Thursday, January 24, 2013

A DONOVAN Tribute by Jimmy Christian Blue / Jimmy Stanley

''I suppose I could start by saying I first learned to sing at the age of 3 singing in front of old jukeboxes while people put their money in to hear the hits of the day. So I developed an interest in music at a young age. When I was 5 years old, I recall how my brother, a keen old vinyl record collector, came home one day with an EP and told me it was a guy called 'Donovan'. I didn't know who this mysterious Donovan was but instantly became a fan of his music when he put the EP on the turntable. Universal Soldier was the first track I remember hearing and I just knew this guy had something and was on a different track from the rest of the singer/songwriters I had heard. His guitar style...very unique voice.. and the ability to bond with a younger listener like me and older listeners like my brother, who had also taken up guitar himself, and surprisingly my parents liked him too. They were trademarks of this guy's ability to communicate with people of all ages.

Throughout the years ever since, I have always admired Donovan's songs, and the effortless way he can conjure up a mood or atmosphere just by playing his guitar and singing. He can transport you to a another beautiful time and place when listening to his albums. Particularly my 2 favourites, the Celtic/Folk/pop of Fairytale, with excellent other-wordly beautiful haunting tracks like Jersey Thursday and Summer Day Reflection Song. Then the multi-influenced Sunshine Superman album, which was, to be fair, many years ahead of it's time.

I have three brothers, and my eldest brother became a keen folk/ bluegrass musician around the time I first heard Donovan. I suppose in many ways, I could relate to Donovan that much easier because of the familiar Celtic strains in the music. I began to teach myself the guitar and learned the chords and claw-hammer style to his songs by listening intently to the records and CDs later.

I started writing songs when I was about 11. A lot were influenced by Donovan and some by the 60s artists like The Beatles, Monkees and Jimi Hendrix. To me, music of today has the legacy of the 60s to thank for all it's many different genres and styles.

Insight is a fascinating thing, and as a songwriter I used this gift to great effect when I put together my album Dedications last year.

I had already written many songs and wanted to make an album. I then had the offer to join Tunecore, who were offering the chance to make a download album for a few dollars and distribute it out to the masses via Amazon, Itunes, Zunes, Spotify and a few others.

I took up this exciting offer and wondered what I should call the album. It wasn't till then, I made an extraordinary discovery about my writing. Almost all the songs I had written in the 10 years since I had been recording at home, were all sort of salute songs. In other words, I wrote biographical songs about people I admired in my life. They weren't just luminaries, or household names, but people I had grown up with or my family. So, the answer on what to call the album was literally right in front of my eyes. So I decided on the name DEDICATIONS as that's what it was all about. All the tracks and instruments were written, produced, arranged and performed by yours truly also.  An album of dedications to people I knew or stars I had always admired in the music business. The Jimmy Christian Blue tag was just an eye-catching name to call myself and to possibly help sell my music better, although I realized Jimmy Stanley isn't all that bad after all, and the Jimmy CB was just for that one album. I have since reverted to my trusty original name.

The song Donovan Dreams is also featured on the new album DEDICATIONS. It's a biographical song about Donovan, as you would expect, and it's influenced quite heavily by the great man's style of vibrato singing and guitar-playing. It features a 12-string acoustic, original Hofner Beatles bass, and light percussion. I find that you need to find at least a few of the key elements to any performer's sound if you are going to write and produce a song about them. That was the task I set myself for DEDICATIONS. So all the tracks you hear are influenced in some way by the artists concerned and by the music that inspired them. When writing about people I grew up with, the influences are a bit more across the board from ELO to The Beach Boys, to Queen, depending on the subject's favorite artists. I like to diversify with my music as much as I can. It keeps me on my toes musically.
Like many other Donovan fans, I felt that his indoctrination into the Rock n' Roll hall of fame was long, long overdue. I was thrilled when I heard the news around January 2011. So that was the moment of inspiration for the song Donovan Dreams.

Jimmy's Dedication's album is available digitally on Amazon.
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