Album: Donovan's Greatest Hits (1968)
Charted: 33


  • Widely considered to be about a prostitute, Donovan talked about this song at a 2004 event to promote his album Beat Café. He explained that "Lalena" is a composite title made up from the name of the German actress Lotte Lenya, who was the wife of the songwriter Bertolt Brecht, who along with Kurt Weill composed the play The Threepenny Opera, which starred Lenya as the prostitute Jenny Diver. (Listen for Lenya's name in Bobby Darin's version of "Mack The Knife).

    Said Donovan: "I was fascinated with The Threepenny Opera as a socially conscious musical, so when I saw the movie version with Lotte Lenya I thought, OK, she's a streetwalker, but in the history of the world, in all nations women have taken on various roles from priestess to whore to mother to maiden to wife. This guise of sexual power is very prominent, and therein I saw the plight of the character: 'That's your lot in life, Lalena/Can't blame ya, Lalena.' Women have roles thrust upon them and make the best they can out of them, so I'm describing the character Lotte Lenya is playing and a few other women I've seen during my life, but it's a composite character of women who are outcasts on the edge of society: Bohemia."
  • After this song was released, some Americans started naming their daughters "Lalena," which was very rare in previous years. It didn't stick, and a few years the name fell out of favor. If you meet an American "Lalena," she was likely born between 1969-1975.
  • Deep Purple recorded a popular version on their 1969 self-titled album.

Comments: 3

  • Barry from Sauquoit, NyOn September 29th 1968, "Lalena" by Donovan entered Billboard's Hot Top 100 chart at position #73; and on October 27th, 1968 it peaked at #33 {for 2 weeks} and its second week at #33 was it 6th and last week on the Top 100...
    It reached #71 on the Australian Kent Music chart...
    Between 1965 and 1973 the Scottish singer had seventeen Top 100 records; four made the Top 10 with one reaching #1, "Sunshine Superman" for 1 week on August 28th, 1966...
    He just missed having a second #1 when "Mellow Yellow" peaked at #2 {for 3 weeks} on December 4th, 1966...
    Donovan Philips Leitch will celebrate his 69th birthday come next May 10th {2015}.
  • Sara from Silver Spring, MdSince this song was recorded Lalena has been a popular girl's name. There's a Facebook group with that name.
  • Ani from Yerevan, ArmeniaThanks for the info, very interesting. :)

    This song is so beautiful!!
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