Donovan Quotes

Produced with help from:
Ivan Kocmarek



All quotes are by Donovan unless stated otherwise.


“Soothed my adolescent dreams of love. The absolute masters of harmony. A single for all time.”

Donovan talking about Cathy's Clown by The Everly Brothers as part of MOJO's `The 100 Greatest Singles of All Time' article.

Source: MOJO magazine; Issue 45 - August 1997, p. 67


... Tucking into an enormous plate of scampi and mushrooms with his faithful, space-cadet roadie Gypsy Dave at his side, DONOVAN casually announces that he is to quit the music scene in just two years time: “I think I could continue for much longer. But I've decided on a deadline of two years, then I intend to travel around the world and just write” ...

Source: New Musical Express - April 1965 and Uncut magazine; Issue 10 - March 1998, p. 19


“Dylan liked Donovan before he even saw him. He liked the idea of Donovan. Of course, when Donovan met him he was very excited and decided to play something for him. Dylan said he liked Catch The Wind, but Donovan said, I've written a new song I wanna play for you. So he played a song called My Darling Tangerine Eyes. And it was to the tune of Mr Tambourine Man! And Dylan was sitting there with this funny look on his face, listening to Mr Tambourine Man with these really weird words, trying to keep a straight face. Then Dylan says, Well, you know, that tune ... I have to admit that I haven't written all the tunes I'm credited with but that happens to be one that I did write! I'm sure Donovan never played the song again!”

D.A. Pennebaker, director of Don't Look Back.

Source: Q magazine; Issue 75 - December 1992, p. 76


“I remember one afternoon at the Savoy. I was shown into a small, dark screening room. I could vaguely see Bob sitting in a chair, so I sat by his feet. No words were spoken. As my eyes became accustomed to the gloom I was aware of other figures in the room; they turned out to be John, Paul, George and Ringo! It was hard when people said I was copying Dylan. It wasn't so much that he created a new sound – he had a new way of looking at life. I was inspired rather than influenced by him in the same way as he was inspired by Woody Guthrie.”

Donovan reminiscing about an encounter with Dylan.

Source: Q magazine; Issue 24 - September 1988, p. 25


“I don't like it. It's sort of country music.”

Donovan is the guest singles reviewer in Melody Maker and doesn't like the song I Got Mine by Downliners Sect.

Source: MOJO magazine; Issue 19 - June 1995, p. 47


“They sounded great to me. The problem was that they'd been hyped as America's answer to The Beatles, and the press was being defensive”

The Byrds play Finsbury Park Astoria with Donovan as support and the NME slam The Byrds' performance - 14th August 1965. Don sticks up for McGuinn and co.

Source: MOJO magazine; Issue 21 - August 1995, p. 44


“Watching Andy [Warhol] operate and seeing Dennis Hopper, Peter Fonda, Donovan, Mick Jagger and all these people coming into The Factory was astonishing. It seemed to be the hub of the universe.”

John Cale talking about his days in The Velvet Underground.

Source: MOJO magazine; Issue 63 - February 1999, p. 56


“Pop is the perfect religious vehicle. It's as if God had come down to earth and seen all the ugliness that was being created and chosen pop to be the great force for love and beauty.”

Some primo Donovan philosophy from an article in Queen magazine in 1967, reprinted in a review of the Four Donovan Originals box set.

Source: MOJO magazine; Issue 14 - January 1995, p. 100


“I went out to India at the same time as them [The Beatles]. One night we were in the Maharishi's room. The Maharishi was sitting on the floor cross-legged, and there was the four Beatles, Mia Farrow, maybe Mike Love of the Beach Boys, and myself, but there was a sort of embarrassed silence for some reason. I think we didn't know quite what we were expected to say or do, because this sort of thing was obviously all very new to us.

To break the mood, John went up to the Maharishi, patted him on the head and said, “There's a good little guru”. It worked. We all laughed. That gesture was very typical of John, because he always said and did exactly what he felt.
Also, while we were out there, I taught John the folk finger-picking style that I had learned, and he then taught it to George. You can hear John use it on the White Album and, while he was still in India, he used it when he was writing Dear Prudence.”

An anecdote from his days in 1968. A form of this can also be heard in his Hurdy Gurdy Man performance from the 1990 live album Donovan Rising.

Source: Q magazine; Issue 111 - December 1995, p. 68,70


“Although I didn't realise it at the time, it's since been pointed out to me that Marc modelled himself visually on me, particularly the curly-haired silhouetted image on my A Gift From A Flower To A Garden album. His The Warlock Of Love poetry book is rich in romantic imagery, with many references to myths and legends, and images from pre-Raphaelite paintings. We both had a quaint Britishness, yet his didn't translate to the States and mine did. Perhaps the audiences there felt he was too derivative.”

