Here’s an important safety tip: If you mention Donovan even once in a public forum, you’ll draw all the Donovoids out of the shadows. I had no idea I knew so many people who responsibly enjoy the music of Donovan. So here’s the last thing I’m going to write about this guy: He’s the male version of Melanie!

The parallels between the two are probably refutable. They were born a year and an ocean apart. Their mono names each have three syllables. They were earnest folk singers before they became bell-ringing hippies. Melanie played at Woodstock. Donovan played at the 2008 Woodstock Film Festival. Their hit songs are mostly silly. But they each produced one magnificent musical artifact of the 1960s: Donovan’s “Season of the Witch” and Melanie’s “Lay Down (Candles in the Rain).”

Melanie’s song runs to 7 minutes and 40 seconds, dwarfing Donovan’s pace of 4 minutes 50 seconds. But Mike Bloomfield, Al Kooper, and Stephen Stills stretched “Season of the Witch” past 11 minutes. This might mean something. No? OK.

Serious music criticism such as this leads me of course to Achtung! The U2 Studies Journal, which was looking for a copy editor late last year. I would’ve applied, but they are only paying in CDs and concert T-shirts. You can’t even get a date with The Edge. Here’s the ad they ran:

The editors of Achtung! The U2 Studies Journal are seeking volunteer staff members for its online publication debuting in May 2012. Ideal candidates are academics, journalists, professional writers, and independent scholars with a demonstrable record of research, presentation and/or publishing experience in the fine arts, humanities, social sciences, or a related field. It is assumed candidates have at least a general knowledge of U2’s extensive catalogue, history and cultural presence.

Applicants must document a history of collaborative decision making; multitasking; attention to detail; exceptional grammar, mechanics, punctuation, and spelling skills; working on a deadline; exceptional verbal and written communication skills; patience and a sense of humor.

At minimum, a resume is sufficient documentation of qualifications, but an applicant may further elaborate on his or her experience in a cover letter.

I’m working on two essays for Achtung!: “Sunday Bloody Sunday: The Troubled History of Red Sox Weekend Play” and “Where the Streets Have No Name: Honey, We’re Lost.” If they pay me in T-shirts, I hope they’re from the Zooropa tour. Thanks to Number 9 for taking a break from her groundbreaking work on Electrical Banana: The Donovan Studies Journal to share this ad with me. That was particularly generous given that I’m late with the story I promised her, “You’ve Got to Pick Up Every Stitch: Your Mother Doesn’t Live Here.”

Cover of the week
Jazz pianist Ramsey Lewis’ cover of “Oh Happy Day,” a gospel cross-over hit for the Edwin Hawkins Singers in 1969. The following year, EHS backed Melanie on “Lay Down (Candles in the Rain).” Lewis does some fun things with this number.

Birthdays of the week
Happy birthday to Number 9. Play nice or she’ll go home and take ethnomusicology with her. Also to Liz, Duchess of Duct Tape!

Run-DMSteve of the week
I’m back in The Nervous Breakdown. I don’t mention Donovan, either.



  1. mikener says:

    F.Y.I. – The writers of “Son of a Preacher Man” originally offered the song to Aretha Franklin, who turned it down.

  2. Number 9 says:

    Thanks for the birthday wishes, Run-DMSteve! I was going to celebrate with a Donovan orgy but find that I never replaced any of his albums with CDs, so how much of a Donovoid can I really be? Though his music lives on in my musically crowded mind, I have to say that I gave up on him as a performer after a concert in the UCLA basketball arena, where he was introduced by his father, who was a very large man wearing a long white robe and sandals. When he announced that Donovan was taking a break to use the little boys’ room, thousands of little hippie girls began screaming – I could never figure out why. Anyway, looking back, I think I would have been better off obsessing on Dusty Springfield.

    • Run-DMSteve says:

      That’s the best Donovan story I’ve ever heard. Donovan’s Dad, dressed like a prophet, announcing his son’s trip to the loo to the screams of little hippie girls. I like him better already!

      I have a lot of respect for Dusty Springfield. “Son of a Preacher Man” is one helluva song. Her career went off the rails after 1970; she still had that glorious voice, but perhaps she just went out of style. I’ve never listened to her Memphis album, but now that you’ve mentioned her, I will.

      Happy Birthday, Number 9! I now pronounce you non-Donovoid.

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