November 28, 2005

"And, man, I was gratified when the fab chicks screamed."

Janet Maslin writes about -- sorry, he's an old Althouse favorite -- Donovan:
In his prime, the astral singer-songwriter Donovan appeared to take a serene view of show business and its cutthroat ways. Not anymore. Nowadays, Donovan would like you to know that he never received proper credit for Flower Power, World Music, New Age Music, the boxed-set album package, using LSD and the lyric "Love, Love, Love" before the Beatles did and playing folk-rock five months before Bob Dylan wielded an electric guitar at the 1965 Newport Folk Festival.
He deserves this credit too, Maslin says. Donovan states his claims in a book:
"The Autobiography of Donovan" is a very strange book (what else?) that revisits the fertile, trippy 60's, the elaborately constructed aura of Donovan's beatitude, the wild incongruities of that era's popular culture (when the guest list for one Donovan party included Milton Berle, Jimmy Durante and the Doors) and the lingo that has become so quaint. "And, man, I was gratified when the fab chicks screamed," he writes in all seriousness about appearing on his first television show....

"The constant gibes in the British press about my love of beauty has long left a false impression of my work," he maintains. "I was mocked as a simpleton when I sang of birds and bees and flowers like a child." He was also mocked for being wild about saffron, but it turns out that he loves saffron monks' robes and saffron cake with raisins. In any case, this book is where the mockery ends. And the last laugh begins.
Okay, that explains the saffron, but what about "I'm just mad about fourteen/She's just mad about me"? On "Donovan in Concert" he sings "Mellow Yellow" with the variation: "I'm just mad about fourteen-year-old girls. They're mad about me." Aw, they're just all the young girls in the audience, the fab chicks who screamed. I was one of them.


Performing Bear said...

Donovan, heh?

First LP I ever purchased (or was it the Lovin Spoonful?)

I tried smoking banana.

"Season of the Witch" is a great song. I'm sure Mr. Leach wrote others.

paulfrommpls said...

Remember this last line of Cyprus Avenue?

"So young and bold, fourteen years old
Baby, baby, baby...

Van's greatest song, many say. (Do you know of the bass player on Astral Weeks who taught at UW Madison in later years? Richard Davis, I think his name was.)

paulfrommpls said...

Or "Mexicali Blues," courtesy of Bob Weir -

"And now I've got a bottle, and a girl who's just fourteen..."


Ron said...

Connecting this to the next thread, Ann, are you just some chemicals for Donovan? Would saffron alter that chemical balance?

More chemicals! More cowbell!

Ann Althouse said...

Are songwriters more careful about writing pedophile lyrics these days? Remember "Young girl, get out of my mind/My love for you is way out of line/Better run, girl/You're much too young"? Yikes!

Buck Pennington said...

Or The Stones' "Stray Cat Blues"...

I hear the click-clack of your feet on the stairs
I know you’re no scare-eyed honey.
There’ll be a feast if you just come upstairs
But it’s no hanging matter
It’s no capital crime

I can see that you’re fifteen years old
No I don’t want your i.d.
You look so rest-less and you’re so far from home
But it’s no hanging matter
It’s no capital crime

Jagger changed the lyric to "13 years old" on Get Yer Ya-Ya's Out (live). Oh my, how times have changed!

paulfrommpls said...

I read a while back - and I couldn't gurantee the truth of it - that when Jerry Lee Lewis married his young cousin, destroying for a while his pop career and sending hom into the backwater of country music, she was reported as 13, but she was actually 12. He lied and said she was 13.

That's an all-time great lie. Like, that would make everything okay.

Decklin Foster said...

He was on Fresh Air last month, discussing a lot of this stuff. I could listen to that man talk for hours!

Meade said...

Do I detect a hint of sentimentality here? Mawkish, romantic, slushy, sobby, soft, soppy, gooey, mushy, schmaltzy, sloppy, soupy, drippy, sappy sentimentality? Hmm?

Whoa! Wait just a sec -- Now I'm no psychoneuroendocrinologist but even I know NGF when I see it and, lady, you are flushed and behaving like a fourteen year-old with a major folk/rock star crush. I'll bet your palms are sweaty even as you blog.

Alright, maybe it's not "acute love" but there is something rather cute about it. In a sentimental way, that is.

Further research is needed.

vbspurs said...

The only Donovan I know is Landon "Spoilt Landycakes" Donovan, the US' best hope for a World Cup.

I take it, it's not this Donovan.


Judith said...

Ann, you and I seem to have identical tastes in 60s pop! I LOVED Donovan. I just put on Sunshine Superman and Mellow Yellow the other day for the first time in years, and many of the songs hold up pretty well. Too much sitar, but otherwise okay.

Have you heard Kate Bush's cover of "Lord of the Reedy River"?

PS Astral Weeks one of my favorite albums - is the Althouse blog where old hippies go to reminisce?

"Remember "Young girl, get out of my mind/My love for you is way out of line/Better run, girl/You're much too young"? Yikes!"

How about "Don't stand, don't stand, don't stand so close to me"?

Meade said...

Gary Puckett & The Union Gap were creepy and pedophiliac even in 1969 but the name of the band did inspire sophomoric and obscene word plays for fifteen year-old boys so, what the heck, they had redeeming value.