*2.21-FERRIS WHEEL (Donovan)




Walking in the seashore twilight
It's then you spy carnival lights.
You slowly near the magic sight,
Tangerine sky minus one kite.

        Take time and tie your pretty hair.
        The gypsy driver doesn't care
        If you catch your hair in the ferris wheel on top
        In the ferris wheel on top.

A silver bicycle you shall ride
To bathe your mind in the quiet tide.
Far off as it seems your hair will mend
With a Samson's strength to begin again.

        Take time and dry your pretty eyes,
        Watch the seagull fly far-off skies
        To build its nest in the ferris wheel on top,
        In the ferris wheel on top.

        If ever I return...


And the moral here, if any, my friend:
Follow through your dream to the end.
Dig the seagull fly across the sky
To build its nest in the ferris wheel,
In the ferris wheel.


Donovan's psychedelic music frequently evokes the seashore. The scene of The Ferris Wheel takes place at a fair by the beach. The Ferris wheel is a distinctly modern contraption, as is the silver bicycle which returns in this song from The Fat Angel. Donovan resists his usual impulse to write a medieval scene or to evoke the timeless. And yet the "timeless" is a part of the scene as well, as the seagull builds his nest in the highest part of the structure, ignorant that the top may soon return to the bottom. The conceit of the song is a fantasy that someone with long hair has it torn out by the mechanical wheel, only to see the hair be used for building a bird's nest. The odd allusion to Samson's strength (in a rare Donovan mention of the Bible) suggests that the owner of the long hair is male, a hippie, and might be the singer himself.

The metaphor suggests to me Donovan's knowledge that he was at the peak of his career and that he should make the nest of his future in this fortuitous moment while knowing that the wheel of fortune would continue turning. His "moral here, if any" is that you should follow your dream to the end, even if, after having achieved it, there should follow unanticipated consequences.

Though hand drums, such as bongos, are another fairly consistent element throughout the album Sunshine Superman, they seem to take center stage in The Ferris Wheel. Much of the use of sitar is confined to a three-chord repetitious drone that is echoed in some of the lyric's long notes, although the sitar at times runs up and down Western scales in reference to the circular nature of the Ferris wheel.