All Things Music Plus
at Oct 24, 2014 11:00:01 PM
ON THIS DATE (48 YEARS AGO)
October 24, 1966 – Donovan: "Mellow Yellow" b/w "Sunny South Kensington" (Epic 5-10098) 45 single is released in the US.
"Mellow Yellow" is a song written and recorded by Donovan. It reached No.2 on the U.S. Billboard charts in 1966 and No.8 in the UK in early 1967.
The song was rumored to be about smoking dried banana skins, which was believed to be a hallucinogenic drug in the 1960's, though this aspect of bananas has since been debunked. According to Donovan's notes accompanying the album Donovan's Greatest Hits, the rumor that one could get high from smoking dried banana skins was started by Country Joe McDonald in 1966, and Donovan heard the rumor three weeks before "Mellow Yellow" was released as a single. According to The Rolling Stone Illustrated Encyclopedia of Rock and Roll, he admitted later the song made reference to a vibrator; an "electrical banana" as mentioned in the lyrics. This definition was re-affirmed an interview in NME magazine: "it's about being cool, laid-back, and also the electrical bananas that were appearing on the scene - which were ladies' vibrators."
The phrase "mellow yellow" appears on page 719 of the first American edition of James Joyce's Ulysses, where it is used to refer to Mrs. Marion Bloom's buttocks, but it is not known if Donovan got the phrase from there.
The record had a "Beatlesque" feel to it, and was sometimes mistaken for a Beatles song. Donovan, in fact, was friends with the Beatles. Paul McCartney can be heard as one of the background revelers on this track, but contrary to popular belief, it is not McCartney whispering the "quite rightly" answering lines in the chorus, but rather Donovan himself. Donovan had a small part in coming up with the lyrics for "Yellow Submarine", and McCartney played bass guitar on portions of Donovan's Mellow Yellow album. Jimmy Page, of Led Zeppelin fame, is heard playing the solo on this song.