Donovan Celebrates Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Induction at Intimate Show with Deepak Chopra
Iconic folk singer Donovan celebrated his recent induction into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame with an extremely intimate show at New York’s ABC Carpet and Home last night. According to the songwriter’s spokesman, it will be his only US concert timed with his induction. The evening also doubled as a release party for Donovan’s new greatest hits album and was webcast live.
Indian-born spiritual adviser and author Deepak Chopra introduced Donovan by reminiscing about the first time they met during their famous trip the singer/songwriter took to India in 1968 with The Beatles, The Beach Boys’ Mike Love and others to meet Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. Sitting with his legs crossed on a sofa, Donovan then offered a 30-minute solo acoustic set peppered with hits like “Yellow Mellow” and “There is a Mountain.” He also gave his wife credit for choosing the concert’s location.
After Donovan finished playing, Chopra spoke for a few minutes before welcoming him back to the stage for the Q-and-A portion of the event. He talked of “qualia,”which are qualities of being. “We are not in the world, the word is in us,” he said, stressing that we create everything in our mind. He asked everyone in the room to be silent, then said, “Listen to who’s listening and what you hear is your soul — and that is your ticket to freedom.” He mentioned meditation and his time spent with the guru Maharishi in India in the 1960s, who also met with The Beatles, Donovan and the Grateful Dead at various times. “The music is the message,” said Donovan. “When you are at peace, people around you feel at peace,” Chopra added. He also mentioned his friends The Beach Boys who are still meditating and teaching others.
Chopra asked Donovan about his collaborative work with Paul McCartney and The Beatles on “Yellow Submarine.” Then Donovan played several lines of the title track from that album. He discussed how he was with McCartney as he developed some of the lyrics for that song. “Eleanor Rigby” was originally called “Ola Na Tungee” and about a male character in a book he was reading. Donovan recommended he changed this. He played other parts of songs from the album as the audience sang along. “We were isolated and Yellow Submarine was the life we were living and the only place we could come together,” Donovan said. McCartney needed help finishing the song and Donovan helped him write the lyrics “Sky of blue and sea of green in a yellow submarine.” He talked about more of his experiences with The Beatles and The Rolling Stones and said, “We were targeted for freedom of expression. There was great resistance,” he said. “And now these ideas are finally being accepted and applied because they work.” He also noted that Maharishi referred to the Grateful Dead as “saints.”
Chopra noted that the phrase “flower power” was first coined after one of Donovan’s concerts, as it is a symbol of awakening in the Eastern culture. Both touched on the Occupy Wall Street protest march that was happening outside in nearby Union Square just before this very event, on May Day. Donovan said that when he walked outside of the venue he felt “a great rush of enthusiasm. If you’re going to do it again, do it often,” he said, referring to the current protests.
Donovan played part of “Something” and began discussing how he taught McCartney and the other Beatles how to do finger styling and certain chords. At the time, they were not familiar with blues, jazz, classical and flamenco style chord progressions, Donovan said. After learning these, John Lennon wrote “Dear Prudence,” George Harrison wrote “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” and McCartney wrote “Blackbird.” He played short segments of each of these to demonstrate. Chopra noted the adage, “when the student is ready, the teacher will appear.”
In closing, Chopra noted that Donovan had 11 consecutive hits between 1966 and 1969. When asked “What does Donovan want to do?” He responded by sing-speaking, “I want to teach the world to sing in perfect harmony.” When asked “Who is Donovan?” He said, “A reincarnated bard from the Celtic tradition,” and mentioned that he came here tonight “to celebrate the terrestrial award [of being inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame] and to celebrate the journey to discover self-awareness. And that is what we did.”