Blog Entry

GREAT SOLO SONGWRITERS FORUM - PART 2

Posted on: September 26, 2009 10:22 pm
Edited on: September 27, 2009 10:51 am
 

                                 THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK


In this version. I would like to continue with what I call complete songwriters, those who write both lyrics and melodies, that originated from some part of the British Empire. At it’s greatest, the British Empire included England, Ireland, India, Australia, parts of the Caribbean and the Asian islands around Indonesia and the Philippines. For argument’s sake, let’s include continental Europe so I have some place to put Mark Knopfler(I guess this would also make ABBA eligible although I won’t be writing that one!!!!) Once again, I’m asking everyone to hold back on songwriters who are primarily collaborators, such as JAGGER/RICHARDS, PINK FLOYD, U2, ELTON JOHN/TAUPIN, etc. as we can cover them in part 3. This should still give us a large amount of  songwriters to discuss. Again, I tend to be most knowledgeable in the mainstream rock genre from the mid 60s to the late 80s and will concentrate my writings in that area. Others of you who can fill in the niches I’m less familiar with or who have particular songwriters they feel strongly about please should feel free to extol their virtues as I don’t want my own point of view to dominate this too much. OK, enough rules, let’s try to have some fun.

I have a theory that much of the succcess of the British invasion and their point of view on life and art is the result of growing up in post World War II England. I have seen many interviews/shows on how many of this generation of English kids were fatherless and grew up in bombed out suburban settings that Americans can never duplicate or fully understand. It has to be more than a coincidence that so many significant musical figures come from England and were born between 1938 and 1950, including all of THE BEATLES, THE ROLLING STONES, THE WHO and THE KINKS. These kids didn't have playgrounds, they had remnants of bombed buildings to play in. A large percentage of them attended British art schools as well. Perhaps this required them to develop their creative imaginations at an earlier age, perhaps its all just a fluke. Regardless, this has to be the richest period for producing a new generation of artists that all longed for the paradise they thought America to be compared to their homeland and sought it out in the rhythm and blues of the black musicians of the American south.


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Comments

Since: Dec 13, 2007
Posted on: October 31, 2009 6:37 am
 

GREAT SOLO SONGWRITERS FORUM - PART 2

Another great post Fans.
I especially enjoyed the Ian Anderson part because he often gets overlooked when you think of great songwriters - or singers for that matter.
I've always enjoyed his music and wish that I was smart enough to have seen him when he was in town.

I think you've covered this topic very well and I look forward to the voting.



Since: Mar 20, 2008
Posted on: October 29, 2009 12:13 pm
 

GREAT SOLO SONGWRITERS FORUM - PART 2



      
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    MY SWEET LORD, GOD & THE MINSTRELL


      
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sp;   GEORGE HARRISON


Harrison may be the most underappreciated world renown artist and songwriter in the entirety of rock ‘n’ roll. He demonstrated his abilities as a musician and songwriter while still a member of the Beatles, where his immense talents were overshadowed by the success of Paul McCartney and John Lennon and the personality of Ringo Starr. WHILE MY GUITAR GENTLY WEEPS, HERE COMES THE SUN and SOMETHING are songs that are as recognizable and compositionally brilliant as any recorded by the Beatles ever. TAXMAN and WITHIN YOU, WITHOUT YOU are also outstanding compositions that any solo artists would have ridden to a successful career while Harrison was stuck in the background being kn own mostly as the “quiet Beatle.” After the breakup of the Beatles, Harrison arguably had the most successful career as a solo artist of all the Beatles, closely competing with John Lennon for critical acclaim and almost matching McCartney’s popularity in record sales. MY SWEET LORD was the first song written (though Harrison would later lose a lawsuit for unintentional plagiarism) by an ex-Beatle to reach #1. He followed with more success from DARK HORSE to GIVE ME LOVE, GIVE ME PEACE to his work with THE TRAVELING WILBURYS. A spiritual, thoughtful songwriter who chose to continue with his understated guitar playing style as a solo artist instead of using his career success as a platform to showcase his considerable guitar skills. Harrison, in the truest test of an artist for me, never let his ego overpower his desire to make the best songs possible rather than just being flashy for flashy’s sake. While George Harrison is a notch below the best British songwriters of his generation, he is still a great songwriter by anyone’s standards and has never received the credit that should be due him. I would rank him in the area between 15 and 25.

