The Observation

Possibly yellow, but not very mellow, Donovan takes a detour into cafe jazz. And he could’ve stayed there quite nicely. Mellow Yellow, the album, is not what the title suggests. It’s a bit bleak, in fact. Ruminative, existential, and infected with jazz piano. (Because nothing says emo like jazz piano.) Not the goofy, twee Donovan we’ve generally come to know and love. Like a lot of rock stars, Donovan went through a period of post success disillusionment, questioning what the heck is the point of even being a rock star if it’s not all the fun it’s cracked up to be. So, like many of his peers, he made an album about the downside of the cool life. If it doesn’t sound like Donovan to see the downside to anything, well, he snapped back to his psychedelic fairy tales soon enough. His next album was the magnum opus A Gift From a Flower to a Garden, which is exactly as starry eyed and full of talking starfish as the name implies. I love it, because nobody bridged the gap between the innocence of the nursery rhyme and the adult world of rock and roll with the grace and sincerity of Donovan. But I know that songs about flowers and baby animals are not for everybody. For those people, Mellow Yellow is the Donovan album I would recommend, being wholly adult and steeped in the reality of the cold morning after.


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