Hurdy Gurdy Man

Album: Hurdy Gurdy Man (1968)
Charted: 4 5
  • Thrown like a star in my vast sleep
    I opened my eyes to take a peek
    To find that I was by the sea
    Gazing with tranquility

    'Twas then when the Hurdy Gurdy Man
    Came singing songs of love
    Then when the Hurdy Gurdy Man
    Came singing songs of love

    "Hurdy gurdy, hurdy gurdy, hurdy gurdy gurdy" he sang
    "Hurdy gurdy, hurdy gurdy, hurdy gurdy gurdy" he sang
    "Hurdy gurdy, hurdy gurdy, hurdy gurdy gurdy" he sang

    Histories of ages past
    Unenlightened shadows cast
    Down through all eternity
    The crying of humanity

    'Tis then when the Hurdy Gurdy Man
    Comes singing songs of love
    Then when the Hurdy Gurdy Man
    Comes singing songs of love

    "Hurdy gurdy, hurdy gurdy, hurdy gurdy gurdy" he sang
    "Hurdy gurdy, hurdy gurdy, hurdy gurdy, hurdy gurdy, hurdy gurd
    Hurdy gurdy, hurdy gurdy, hurdy gurdy gurdy" he sang

    "Hurdy gurdy, hurdy gurdy, hurdy gurdy gurdy" he sang
    Here comes the Roly Poly Man
    He's singing songs of love
    "Roly poly, roly poly, holy poly poly" he sang
    "Hurdy gurdy, hurdy gurdy, hurdy gurdy gurdy" he sang
    "Hurdy gurdy, hurdy gurdy, hurdy gurdy gurdy" he sang