      
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sp;      ERIC CLAPTON

I am very conflicted in my feeling about Slowhand as a true songwriter.  His historical signifigence and stature as an icon of rock and roll are indisputable, his success as both a group member and solo artist is almost incomprehensible, his virtuosity as a guitarist is unarguable.  He is a members of multiple songwriting Hall Of Fames both in America and England, both as a solo musician and also as a member of Cream, Derek & the Dominos and Blind Faith. I guess I get hung up on the fact that a high percentage of his songs are collaborative efforts, though he has never had a long running collaborative partnership. What to make of his ability to write so many great songs with so many different songwriters over his career. He has partnered with George Harrison- WHILE MY GUITAR GENTLY WEEPS, BADGE, Leon Russell- BLUES POWER, Felix Pappiardi - STRANGE BREW, Bonnie Bramlett - LET IT RAIN,  Jack Bruce - SUNSHINE OF YOUR LOVE, and Jim Gordon - LAYLA among others. As recently as 2008, he teamed up with Steve Winwood, another collaborator of his for years, for the song DIRTY CITY. There are too many great songs, true staples of rock history, and too many styles for me to dismiss Clapton as just being in the right place at the right time. So I have to conclude that while Clapton may be at his best when inspired by those around him, his contributions to those songs does mark him as a great songwriter. Then just as I am about to dismiss his abilities to write songs on his own, I am reminded that a couple of my favorite songs of all time are songs written by Clapton without any help. BELL BOTTOM BLUES and LET IT GROW are great examples of an artist with a reputation as a great hard rocking guitarist going against expectations to reveal some true insightfulness and self reflection. LET IT GROW, written as Clapton was conquering a heroin addiction, is one of the most personal, introspective songs I’ve ever listened to. The guitar work on the song is deceptively good and the lyrics are a timeless example of self examination.

Standing at the crossroads, trying to read the signs
To tell me which way I should go to find the answer,
And all the time I know,
Plant your love and let it grow.

Sparse, simple yet achingly beautiful and always true to anyone listening, these are the marks of a master songwriter. But as wonderful as these songs are, it is odd that Eric Clapton’s most successful hits are covers of other artist’s songs, particularly J.J Cale - AFTER MIDNIGHT, COCAINE. So I am back at my conundrum with Clapton as a songwriter. Does he need someone, or something like addiction or unrequited love, to push him for inspiration? Is he just a lazy genius or a great interpreter of other people’s works? Is he truly worthy of consideration as one of the great songwriters of all time?  While my gut tries to convince me otherwise, his contributions to music history and his legendary status in the rock community won’t leave me be. Begrudgingly, I have to rank Clapton in my ten best British songwriters just because I can’t find a singular category that defines him. Maybe he really is god.

      
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bsp;   IAN ANDERSON

While I tend to be dismissive of much of JETHRO TULL’s music as excessive and wasteful of some of the most vivid imagery and wonderful poetry, I have to acknowledge the longevity and diversity of Ian Anderson’s songwriting. A self taught world class flautist, Anderson is also an accomplished guitarist, percussionist, and mouth harp player. His presence as a frontman is legendary and his rich, colorful lyrics paint images as clear as any portrait. To my mind, only Ray Davies is more British as a songwriter than Ian Anderson. I can’t listen to AQUALUNG without picturing Anderson standing on the stage with his raged beard and long trench coat. He doesn’t just sing Aqualung, he becomes Aqualung. CROSSED EYED MARY, LOCOMOTIVE BREATH, AQUALUNG these are all old friends from some bizarre dream that both attract and repulse at the same time. But just as I think Anderson is a gifted despot, he transforms into THE MINSTREL IN THE GALLERY. And I think the minstrel should be the term we define Anderson as, but there remains that vision of the dirty old man “sitting on a park bench” that just won’t leave me LIVING IN THE PAST. Sometimes I think that Anderson is talking directly to me when he says

