New album catches the wind for Donovan
By Ralph Gowling
Donovan decided to go back to Nashville, Tennessee to record his latest album because the now iconic American music hub was where it all started for him with ‘Catch The Wind’.
“I never forgot Nashville and I knew I would go back to Nashville one day with a set of songs I have kept in my jean’s back pocket,” said Donovan.
The result is the album “Shadows Of Blue”, just released on the Treasure Isle Studios label, which contains new gems from the man once hailed as Britain’s answer to Bob Dylan.
Donovan said the set of numbers he kept for Nashville included ballads about broken hearts and outlaw songs. One of the tracks, ‘Harmonica Girl’, features singer-songwriter John Sebastian who fronted American hit-making group The Lovin’ Spoonful.
“As a kid in 1940s Scotland, I listened to my Irish-Scots family sing folk songs, though I didn’t know they were folk songs then: songs of oppression, rebellion, prison ships, forced migration, lost love.
“My father would recite the poems of Robert Service, tales of The Yukon and the adventurers who went over to America in the 1800s, taking the Irish-Scots music with them.
“Many settled in the rural south and helped create Country Music.
As a teen I listened to Hank Williams, Buddy Holly and The Everly Brothers and I knew I wanted to sing and make records. I hitchhiked away from home at 16 with my pal Gypsy Dave and a borrowed arch-top Zenith guitar.
“I slept on the beaches of Cornwall and seriously learned Mother Maybele’s finger-style guitar picking which became such an important part of my recordings. It was my great good fortune to be discovered in London at 18 and recorded (in Nashville) by Ralph Peer Jnr, whose father Ralph Peer had recorded The Carter Family and Jimmy Rodgers in 1928.”
Donovan was close to The Beatles and even influenced some of their guitar work. George Harrison said on The Beatles Anthology DVD: “Donovan is all over ‘The White Album’.” ‘Catch The Wind’, released in 1965, soared to No.4 in the UK and No.23 in the US. ‘Colours’ was another UK No.4 that same year for Donovan and the EP ‘The Universal Soldier’ went No.5. ‘Sunshine Superman’ in 1966 became his biggest international hit, going to No.2 in the UK and to No.1 in America. Donovan wrote ‘Sunshine Superman’ for his wife Linda when they first met in 1965. They married in Windsor five years later. Jimmy Page supplied the literally electrifying guitar parts on the title track. But some who say they were at the recording session dispute that Jimmy was on the track. In September 2010, Donovan was nominated for the Rock And Roll Hall of Fame which said: “He virtually single-handedly initiated the psychedelic revolution with Sunshine Superman.”
‘Mellow Yellow’ reached No.8 in the UK and No.2 in the US. ‘There Is A Mountain’ in 1967 went to No.8 in Britain. 1968 was also highly successful for Donovan with ‘Jennifer Juniper’ reaching No.5 and ‘Hurdy Gurdy Man’ making it to No.4.