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Thursday, June 21, 2012

"Season of the Witch"

Donovan - "Season of the Witch" (1966)

I have no memory of the Nicolas Cage movie of the same name that came out last year.

That hack down on the electric guitar sounds scratchy and scary doesn't it? And the electric organ sitting on that quiet drone just makes it creepier. Donovan's voice gets more insistent and angry as the chorus grows near until he is very nearly begging us for help, the time has drawn neigh and the Season is upon us all.

Donovan was a Scottish folk singer/songwriter who had a lot of success both at home and in America. His "Catch the Wind" from 1965 is a perfect encapsulation of love unrevealed and unrequited. For his third album, he and producer Mickie Most grabbed local musicians to play a more electric version of folk. Instead of continuing to sound like 'Britain's Bob Dylan' (as he often was called) what emerged was early psychedelic rock, including many of the things that would come to be associated with the genre. Namely, impenetrable lyrics and long drawn out instrumental jam style solos. The song, also like Dylan before, was longer than a normal pop song.But Donovan deserves to be remembered as more than just a Dylan follower.

The song is a great example of early psychedelia, and it has been used in media to denote mystic happenings as well as a song of the times. It's been covered many times, to great effect, but my favorites include Dr. John, Lou Rawls, The Strangelings, Joan Jett, and of course Vanilla Fudge.

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