Really don’t mind if you sit this one out

 from THICK AS A BRICK, a rambling, nearly 40 minute song that takes up both sides of the entire album and ranges in style from whimsical to heavy metal. This album is a microcosm of Ian Anderson’s career to me, ranging from sheer brilliance in it’s use of the flute and full of wonderful lyrical images to stretches of excessively loud hard rock movements that seem to lack focus and give Martin Barre way too much to flaunt his ability as a guitarist. In a perfect world, I would put Anderson in the same band with Clapton and combine his first rate poetry with Clapton’s ability to make the guitar talk while showing restraint. But divergent tastes are what make up the world in which we live and whether I think Jethro Tull is a self indulgent mess is irrelevant. Anderson’s success over multiple decades from THIS WAS to HEAVY HORSES to TOO OLD TO ROCK AND ROLL and then to FARM ON THE FREEWAY have reserved his stature in rock music as a truly great songwriter and a significant historical contributor. While I can’t justify putting IAN ANDERSON in my ten  best British songwriters, I also cannot argue with any conviction against all those who might include him in their top five. To me, Anderson remains as enigmatic an artist as the best of the many wonderful characters he has created in his songs.




Since: Dec 13, 2007
Posted on: October 14, 2009 7:18 am
 

GREAT SOLO SONGWRITERS FORUM - PART 2

Very good points clean!
Paul Simon was definitely one of the pioneers but Sting and Gabriel have really carried that torch!



Since: Jan 22, 2007
Posted on: October 12, 2009 9:23 am
 

GREAT SOLO SONGWRITERS FORUM - PART 2

I feel that Sting was one of the artists like Paul Simon and Peter Gabriel who were to successfully integrate "World Music" into their recordings. Much of Sting's solo work is filled with Latin American and African influences.
Simon's "Graceland" probably set the standard.


    



Since: Mar 20, 2008
Posted on: October 11, 2009 9:00 pm
 

GREAT SOLO SONGWRITERS FORUM - PART 2

Good to see you back in the mix RHINO.  Hope homefront settles down for you soon as I feel sure I am not the only one who misses your contributions. I plan to extend this current blog until the last week of the month.  If anyone has a particular artist they would like discussed, they can just state so and I will try to research and post an entry for them. My next subject will probably be Ian Anderson of Jethro Tull. After that I could use a little inspiration. I have found a couple of websites that rank songwriters by both readers and critics and one where current artists offer their own assessments of other artists, such as an Article on Bruce Springsteen written by Jackson Browne and an article on the Rolling Stones written by Steven Van Zandt. I am purposely keeping these under wraps for now so as not to prejudice anyone in choosing candidates. Still, as I have stated, I think my strentgh is in classic rock artists from the 60s-early 80s, so I tend to overloook what I know are a lot of good songwriters that just happen to not be of my generation or preferred musical genres.



Since: Dec 13, 2007
Posted on: October 11, 2009 7:43 pm
 

GREAT SOLO SONGWRITERS FORUM - PART 2

It has been WAY too long since I last commented in here.
But i will have you know that I have read all of the wonderful posts in here. Fans has been especially busy in here and I appreciate all of your time and effort.
Of course this blog has been part of the reason that I have been missing from a lot of the threads because I have sopent so much time READING, leaving very little time for posting.

