, carried by enchanting melodies.

The song: “Season of the Witch

Among the wonders of “Sunshine Superman”, “Season of the Witch” stands out for its evocative power. This track, with its heady riffs, plunges us into a mysterious atmosphere. The lyrics, meanwhile, reflect the questions of the time, between spiritual quest and social awareness. Donovan plays with words, evoking both magic and social unrest.

The song is a veritable tableau, accurately depicting the effervescence of the 60s. It reflects a changing era, torn between tradition and modernity, hope and disillusionment.

Hole, the grunge band led by Courtney Love, performed an intense live version during their Unplugged session.

More recently, in 2019, Lana Del Rey included an atmospheric and modern cover of “Season of the Witch” in the soundtrack to the film “Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark”.

Where to listen to Sunshine Superman?

Useful links for Donovan

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