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*2.22-CELESTE (Donovan)

Donovan

LISTEN

Here I stand acting
Like a silly clown would.
I don't know why.
Would anybody like to try
The changes I'm going through?
A hidden lie
Would fortify
Something that don't exist.
But it ain't so bad.
I'm just a lad.
So many more things to do.
I intend to come right through them all with you.

My songs are merely dreams
Visiting my mind.
We talk a while
By a crooked style.
You're lucky to catch a few.
There's no magic wand
In a perfumed hand.
It's a pleasure to be true.
In my crystal halls
A feather falls
Being beautiful just for you
But that might not be quite true, that's up to you.

[Break]

Dawn crept in unseen
To find me still awake.
A strange young girl
Sang her songs for me
And left 'fore the day was born.
That dark princess
With saddening jest
She lowered her eyes of woe.
And I felt her sigh.
I wouldn't like to try
The changes she's going through.
But I hope love comes right through them all with you.

[Coda]


Celeste is the closing song on the album Sunshine Superman, and was produced more lushly than most of the record. The lyrics are accompanied by an actual celeste, and on this occasion a predominant harpsichord shines while the sitar is muted. One of the earliest recordings of a mellotron in pop music is in this song, imitating an orchestra. (A mellotron had also been used in the Beatles' Tomorrow Never Knows for more extraordinary effects.)

The poem is a lovely meditation on the creativity of a troubadour, with a tender melody sung with sincerity. There's an acoustic version of Celeste presently available on YouTube, shot in black & white, with Donovan singing shyly alone by the sea. The big Mickey Most arrangement can't drown out the simplicity of feeling Donovan sings in this lyric. In the first verse, Donovan confesses feeling false sometimes in performance, but his joy is in the creativity of making a song. It's not magic, he sings in the second verse, but rather a visit in a dream: We talk a while by a crooked style. You're lucky to catch a few. And then Donovan goes on to offer a feather falling in a crystal hall, an image that wants to give his audience, and thus has to perform. The first and third verses seem to reflect each other, as if the changes the singer is going through are no more difficult than those which his muse has to suffer. Not that the song sounds anything like Bob Dylan, but the sentiment of the refrain is something like Pledging My Time from Dylan’s Blonde on Blonde album. Pledging My Time had offered companionship throughout the album; Donovan in Celeste closes his album, looking back, as if saying “I hope it was good for you.”

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