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9.17-TEAS (Donovan)

Donovan

LISTEN

I strolled into a deserted seaside café
All on a winter's day.
I ordered up a cup of rich brown steamy tea
From an old lady.

        What happened to ya? Man, you used to be so free!

Now all you do is sit and dream of a figure green
By a mountain stream.

I strolled into a deserted seaside café
All on a winter's day.
I ordered up a cup of rich brown memories,
Sat and I watched the sea.

        [Refrain]

When you were as a mountain stream following a dream
Following a dream.

        What happened to ya ? [2x as Coda]


Teas is the final cut of The Hurdy Gurdy Man album. Backed by a percussive piano, the lyrics paint a scene of the poet sitting alone in dreary place, drinking cups of tea to warm up, and daydreaming about the recent past. (The song is reported to have been recorded just three months after the Summer of Love.) Because of the extreme reflectiveness of the mood, the “you” in this instance is most probably the poet talking to himself. If he is indeed remembering a friend, I imagine it is an ex-hippie, similar to the subject of Hi! It’s Been a Long Time. But this time instead of being dragged, as any hippie should be (as Hi! put it), there are regrets, a longing for the lost freedom of an era too soon passed. Now rather than going with the flow and moving toward fulfillment of a dream, “you” are sitting still and remembering a Summer in the past (a figure green). The tea he drinks brings the warmth that is now missing in the poet’s life. At the very end of the song, the warmth (of the memories? of the tea?) blooms in the form of a muted bittersweet cornet (or a horn that I believe to be a cornet), as if the poet were shaking his head in bewilderment: What happened to ya? The listener is invited to reflect on his or her own changes in the short time since the Summer of Love and try to honestly answer that question. It is a effective conclusion to an album that broods upon the times. With its melancholy mood, it is similar to one of the earliest psychedelic album closers, Caroline, No in the Beach Boys' Pet Sounds.

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