I can only say that I personally love all of the artists that you have recently covered -especially that Sumner guy.
Ten Summoner's Tales remains one of my all time favorite albums by anyone. So many great songs on there - and none of them were ever ruined by being overplayed on the radio. (These days it seems that NO good songs are overplayed on the radio).

I also really enjoyed the discussion about Sultans of Swing. I guess we'll never know for sure who Guitar George and Harry are.



Since: Mar 20, 2008
Posted on: October 11, 2009 11:47 am
 

GREAT SOLO SONGWRITERS FORUM - PART 2

      
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nbsp;   FLOAT LIKE A BUTTERFLY AND STING


      
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p;   GORDON SUMNER


Better known by his name stage, STING is one of the best songwriters to emerge from the late 70s British music scene. He went from obscurity as a night time musician and daytime grade school teacher to the most recognizable Rock star in the world in an amazingly short period of time. Sting has been awarded 16 Grammys, that’s right, 16 Grammys for his work in movies, as a solo artist and as the principle songwriter for The Police. His background as a working class Brit and his degree in literature give him a command of the language and an everyman  point of view that is both literate and almost mystical to his fans. I’ve read comments that say that if you can’t understand what an artist is saying and you still like it, than that is a great way of measuring how good the artist is. This is particularly true of Sting. Throughout his career, he has referenced literary and historical figures in various songs. Often tongue-in-cheek attitudes in his songs cause you to laugh and ponder what he is talking about at the same time. What other songwriter can make you wonder who St Augustine is, reference Chaucer in his songs, depict the plight of the beheading of King Louis VIIX, and then plainly say that despite what you think, you know ”nothing ‘bout me?” And this all happens on only one album, the sublimely written and performed TEN SUMMONER’S TALES. Sting manages to always write insightful, intelligent lyrics that challenge his listeners without insulting their intelligence. With sales of nearly 100 million records to his credit, he obviously appeals to a broad band of followers. But his cerebral approach does put off people who listen to music but don’t really want to hear anything too taxing. I think that’s why there seems to be no middle ground on Sting. Either you get him or you can’t stand him. His most popular composition is an excellent example. EVERY BREATH YOU TAKE is a very popular wedding song as it seems to be about a very dedicated love, but if you listen closely, you discover that beneath the surface it is actually a menacing song about a stalker and the object of his attention. CANARY IN A COALMINE and MESSAGE IN A BOTTLE are examples of his ability to take everyday sayings, lexicons of our language, and add a twist to them in song and rhyme that requires you to actively think. He is one of the best bass players in the genre of music that he prefers, however hard that is to actually define, a unique interpreter of that instrument and its place in popular music. With the Police, a basic three piece band, Sting brings the bass to the forefront to provide the rhythm allowing Andy Summers to explore some very surreal sonics on guitar. In his solo work, Sting chooses to work with large ensembles of some of the best jazz musicians available. The results are songs that are dense in their arrangements, written in unusual time signatures, often changing time signatures in the same song several times, and layered compositions that are built up piece by piece with individual instruments playing bits of seemingly unrelated musical parts that add up to complete songs. The video of IF YOU LOVE SOMEBODY reflects that this is a conscious decision on Sting’s behalf, a compilation of video clips of individuals layered one over the other as each is featured in the song where each video is a separate recording unto itself but assembled into a montage of movements that is visually interesting, a true parallel to the musical construction of the song itself. Sting has long been an activist and his songs have never shied away from his beliefs or his politics. RUSSIANS is both an overtly political condemnation of Reagan era American politics and an affirmation that underneath our political veneers, everyone is still a human being whose real goal in life is merely to see their children grow up. He doesn’t deny that politics exist or are necessary to everyday life as John Lennon does in IMAGINE. Sting’s world view in the 80’s is more sophisticated that Lennon’s view from the 70’s in that Sting recognizes that countries will always have political differences but that inserting a little common sense into politics and recognizing that everyone is both different and the same simultaneously is a better alternative than banning politics altogether. Sophisticated is an apt word to describe Sting’s works in my opinion, yet he lives in a restored 16th century castle and shuns publicity and the complexity of modern day life in the big city. He is a man who is comfortable in his own skin, sure enough of himself and his beliefs to express them openly in song but self aware enough to realize that his point of view is not necessarily accurate. Songs like SHAPE OF MY HEART and IT’S PROBABLY ME show an introspection and sense of insecurity that belies his success and the optimism of a song like BRAND NEW DAY.  DON’T STAND SO CLOSE TO ME, maybe the definitive song of forbidden lust, is a minor masterpiece in the sense of foreboding it exudes musically in unison with the truly macabre lyrics. The biggest irony is that Sting may well be exposing own repressed feelings as he was a schoolteacher.