Comments: 32

  • Anthony Harland from Neath, WalesReference "Donovan's friend George Harrison wrote another verse for this song, but it was never recorded." Actually it was. It's on the live CD recorded in 1984 at Madison Square Garden, New York. Donovan does a very long version of this song where he relates, quite humourously, what was happening with the Maharishi in India. He mentions George Harrison writing a verse and asks the audience do they want to hear it ? You can guess the answer :) This concert has had numerous releases (40 ?) over the years, my UK copy is just called 'Donovan In Concert' (GFS130)
  • Kate from Split, CroatiaI remember hearing that Bobby Kennedy was shot when they cut in on this song playing on the radio to make the announcement. In spite of that, it is a favorite song of mine.
  • Axy from Logansport, InThe B-Hole Surfer's cover is a heavier paced song, which was sampled in Dumb and Dumber (1994) also Howard Stern's band "The Losers" did a cover as well on his XM radio station.
  • Harry White from CaliforniaI think there's some poetic irony with the words hurdy gurdy, which sounds like a fat man, a roly poly man, who hurts others, singing songs of love (perhaps in order to attract his victims). This might be a metaphor for English bands, like the Beatles, who were a part of MI6 and their British Security Coordination promoting LSD to weaken the hippie movement who protested the Viet Nam war in their songs. The Bealtles' involvement was revealed in Sgt. Pepper, Pepper being John Pepper the head of the entire British spy organization in the U.S.
    See Mathis paper on this at http://mileswmathis.com/lennon.pdf
  • Paul from Scottsville, NyDonovan's daughter, Ione Skye, has a small part in the movie "Zodiac." This song opens the movie.
  • Mark from Plymouth, Mn
    About three years ago I John Mellencamp was here in concert. His special guest was Donovan. What an awesome set he did with John's band. The played "Hurdy Gurdy Man" along with other Donovan classics. It was so amazing and unexpected to hear an old favorite song live and Mellencamp's band were spot on with every note and nuance of the song. Oldies gold.
    It was nice to read the post that cleared up who played on this song. Too bad it wasn't Beck. Still sounds like him.
    Still one of my favorite songs. So late 60's.
  • Jason from Mamou, LaIn 1968, I was only 2 years old. Barely capable of expressing any rational speech. Yet I remember Hurdy Gurdy Man. When I heard that song, my spirit connected with the Divine Spirit of The Universe. Only 2 years old, but, I remember that 100% metaphysical experience. I met God at that moment (LOVE) and became one with the UNIVERSE and it's Divine Creator. "hurdy gurdy hurdy gurdy"
  • Nick from Seattle, Albaniajust listen to the drumms, it dosent sound like bonham. he liked technical stuff and tripples and all thats on hurdy gurdy man is rolls. bonham would have done more.
  • Daevid from Glendale, Cadoesn't McCartney play drums on this track?....can anyone tell me?
  • Cornflakes from Bfe, TnBeastie Boys paid homage to this amazing track on their album "Paul's Boutique" by not only mentioning the title in lyrics, but also sampling the (drum) break in "What Comes Around."
  • Robert Campion from Galway, IrelandDoesn't really matter who plyed on or didn't play on this song. (Except to Clem I suppose !!) Sometimes different versions of music are 'overlayed' or overdubbed to get a particular sound. So don't sweat it. Fact of the matter is its a great song with really unique eerie sound (tambura) and works really well on film 'Zodiac'... which is where I first heard it ...immediataely I went out and bought Donovan's Greatest hits ...nice bit of marketing Donovan you clever old hippie :-)
  • Shanti from Claremont, CaDonovan might have said that Jimmy Page played on Hurdy Gurdy man, but Jimmy Page himself says he did not. So, who do you believe?
  • Steven from San Jose, CaThere is a video on YouTube recorded in Liverpool at Beatle's Week 2006 where Donovan says George gave him that Tambura and he (Donovan) played it on the song. Also Donovan says it was Jimmy Page on lead guitar.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qu-18cP4164
    So there must be more than one session recorded.
  • Suchetan from Bangalore, IndiaThis song has also been used as movie soundtrack in many parts in David Fincher's 2007 movie Zodiac starring Jake Gyllenhall.
  • Mark from Twin Cities Metro Area, MoThis is my favorite Donovan song. For years I had heard it was Jimmy Page on lead Guitar. I thought it sounded a lot like Jeff Beck's solo work in the Yardbirds (Mister Your a Better Man Than I, Shapes of Things etc. I heard Page in an interview say "No, it wasn't him". I gor from his answer he knew who it was. I read somewhere it was Jeff Beck. I think I read or heard, with appologize to Mr. Catinni, it was Carman Appice who played drums on the song ( don't know that for a fact, I just read it). There was so much intermingeling back then with Beck, Page, J.P.J., & Micky Most in studio sessions that it seems like almost anything is possible.
    I do know Jones, and Page played on "Beck's Ballero".
    Who ever played on it, it's a great song I never get tired of hearing.
  • Shannon from Sioux Falls, SdThis song is also on Bobby when ashton kutcher,shia labeouf,and brian geraghty characters take LSD
  • Scott from Green Bay, WyI just don't understand why Donovan would say that Bonham, Page and Jones played on this track if they didn't. I mean, we are talking about Donovan! He really doesn't have to make facts up to make himself look better!
  • Konrad from Trinidad & Tobago, Other"Hurdy Gurdy Man" opens the 2007 film ZODIAC, a movie about the notorious killer of the same name. As steph of Ottawa noted with the movie "L.I.E.", it gives the song lyrics an unsettling twist.
  • Cove from Keizer, OrIn donovan's 2005 autobiography, he says about this song that he envisioned hendrix doing it an was gonna give it to hendrix until a manager told him to release it as a single. He tried to get Jimi to play lead but he was off touring, so he got Jimmy Page. donovan's book is interesting you guys should read it tells of advendtures with dylan, the beatles, joan baez, etc.
  • Richard from Sacramento, CaMy apologies to Mr. Cattini,whose drumming on this song I use nearly every day for practicing my rolls, but for all these years I was under the mistaken impression that Mitch Mitchell was the session drummer. You have to admit there is some similarity in the "around the kit" style. Also I had been told at the same time ('68) by my 'very knowledgeable' friend that Jeff Beck was the guitarist, and again, one can understand the confusion, as the style of the lead quite resembles that of Beck's.
  • Fremont from Concord, NhThere are actually two recorded versions of this song. One version had only John Paul Jones on bass, and had much lighter drums, and no electric guitar. The other version of this (the one most people know) does infact have Jimmy Page, John Paul Jones, and John Bonham playing in it. I have never personally heard this lighter version, but I'm sure it's out there somewhere, and I'm sure someone has heard it.
  • Jeff from Sharon, PaThe hurdy-gurdy dates back all they way to the 12th century AD.
    The liner notes on the CD "Donovan's Greatest Hits" say Jimmy Page plays guitar on "Hurdy Gurdy Man."
  • Howard from St. Louis Park, MnThis was Donovan's foray into psychedelia after Mellow Yellow.
  • Kevin from Cincinnati, OhAccording to Donovan,in the book the Ultimate experience.Jimi Hendrix was going to play the solo on the song.but Jimi wasn't around when they recorded,a shame.But still a great song.
  • Jordan from WvThe Butthole Surfers version is really funny!
  • Craig from Dunedin, New ZealandThis slice of psychadelic rock takes me on a personal journey every time!
  • Christopher from Burlington, NcIn regards to the missing George Harrison's lyrics:
    According to his album Donovan: Greatest Hits Live, Vancouver 1986:

