Donovan is the eponymous Hurdy Gurdy Man, I’m sure. I listen and move with the wah-pedal and drum beats; I can’t help but sing along as though I’m chanting for the Hurdy Gurdy Man and his spiritual enlightenment.
Donovan tried to get Hendrix to play on the recording but he was on tour and unavailable – so was Jimmy Page who was out of the country touring with The Yardbirds. I don’t think the track needs either of them. The psychedelic twists of Hurdy Gurdy Man is driven by LSD, like so many of that decades counterparts; I’d like to personally thank Donovan for dropping acid and writing one of my favourite songs.
Donovan, who was visited in his dreams by the Hurdy Gurdy Man and his close friend, Roly Poly Man, whispers to us about the songs of love they both sang to him. At the time, Donovan had been in India alongside George Harrison. Interestingly enough, Harrison wrote an additional verse for the song that was not part of the radio version in 1968. As well as that, the tambura which Donovan strums on this record was also given by Harrison. It’s one of my favourite instruments in a song and it’s one of the things that gives this track it’s psychedelic edge. Donovan decided to use his song writing talents to use what Maharishi Mahesh Yogi had been teaching him during his time in India. Our time within the cycle of history hides the basis of life. Suffering of humanity brings on the Hurdy Gurdy Man who has a technique, or is the one who can use his knowledge and skill, to restore balance in life. Whether the skill is singing songs of love, or making sure that there is less suffering and more nurture, kindness and forgiveness in the world – well, I’m sure only the Troubadour really knows the answer to that.
This is an open invitation to the Hurdy Gurdy Man and his sidekick Roly Poly to invade my dreams whenever I’m suffering, and sing that song of love. If Donovan wants to visit too, that’s ok. Make sure you all bring that acid and the tambura; I will wait with open eyes by the sea. I’m ready for the trip