Wet bus stop, she's waiting
His car is warm and dry

These deceptively short and simple words convey an image as visual as any movie. This is the true genius of Sting’s songwriting, his ability to depict the reality of everyday events so simply without losing the complexity of just getting thru each day without disastrous results. He never talks down to us, never dumbs his songs down to appeal to a broader audience, yet he still finds a commonality in what he envisions in his minds eye that takes us all to the same place. His musicianship is underrated as he is accomplished on a variety of instruments, from the bass guitar he usually plays, to beautiful acoustic guitar phrasings, to recording whole songs on the lyre, an instrument that only a handful of people have mastered in present day life. I give Sting very high marks for his ambitious aim, his intelligent yet literate lyrics, his original use of melody and song construction, and his ability to remain in touch with the common man while aspiring to enlighten us all to the things only someone with his means is able to observe. I don’t know if I rank him in my ten best ever British songwriter, but he is my favorite and most significant songwriter of the post 70s rock and roll music movement. He still makes moving, relevant music and deserves consideration as one of the best songwriters of his generation.


Lay my head on the surgeon's table
Take my fingerprints if you are able
Pick my brains pick my pockets
Steal my eyeballs and come back for the sockets
Run every kind of test from A to Z
And you'll still know nothing 'bout me

Run my name though your computer
Mention me in passing to your college tutor
Check my records check my facts
Check if I paid my income tax
Pore over everything in my C.V.
But you'll still know nothing 'bout me
You'll still know nothing 'bout me

You don't need to read no books on my history
I'm a simple man, it's no big mystery
In the cold weather, a hand needs a glove
At times like this, a lonely man like me needs love

Search my house with a fine tooth comb
Turn over everything 'cause I won't be at home
Set up your microscope and tell me what you see
You'll still know nothing 'bout me






Since: Jan 22, 2007
Posted on: October 10, 2009 2:07 pm
 

GREAT SOLO SONGWRITERS FORUM - PART 2

The first song Cat Stevens wrote that was a hit for another group might be "Here Comes My Baby," by the Tremeloes in 1967. I've heard Cat Stevens version of that song, and it sounded more like the Tremeloes than Stevens, at least the Stevens we came to know in the early 1970s. He hadn't quite developed the singer-songwriter persona yet.
I was in college when Wild World first came out, and I got hooked right away. He was getting airplay everwhere - A.M., FM and college stations. By the mid 70s he seemed to fade out, at least commercially, and it was too bad that the radio stations overreacted (to say the least) by not playing his songs after the whole Salman Rushdie flap. It deprived a lot of young listeners to appreciate him.

When I first heard Donovan's Catch the Wind, it sounded like a corny impression of Dylan. But then he left his folk roots and took kind of light psychedelic approach with "Wear Your Love Like Heaven."  I didn;t really like him until I heard Sunshine Superman, Then he got a little goofy with stuff like "There is a Mountain" and "I Love My Shirt' and then went heavy with Hurdy Gurdy Man. Atlantis was just way to repititious (way down. below the ocean). But when all is said and done, Donovan deserves his rightful place as a singer/songwriter. He maybe was an original chameleon, able to take different approaches within a short time. Heck, today, in the corporate world, you can sound the same for 10-15 years and as long as you sell, it doesn't matter to the bosses.    