Donovan talking about Marc Bolan in MOJO's `The Man Who Would Be King' article by Paul Du Noyer. Here, Donovan is referred to as "London's fragrant Dylan figure." Such respect!

Source: MOJO magazine; Issue 47 - October 1997, p. 40


“Shortly after we arrived, I met Donovan for the first time. He had his gypsy caravan with him and he was staying in that. He bounded up to me full of good cheer, gave me a big hug and said, "John, it's great to see you!" Then he must have sensed that I wasn't responding, so he stepped back and looked again. I had the same sideburns and wire-rimmed glasses and hair colour as John Sebastian, and that's who Don thought I was. Then he said, "Oh, but you're not John ... but you are somebody, aren't you?”

Ray Manzarek (of The Doors) reminiscing about the 1970 Isle of Wight Festival in a Q article (Note: John Sebastian was in The Lovin' Spoonful).


“I supported Donovan at Dingwalls once. He had a joss stick for every song. In fact, he had a joss stick roadie! He's an interesting man. I remember him saying, “People say the '90s are the '60s upside down but in fact they're the '60s in reverse.” That impressed me! This is a magical song – and if you don't like Donovan there's a brilliant version of it by a Canadian singer called Ellen MacEllwaine. His version is on Lady Of The Stars (Epic).”

Beth Orton chooses Season Of The Witch to be on her special tape as part of MOJO's `Hope Taping: Beth's Folk' article. There is a picture of Donovan with the caption: `Donovan: incensed, probably.'

Source: MOJO magazine; Issue 52 - March 1998, p. 63


Nigel Kennedy's played since the age of three. He was trained by Yehudi Menuhin, he became the most successful violinist of his age, and he brought classical music to the masses. And for this he was whipped by the press as much as possible. When you're with him you think you're with a football hooligan, but in fact you're with this extraordinarily delicate, very fine classical player from the English tradition. What he plays now is a good example of the kind of fusion I was going for when I was 17 – classical with jazz and folk, ethnic music, rock'n'roll, blues, everything. Nigel's new album, Kafka, shocked everyone because he opened up with a strong, Hendrix-flavoured electric violin. But after the first track what you got was the most beautiful English parts for vocal and violins and other instruments, which showed that the enfant terrible of classical music, the smasher-up of cars, hadn't really left his English background. He's actually a writer of English classical music. Kafka was underestimated (except in Germany) because it blasts the eardrums straight away. But when it settles down, it's an extraordinary album.”

Donovan talking about his favourite release of 1996 in MOJO's `The Best Thing I've Heard All Year' article.

Source: MOJO magazine; Issue 38 - January 1997, p. 65


“When I was 12 years old the first record I bought was by Donovan, because I really liked Catch The Wind. He had these lyrics printed on the sleeve and I wrote a tune for them: "Precious little do we kiss the sun and drink the rain." That's all I remember of it.”

Neil Finn (of Split Enz and Crowded House fame) is asked "I understand you're a Donovan fan." He laughs and gives this reply.

Source: MOJO magazine; Issue 7 - June 1994


“For references points, imagine Kim Fowley crossed with Donovan – at once vampiric and cherubic. It's a pretty unsettling combination.”

Barney Hoskyns describing Lou Reed. I suppose he means Donovan is cherubic, not vampiric!

Source: MOJO magazine; Issue 28 - March 1996, p. 60


“... and the preposterous Lullaby To Tim (sung in an electronically distorted voice straight from The Daleks Sing Donovan).”

A sentence from a review of The Hollies' album, Evolution by Ed Barrett.

Source: MOJO magazine; Issue 42 - May 1997, p. 32


“... Beck played 20 minutes of vapid, beat-less synthesiser music and recited extended passages of pseudo-spiritual gibberish that was part-Donovan, part-L Ron Hubbard. ...”

A snatch of a review by David Fricke of a piece of performance art by Beck.

Source: Uncut magazine; Issue 14 - July 1998, p. 24


“Unashamedly folk, their songs are as fractured as Nick Drake's and as lyrically sharp as anything that ever came from Morrissey's nib, while singer Stuart Murdoch has a voice that is pitched halfway between Donovan and a church mouse ...”

A snippet taken from Nick Duerden's review of Belle & Sebastian's third album, The Boy With The Arab Strap. B&S are a superb band and I thoroughly recommend checking out their work.

Source: Q magazine; Issue 145 - October 1998, p. 115


“With its rolling harpischord figure, We Live Again, reminded me of Donovan's lovely Sunshine Superman period; in fact, there are suggestions of Season Of The Witch, Celeste and Bert's Blues throughout the album in the way the psychedelic swims with the Eastern and baroque. The most beautiful example is Dead Melodies, another mildly disturbing passing shot through a surreal region where "doldrums are pounding" and nightbirds rot in the trees like apples.”

A bit of a review of Beck's album, Mutations by Jim Irvin.

Source: MOJO magazine; Issue 61 - December 1998, p. 98