September 20, 2016
By Michael Insuaste
Photos by Michael Insuaste
Sunshine Superman Tour Hits Solo @ Majestic Theatre
The return of sixties icon Donovan Leitch had a small impact with a great embrace as he brought his 50th Anniversary Retrospective Sunshine Superman Tour to the walls of the fabulous Majestic Theatre in downtown Dallas.
As the lights dimmed and a soft applause arise from the crowd, appeared an aged, long haired artist simply known to the music world as Donovan. In true hippie fashion, on tour with a single guitar, white fluffy rug and a few pillows as he literally sat on the one foot platform stage where he conducted a two part 45 minute set of solo hits and obscure numbers from his record catalog.
Beginning with his timeless number one tune "Catch The Wind" from his debut LP that was released in 1966, the show kicked off as smooth as the wind itself. No fancy lights, no fancy props, not even a fancy guitar but a real down to earth artist playing his music for his aging fans. A peaceful and quiet silence throughout the venue as he begin the show.
Donovan, with his English accent and sharp wit, amused the fans with story telling from his past years as he led into the songs that followed. He reminisced about his days as a young solo artist in a time where no radio station would play his or many of the contemporary artist of the days music, and how Pirate Radio were the ones who gave many their chance to be heard. He expressed how the BBC refused to play the English rock sound but soon had no choice as the youth demanded the music which kicked off the British Invasion soon to hit the American air waves!
One of the great stories Donovan told was how in the summer of 1966, Paul McCartney, a friend on the scene, knocked on his door, standing there wearing his casual 2pc suit, t-shirt and guitar in hand, asking Donovan "Whatcha doing man!"... "Writing songs Paul" replied Donovan. They both sat around sharing new song ideas when Paul shared a new number he was working on, no title, a little ditty he was fooling around with. He ask Donovan to help him with a line or two, so he obliged. Donovan broke away for awhile into the bathroom alone, then returned and played a line he came up with and it went like this... "As we live a life of ease... Every one of us has all we need... Sky of blue and sea of green... In our yellow submarine"... years later he was invited to the premier of the movie "Yellow Submarine"... and the rest was history!
Of course the show was filled with many if not all of his hit songs like; "Jennifer, Juniper," "There Is a Mountain," to name a few and one of my favorites "Hurdy Gurdy Man" and his classic "Atlantis." But between the hits were the not so familiar songs, as even Donovan acknowledge might surprise many in the audience. But that didn't matter, the fans loved everyone!
The show ended with his two biggest commercial success "Sunshine Superman" and the classic "Mellow Yellow" where he told the story behind the song lyrics. Apparently a rumor was started by another sixties icon, Country Joe McDonald, that if you take banana skins, dry them up and smoke them, you would get high! Well, it became a craze among some hippies of the day, but NO, you cannot get high from dried up banana skins. Hearing the story, Donovan came up and wrote "Mellow Yellow" which today has hidden meaning of a sexual nature and promiscuous presumption.
There is no doubt the music from artists like Donovan and many of the musicians of the sixties, have laid down timeless songs that still has life today among their aging and new fans as well. I notice several youngsters in the audience at the show who are now appreciating the magic of yesteryear. Simplistic but a solid performance by one of the best singer songwriters of the sixties generation... A Donovan Retrospective indeed!.
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