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This was written by John Sebastian, who formed The Lovin' Spoonful with his friend, Zal Yanovsky. Sebastian and Yanovsky were in a group called The Mugwumps, and made a name for themselves playing clubs in Greenwich Village. When the other Mugwumps - Mama Cass Elliot and Denny Doherty - moved to California and formed The Mamas And The Papas, they formed the band and Sebastian began focusing on songwriting. The Lovin' Spoonful started playing electric instruments to get away from the folk music sound and attract a younger contemporary rock audience.
The Lovin' Spoonful played regularly at a famous club called The Night Owl Cafe. Said Sebastian:
"We were playing pretty steadily for the local people from Greenwich Village who were part of the Jazz scene or part of the kind of downtown 'in crowd.' They were 'finger poppers,' guys who played chess, 'beatniks.' But there was this one particular night as we were playing, I looked out in the audience and saw this beautiful 16-year-old girl just dancing the night away. And I remember Zal and I just elbowed each other the entire night because to us that young girl symbolized the fact that our audience was changing, that maybe they had finally found us. I wrote Do You Believe In Magic the next day."
Turning down an offer from Phil Spector because they didn't want to "be swallowed up under his name," The Lovin' Spoonful signed to a new record label called Kama Sutra. This was the first song they recorded for the label, and it was the first of a string of hits for the group, which included "Daydream," "Did You Ever Have To Make Up Your Mind?" and "Summer In The City."
This is a very popular song for advertising campaigns. It has been used in commercials for Mercedes Benz, McDonald's, Burger King, Kohl's, Dash Detergent and the Trump Casino.
This has been featured on the soundtracks to the movies Parent Trap, Disney's Return To Neverland, Gulliver's Travels and One Trick Pony.
In 1978, Shaun Cassidy covered this. Other musicians to record it include David Cassidy, The Turtles, The Chambers Brothers, John Mellencamp and Dion & The Belmonts. Cher also recorded it solo and with Sonny & Cher.
As the '60s drew to a close, The Lovin' Spoonful disbanded and Sebastian started working on a variety of projects. He wrote music for the Care Bear
series, published children's books, made harmonica instruction videos, and was a guest star on the TV show Married With Children
. In 1976, he wrote the theme song to the TV show Welcome Back Kotter
, which was a #1 hit. (Thanks to Carlin America publishing for all above. For more, check out www.carlinamerica.com
In the movie American Pie, Chris "Oz" Ostreicher (Chris Klein) sings a verse of this song when talking to Steve Stifler (Seann William Scott) in the sauna room. (thanks, Jared - Norwalk, OH)
This was used as the theme song to a short-lived US TV series called State Of Grace. The show started in 2001 and was canceled a year later.
In a Songfacts interview, Alan Merrill, who later joined The Arrows and wrote "I Love Rock And Roll
," reveals that he narrowly missed an opportunity to debut with this song: "This was mid-'60s. The Lovin' Spoonful were starting, and Laura Nyro said, 'Why don't you audition for the Lovin' Spoonful? Now you know how to play bass, they're looking for a bass player. But you'd have to quit school.' And I said, 'I don't want to quit school.' So I went over to her house after school one day, and she put this record on, and it was 'Do You Believe In Magic.' She just looked at me and said, 'This is what you didn't go to do.' And I was like, 'Oh, s--t, it's gonna be a #1 record. I blew it. I could have been the 14-year-old bass player in the Lovin' Spoonful.'" (Check out our interview with Alan Merrill