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*6.26-WEAR YOUR LOVE LIKE HEAVEN (Donovan)

Donovan

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Color sky Prussian blue.
Scarlet fleece changes hue.
Crimson ball sinks from view.

     Wear your love like heaven. (3x)

          Lord, kiss me once more.
          Fill me with song!
          Allah, kiss me once more
          That I may, that I may

     [Refrain (2x)]

Color sky Havana lake.
Color sky rose carthame,
Alizarin crimson.

     [Refrain (3x)]

          [Chorus]

     [Refrain (2x)]

Cannot believe what I see-
All I have wished for will be-
All our race proud and free.

     [Refrain (3x)]

          [Chorus]

     [Refrain (2x)]

Carmine, carmine…


I end this section, when psychedelic music was at the height of fashion, with what I consider among the most typical of psychedelic songs. Wear Your Love Like Heaven is something like the anthem All You Need is Love by the Beatles, but introducing an extra religious dimension that would become a fashion during the next three years or so in popular music. I think I’d be right in saying this record is the first on the pop charts to sing praises to Allah. Given Donovan’s association with the Buddhist traditions of the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, this song to Allah suggests a syncretism that would in 1970 be more fully expressed in George Harrison’s My Sweet Lord. The song enjoyed moderate success on the radio in late 1967 and early 1968, but has remained in public memory longer than its position on the charts would suggest.

Most of From a Flower to a Garden was produced by Donovan, and it has stripped-down tracks that give the album set as a whole a feel of authenticity. However, Mickie Most did produce the single Wear Your Love Like Heaven. It sounds more psychedelic than the rest of the album due to the more complex production values, led by an organ that has been manipulated to sound ethereally distant, sometimes sounding like a mellotron’s synthetic flute, as if drawn from the Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. The use of a xylophone in the choruses adds a further exotic touch. Mickie Most had a long production relationship with Donovan, beginning spectacularly with the album Sunshine Superman, and was the producer of most of his singles in the 1960s. I’m not sure if Heaven was originally conceived as part of the Flower to a Garden box set. One source claims that the song was recorded in late 1966, but given the religious overtones of its lyric, I doubt it.

The lyrics of Wear Your Love Like Heaven seem to celebrate a painterly view of a sunset, using a specific vocabulary for various pigments. The intensity of colors brings with it an element of LSD heightened awareness, as celebrated by many a colorful psychedelic song (She’s a Rainbow by the Rolling Stones, Maker by the Hollies, and Tales of Brave Ulysses by Cream, for example.). But in Heaven, Donovan suggests his artistic temperament has been brought about through heightened spirituality rather than drugs. The tone of the song expresses an awe many of us have felt in front of a magnificent sunset, particularly as it crosses below the horizon (as on the beach) where we can watch the “crimson ball sink from view”. It is understandable that this light show could bring one to praise its Creator. The prophecy the poet sees in the spectacle, expressed in the third verse, that “all our race [will be] proud and free” is not so apparent to logic. How does oncoming night reassure for the future? It is perhaps in holding the memory of the evening splendors that the poet can hope for another day after nightfall, the fulfillment of a divine promise that the sun will rise again. Given the syncretic tone of the verses, we should imagine by “race” that the poet means “human race”. Donovan hopes for a brighter future for us all as 1967 comes to end. But many of the songs to come in the following year will start to set a more somber tone.

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