   



Since: Mar 20, 2008
Posted on: October 9, 2009 4:20 pm
 

GREAT SOLO SONGWRITERS FORUM - PART 2

      
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; ON THE ROAD TO FIND OUT

      
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;   CAT STEVENS/YUSUF ISLAM

I have to confess up front that despite my fascination with the hard rock of Deep Purple, CCR, Grand Funk and other bands of the early 70s, my favorite singer/songwriter from this period was actually Cat Stevens. Perhaps it is because I can play so many  of his songs on guitar, although I can’t begin to approach the wonderful runs and musical additions to his songs made by Alun Davies, long time recording associate and acoustic guitarist master. Perhaps it is the introspection of his songs that followed his near death experience from tuberculosis at the age of 19. Perhaps it is his raspy baritone voice that is close to mine in its range that enables me to sing his songs and experience those wonderful, thoughtful lyrics. Perhaps I was just the right age and temperment to identify with his peaceful philosophy in the early 70s. Whatever the reason, for a brief period of less than ten years, Cat Stevens was arguably the best and most successful acoustic singer/songwriter in the world. Everyone knows his popular songs, PEACE TRAIN, MOONSHADOW, MORNING HAS BROKEN, OH VERY YOUNG, and WILD WORLD among others, it is my opinion that his best work is reflected by the introspective peacefulness of many of his album cuts that softly, gently nudge you to think about the most basic of philosophical questions, “what is the meaning of life?” Songs like ON THE ROAD TO FIND OUT, INTO WHITE, WHERE DO THE CHILDREN PLAY, and FATHER AND SON openly seek the most basic meanings of everyday life, from legacy to parental relationships, very heady stuff from an artist not yet thirty years old. Then at the top of his game, something unthinkable would happen and Cat Stevens would disappear from public life.

Cat Stevens drowned off Malibu 30 years ago, 1976. Rest in peace. The day he passed away, a sodden, transformed figure somehow hauled himself from rough surf and collapsed on the California sand. Minutes before, swept away by a capricious rip tide, that struggling swimmer promised the wild blue sky he would dedicate his life to God were he spared from drowning. The lucky man who emerged dripping from the foam became, in time, Yusuf Islam, son of Mohammed. Formerly a famous pop star named Cat Stevens, Yusuf Islam marked the effective end of a brilliant 12-year recording career—40 million albums sold, 12 popular releases plus many anthologies and a memorable soundtrack to Harold and Maude. And for a few magical years, for fans like me, Cat Stevens was the greatest musician in the world. It wasn’t the first changeover for Stevens, who began life in London as Stephen Demetre Georgiou, Greek and Swedish by ancestry and gifted with the fresh timings and rhythms of each heritage. Stevens crafted songs limned in mysticism, able in a twinkling to carry off a listener to fantastic aural landscapes—Katmandu or Moonshadow-Land or a place where a tillerman sipped tea with the woman who made the rain come. Wild World-ly places where Peace Trains ran on time and Longer Boats pushed ashore, where aggrieved men growled out haunting, soul-searching ballads—“How Can I Tell You?” and “Into White” and “Where Do The Children Play?” Yusuf Islam also put an end to his predecessor’s skepticism about the whole pop-star scene, an undercurrent always tugging at Cat Stevens’ work… and, clearly, his soul. Maybe Stevens was really drowning all along—in the celebrity and flashbulbs and starfucking. I saw him perform in 1972 at The Omni in Atlanta, the first event ever held in that colossal concert space, a seat miles away from tiny figures on a distant stage. The first concert words ever uttered in that arena may have held a clue to the conversion that always ticked away inside Stevens… to his whole overwhelmed, drowning soul in the treacherous currents of pop stardom. “Shit!” Cat Stevens gasped. “It’s big!” Charles McNair

