Donovan has released a collaboration with David Gilmour, “Rock Me,” in anticipation of a new album, “Gaelia,” set to arrive one week from today. Variety is hosting the exclusive premiere of the music video for the historic meet-up.
Donovan, famous for classic 1960s folk-rock songs like “Hurdy Gurdy Man,” told Variety how he came to have the Pink Floyd singer-guitarist on two tracks — the second of which is titled “Lover O’ Lover” — for the new album.
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“I met up with David at Lord Michael and Lady Marina Cowdray’s country estate,” he says. “These two dear, noble friends of Linda and mine were holding amazing salons where the most futuristic creatives in music and awareness would gather. Soon Linda and I were headed with Michael and Marina and His Holiness the Tibetan Gylwang Drukpa of Ladakh up into the Himalayas to found a school in Ladakh. But back to the salon.
“That night at Marina’s,” he continues, “David and I chatted about how he had bought my cottage in the ’60s when I married Linda and moved on. Why, I asked? He said my album track ‘Three Kingfishers,’ off my ‘Sunshine Superman’ album of 1966, had launched him in a celestial music direction, and so when I was selling my cottage, where so many of my songs were written, he wanted to be in my creative space. Makes sense in a Floyd sort of way,” he notes.
“David had already learned to fly (he wrote a song about it, too ) and flew himself in to Ireland for the session. David brought his guitar roadie, who set up two amps in the studio, handed David his pink Strat, and his unique signature sound enthralled us all.”
Donovan further describes the single as “another acoustic-rock fusion of mine, which opens acoustic, like ‘Hurdy Gurdy Man,’ then morphs into power guitar. It is said that Jimmy Page took note when John Paul Jones and I made the ‘Hurdy Gurdy Man’ recording, and soon a session guys band was born,” he notes, referring to Led Zeppelin.
“Gaeilia” is an album populated by a cast of musicians that Donovan describes as “my traditional Irish music friends, and two guests from England,” i.e., co-producer Nigel Kennedy and Gilmour. “Yet,” he points out, “Kennedy is of course a Gaelic name, and Gilmour is an anglicization of the Gaelic names ‘MacGille Mhoire’ (Scotland), or ‘MacGiolla Mhuire’ (Ireland).”
The singer-songwriter is boldly confident about what he has achieved with the album. “The fusion of my Gaelic roots styles with my poetry and melodic composition, signature finger-style guitar phrasing, classical gypsy strings, vocal emoting and Gaelic rock is a complete success for me,” Donovan self-attests. “I have fulfilled my service again, as a living shaman poet. All the guests, and Dan Fitzgerald, my co-producer, excelled, enhancing the songs with their superlative talents and great respect for all I have achieved in bringing worldwide appreciation for our Gaelic tradition.”
Donovan is teasing possible tour dates after recently doing a couple of shows.
“I did return to two concerts in Cork County this year to thank the Cork people and Cork City Mayor for making Linda and I honorary Corkonians, joining Jeremy Irons, who told me he began on the street busking, singing my songs, and Michael Flatley and Sir David Putnam, old friend and producer of my first acting role in ‘The Pied Piper of Hamlyn.’ All we three are long-time residents of the beautiful county, Cork, Ireland.
“Following the two ‘thank you’ concerts,” he says, “I will do more in Ireland in the spring of 2023, and if my fans want, who knows, maybe beyond.”
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