"Paul came round one day and found me writing some songs and he sat down to play me some of his. I enjoy the distinction of being the only singer that added a lyric to a Beatles song," says Donovan. "Paul said he had a little ditty called 'Yellow Submarine' but he was missing two lines.He also claims his place as a precursor to Led Zeppelin:
"I immediately knew what this song was about. It wasn't a submarine at all, it was about this life that we were living, locked away from the public in our own world. The rest of the world was outside and our friends were all aboard. The only people that really understood were those that were on the same boat. I learned the song quickly and came back with the "sky of blue and sea of green" line.
[Donovan's album] 'The Hurdy Gurdy Man' is an obvious precursor for Led Zeppelin. ... "Jimmy Page is on 'Hurdy Gurdy' and 'Sunshine Superman'. He comes from the same musical roots as me, even though Zeppelin was powered up. 'Hurdy Gurdy Man' was the first Celtic rock record," says the singer.
While reports vary, Donovan is adamant that three quarters of Led Zeppelin played on 'Hurdy Gurdy' and their manger, Peter Grant, listened in from an office next door to the studio.
And Liam Gallagher, when he was unknown, went up to Donovan and said "I'm going to be just like you and I'm going to do what you do."
Sounds a bit arrogant, but what the hell. Donovan deserves a lot of credit. He really was great. I've been a Donovan fan from the moment I heard his first single ("Catch the Wind"), and I'm sure I've listened to "Hurdy Gurdy Man" many more times than you have. Get Thy Bearings!
(Here's a link, but don't buy this. Wait for the reissue.)