Donovan’s new song “I Am The Shaman” has a video directed by David Lynch. It’s beautiful & haunting and features a chorus sung backwards. I don’t know if this was Lynch’s idea or Donovan’s, but it has a strange effect and plays well in the dreamlike quality of the song. It’s good to see Donovan still doing his mystical thing at age 75. Remember “The Hurdy Gurdy Man”? That was over 50 years ago. I was 17 and had no idea what he was singing about and no idea what a “Hurdy Gurdy Man” could be. Still, the song stuck with you.
In the intervening years, I found out that a Hurdy Gurdy is a stringed musical instrument which has a rich history dating back to the 11th century. A hand crank rotates a wheel which rubs against the strings producing violin like sounds. It is similar to a bagpipe in that it has drone strings which produce a constant sound under the melodies played. It is hard to imagine one “singing songs of love” against the melancholy sounds it produces, but if anyone could do it, Donovan could.