Not only is my middle name Donovan, I'm a huge Donovan fan. And while I often refer to my Irish-Slovenian hot headed jugulars for those many times when I get p.o.'ed, truth is there is a folk side to me. Not everything's gotta be “Street Fightin' Man” for me, though it took me decades to stop passing over soul ballads when I played my favorite R'n'B dance records.

In reality, as much as I loved Donovan I never spent much time listening to whole Donovan albums. There was one called something about, I don't know, “Farting In the Wind,” or some such overly sensitivity to some mythical Anglo-Irish Western wind. Whatever. The material was sorta substandard. I mean, thanks to Mickie Most, legendary '60s British record producer, it is mostly Donovan's Most-produced hits that slayed me like a dragon: “Mellow Yellow,” “Wear Your Love Like Heaven,” “Eptistle To Dippy,” “There Is A Mountain,” “Jennifer Juniper,” “Lalena,” “Atlantis,” “To Susan On the West Coast Waiting,” “Barabajagal” and one of the heaviest songs ever made, “Hurdy Gurdy Man.”

Thus it was until this past summer when I listened to my first solid Donovan album all the way through--many, many times. The trippy psychedelic foolishness of the folkishness of “Sunshine Superman,” Donovan's third album, knocked me out when it came into the store as part of a used pile one blistering hot day. With the great title hit, it also boasted the equally opaque “Season of the Witch,” which like “Sunshine Superman,” may or may not be about the LSD experience. Or at least it's about life as seen through psychedelic-colored glasses, which I certainly didn't have to hear back in the day to wear my own imaginary 3-D reality spectacles in the tenth grade. Hell, no. Purple microdot, orange sunshine barrels, windowpane, those things came with every Jefferson Airplane album you bought back

then in the summer of folk-rock!

And thus it doubly was in 2014: my own Return of Folk Rock Summer. But without the acid.

Thanks to the Donovan album (he's Scottish, by the way) and a Fred Neil album (who wrote “Everybody's Talkin'” which was used in the movie “Midnight Cowboy”), and a slew of Buffalo Springfield records, I found myself appreciating a past gloriously-faded decade that saw and heard some of the most powerful music ever made as young white musicians on both sides of the Atlantic put their youthful energy into folk and blues, two indigenous art forms just waiting to be exploited by white punks on dope.

Between Superman and Season gracing the beginning of each side, the Donovan album is well supported by eight fine second-string folk-pop songs each augmented with small band backing and with just the right amount of Mickey Most production, which is to say minimal. “Legend of a Girl Child Linda,” “Three King Fishers,” “The Trip,” “Guinevere,” “The Fat Angel,” “Bert's Blues,” “Ferris Wheel” and “Celeste” fill up the rest of the album but they are by no means inconsequential filler. These songs carry Donovan's precious folk essence if not his Scottish-Celtic soul psychedelic fluids. So to speak.

It's a marvelous album. And quite refreshing in the preceding light of the four post-folk barbershop quartet of future billionaires, Crosby, Stills, Nash, Young and Gomer Pyle. Donovan sings with a genuine gentleness no other folkie ever quite equaled. Dylan had too much bite. Neil Young was too emotional, too human. Joan Baez's political overkill made her a candidate for nuking. It was Donovan who seemed like he was most at home with the nymphs and fairies frolicking in the mythical forest glade.

Or maybe I spent too much time in my sixteenth summer frolicking with the working-class maidens in Cleveland's evergreen Emerald Necklace, scoring weed and grass-stained companionship. Donovan was never far from our blanket beneath that summer's teenaged moon.

I'd never really listened much to complete Buffalo Springfield albums. Again, three came through the shop one day: the self-titled, “Again,” and “Last Time Around.” I began putting them on around lunchtime everyday-- I was mildly stunned. A pattern I did for weeks. I'd known the hits--”For What It's Worth,” “Mr. Soul,” “Nowadays Clancy Can't Even Sing,” “Bluebird,” etc. But the shit in between? Bloody marvelous. Everybody in the band was developing, sure, and Neil Young's are almost comically affected (talk about a guy not quite having found his proper 'voice'), all I could think was, "these guys weren't very far behind the Beatles!"

Oh, Christ, I almost forgot: the first Byrds album. Good lord, never listened to that one til the summer of 14. Ridiculous. Everybody was chasing the Beatles back then and coming so damn close.

What can I say? The '60s were brilliant times at times.

The power of the musical '60s revolution came from the distant hills and times of the Appalachian Mountains and the Scottish Highlands. When the hippies were done celebrating as well as destroying their storied decades, it turns out they couldn't destroy their folk foundation. Another brilliant misfit picked it up on the Jersey shore and served it to another generation. From Haight-Ashbury to Asbury, New Jersey--how apropos.




Dear Free Press readers: I'd love to hear what your favorite folk album is. Email the artist and album title with a paragraph describing said music. Actually, I want to extend that to jazz lovers, too, because between my folk hours here at the store I realized as I played it several times per summer month, that I think Horace Silver's “Song For My Father” is my favorite jazz album ever--and this may include all of Coltrane and Miles's output, too. Yes, I think so. So, folks, feel free to write me of your favorite jazz album, if you'd care. Email it to the paper and Michael will forward it to me here at the store. What- you think I'm gonna put my email out there in the public domain? Not bloody likely! But thank you in advance and do please write. I'd love to hear your favorites, either folk or jazz, or both.

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