    When I wrote this song, I was in India.
    With 4 Beatles, 1 Beach Boy and Mia Farrow.
    We were gathered together one day in Maharishi's bungalow.
    The 4 Beatles, 1 Beach Boy and Mia Farrow.
    There was an embarrassed silence in the room.
    Maharishi sat cross legged upon the floor, on his deerskin
    and John Lennon, the wit and the humorist, he decided to break the silence.
    So he walked up to Maharishi as he sat on the floor, and he patted him on the head and said,
    'There's a good guru.'
    We all laughed, and Maharishi laughed the loudest.
    But later that night we were gathered together on the roofs of our bungalows
    Under the tropical stars while monkies and peacocks and elephants were calling to each other in the jungle.
    And I started to write this song and George Harrison turned to me and he said,
    'I could write a verse for that song, Don.'
    And he did. Would you like to hear George's verse?
    Okay. George he wrote:
    When the truth get's buried deep
    Beneath a thousand years of sleep
    Time demands a turnaround
    And once again the truth is found.
    Yeah,George!
    Awakening the Hurdy Gurdy Man
    Comes singing the songs of love
    Beatles were Hurdy Gurdy Men
    They came singing the songs of love
    I am the Hurdy Gurdy Man
    I come singing the songs of love
    Hurdy gurdy, hurdy gurdy, hurdy gurdy gurdy he sang
    Hurdy gurdy, hurdy gurdy, hurdy gurdy gurdy he sang
    Hurdy gurdy, hurdy gurdy, hurdy gurdy gurdy he sang.


    [verbatim]
    Your friend, Treaghon
  • Clem Cattini from London, EnglandI would like to point out that your wrong info is causing me a lot of embaressment and money .I would be grateful if you would corrct this wrong info Thank You
  • Clem Cattini from London, Englandonce again John Bonham did not play on Hurdy Gurdy Man
  • Ryco from Port Orford, Orare you sure bonham played drums on this cut? i never knew he did session work. could be but ........ i dunno
  • Steph from Ottawa, CanadaFeatured in the movie 'L.I.E.'. This song plays while a child molester roams the streets, hunting for new conquests, which gives the lyrics a very disturbing new meaning.
  • Hugh from Dallas, TxEartha Kitt also recovered a rather campy version of the song.
see more comments

Editor's Picks

Dean Friedman - "Ariel"They're Playing My Song

Dean's saga began with "Ariel," a song about falling in love with a Jewish girl from New Jersey.

Five Rockers Who Rolled With The DevilSong Writing

Just how much did these monsters of rock dabble in the occult?

Tommy JamesSongwriter Interviews

"Mony Mony." "Crimson and Clover." "Draggin' The Line." The hits kept coming for Tommy James, and in a plot line fit for a movie, his record company was controlled by the mafia.

Lace the Music: How LSD Changed Popular MusicSong Writing

Starting in Virginia City, Nevada and rippling out to the Haight-Ashbury, LSD reshaped popular music.

Sam PhillipsSongwriter Interviews

Collaborating with T Bone Burnett, Leslie Phillips changed her name and left her Christian label behind - Robert Plant, who recorded one of her songs on Raising Sand, is a fan.

Who Did It First?Music Quiz

Do you know who recorded the original versions of these ten hit songs?