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6.25-THE ENCHANTED GYPSY (Donovan)

Donovan

LISTEN

A day once dawned
As sleepers yawned
A day of leaves so greeny-o
That a man rode high
In the tinker's sky
And begged me to go running-o
And follow the path of the Gypsy-o.

     Seaweed clings to ruby rings
     On the fingers of my lady-o
     And the people in the town
     They would not look round
     To see me go a-running-o
     On the trail of The Enchanted Gypsy-o.

I passed the glade
And took me shade
Beneath an oak so twisty-o
And a vision I saw
As the crow did craw
No more need I go searching-o
On the trail of The Enchanted Gypsy-o.

     [Chorus]

His caravan
Was a-painted by hand
That's touched every pebble in the ocean-o
And the pictures there
They move in thin air
There forever a-telling-o
The tales of The Enchanted Gypsy-o.

     [Chorus]

[Coda]


The Enchanted Gypsy is the one song from For Little Ones that I have included in the Psychedelic Masterworks, and even then, in a supplemental role. The lyrics are much like the rest of the songs on For Little Ones, telling a tale. The poet sings of following the Enchanted Gypsy upon the petition of a “man [who] rode high in the tinker’s sky”, begging him to make the journey down to the seashore from up in the overcast clouds, I imagine. Perhaps this was a mission given the poet from heaven. The chorus begins with the song’s most memorable line, “seaweed clings to ruby rings / on the fingers of my lady-o”, suggesting that the poet’s lover has drowned, and he is grieving. No one in town seems to notice that he has gone running off to find relief in the Gypsy. When he comes upon the Gypsy’s caravan the poet finds it painted with pictures that “move in thin air” as if in the movies. The Gypsy is indeed enchanting, and he seems to have gotten his talent from having “touched every pebble in the ocean-o”. He has touched the bottom of the ocean where his lover lies and his close acquaintance with death gives him the gift of telling tales through his art.

There are better songs on For Little Ones than this one (such as Isle of Islay and Widow with a Shawl); however they don’t express a psychedelic aesthetic as clearly. Enchanted Gypsy picks up on Donovan’s already established gypsy persona, formed during his folkie days, and demonstrates that the drone of Roma music is as good an old root of psychedelia as the East Indian raga. One needn’t travel so far as Asia to find modalities with which to refresh pop music; gypsies had brought these modalities into England a long time ago and played these old tunes still as they traveled around the countryside. A flute swirls playfully around the bass drone, and in the coda, the song moves into double time, accentuated by a tambourine, while Donovan’s voice makes a droning improvisation on the tune.

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