That article that I found researching this seems appropriate. In a sense, Cat Stevens really did die and was replaced by the man we now know as YUSUF ISLAM, who has resumed his recording career. Since his conversion, Yusuf has received many humanitarian awards for his charity work, been falsely libeled for his religious beliefs, and continued to preach his message of world wide peace. For all his success as a musician named Cat Stevens, his contributions to humankind are probably greater as Yusuf Islam. Like DONOVAN, I think that the briefness and timing of his career and life choices have caused him to be vastly underrated as a songwriter. He has twice been awarded Songwriter of the year for other artist’s versions of the song THE FIRST CUT IS THE DEEPEST.  I rank Cat Stevens between 10 and 20 on my list of best British songwriters only because he could have written so many more songs than he actually did.  R.I.P. CAT STEVENS, long live Yusuf Islam.






Since: Mar 20, 2008
Posted on: October 8, 2009 4:24 pm
 

GREAT SOLO SONGWRITERS FORUM - PART 2

      
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sp;     SUPERMAN OR GREEN LANTERN AIN’T GOT NOTHING ON ME


      
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p;                DONOVAN LEITCH

Dononvan is vastly underrated as a songwriter by anyone under the age of 50. He was one of the first and most successful singer/songwriters in the mold of Bob Dylan to emerge from England in the mid 60s. With Dylan’s with drawl  from the music scene following his motorcycle accident, Donovan was probably the most successful and influential solo performer/songwriter from 1966-1970. He sold well over 100 million records, had multiple top five hits and played to sold out stadiums all over the world. Donovan truly embraced and reflected the peace movement and was a true spokesman for the generation of the “flower power” movement. However, his artistic accomplishments were largely lost as he didn’t transition well into the harder rock trends of the 70s and it’s electric guitar domination. But in the late 60s, Donovan was everywhere, on TV, on the radios, the only outsider to collaborate as a songwriter with the Beatles, friend and companion to Brian Jones, Paul McCartney and John Lennon. His influence on the Beatles is reflected in songs like DEAR PRUDENCE, ALL YOU NEED IS LOVE(where he appears in the worldwide satellite TV transmission) and BLACKBIRD, all songs recorded after he taught Paul and John the “claw and hammer” method of guitar finger picking. Many of his songs were recorded with the most accomplished musicians of his era. HURDY GURDY MAN is a prime example as he is backed up by the members of Led Zeppelin without Robert Plant. Paul McCartney appears on several of his recordings, such as MELLOW YELLOW. ATLANTIS and BARABAJAGEL are recorded with the Jeff Beck Band backing him up. Donovan’s early songs were a chronicle of the psychedelic era reflected in the lyrics of SUNSHINE SUPERMAN, MELLOW YELLOW, JENNIFER JUNIPER(a pean to Jennifer Asher, sister to Jane Asher, Paul McCartney’s girlfriend at the time) and others. Later in his career, he took a stance opposing the use of drugs and began making children’s records. Donovan has continued to tour occasionally and record sporadically with little notice, which is unfortunate for all of us. His best songs have a timelessness like SEASON OF THE WITCH(one of the few songs on which he played an electric guitar) and FIRST THERE IS A MOUNTAIN which would translate well if recorded today instead of forty years ago. Yet, he will forever be placed in the framework of the hippie culture of the late 60s, even if he was the leader and not just a follower of his generation. Donovan, to me, is a modern day version of the medieval troubadour, a singer/storyteller/chronicler/songw

riter who reflects his surroundings as surely as a mirror. The briefness of his success, if you consider 6 to 7 years brief is offset by his uniqueness and ability to stand alone as an artist at a time when groups were the dominant species. I can’t rank Donovan as highly as his talent deserves just because he has not sustained the long success achieved by the most elite of writers, but I do think he deserves consideration for his place in rock history. I have him in my top twenty, a real shame considering that I would have him in my top five were this discussion limited to 1965-1975.



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