Scottish folk star Donovan released a new single called “I Am The Shaman” that was produced by David Lynch, who also directed the accompanying music video. Twin Peaks: The Return’s sound designer David Hurley mixed the song.
The most unique thing about “I Am The Shaman” is the production. During the chorus, Donovan’s voice and guitar are reversed in a way that makes the vocals still understandable. It’s the same editing as the way that Twin Peaks’ actors speak during the show’s famous Black Lodge sequences. For the verses, Donovan sings clearly but vaguely about a journey through the stars over a choppy guitar part.
Lynch’s video takes Donovan on that journey as the singer stares into the camera and strums his guitar. He’s dressed in shamanic garb, with a necklace of skull-shaped beads that are superimposed in front of him, swinging in a hypnotic pattern in time to the song’s rhythm. The video also collages waves crashing during the down sections and stars shooting past Donovan during the more intense moments, all shot in black-and-white.
“It was all impromptu,” Donovan explains. “I visited the studio and David said, ‘Sit at the mics with your guitar Don.’” He continued, “He had asked me to only bring in a song just emerging, not anywhere near finished. We would see what happens. It happened!”
Donovan said he “composed extempore … the verses came naturally. New chord patterns effortlessly appeared. He added, “On another day David ‘sound sculpted’ my Ferrington acoustic guitar ‘Kelly’ and he played his unique Modal Chord Ferrington Guitar textures with ‘effects’.”
The video was released today, May 10 for Donovan’s 75th birthday, in hopes of raising money to help him “give students TM Meditation.” Transcendental Meditation is a type of meditation that is taught to students one-on-one. Lynch is another major proponent of it, and organized a livestream festival benefitting his Meditate America initiative for the David Lynch Foundation. Donovan stated, “David and I are ‘compadres’ on a creative path rarely travelled. And we bring TM Meditation to the world.”
It’s Donovan’s first original single since 2015, and can be bought as a 12’’ vinyl here. He was much more active in the ‘60s-’80s, and especially prolific during the late ‘60s, when he released his best-known albums Sunshine Superman (1966), Mellow Yellow (1967), A Gift From a Flower to a Garden (1967) and The Hurdy-Gurdy Man (1968).
Although he’s known for his work as a film/TV director, Lynch had actually released music more recently than Donovan. He shared two songs in 2020 from the perspective of the monkey he featured in his Netflix short What Did Jack Do?, and released a new video for his 2011 Crazy Clown Time bonus track “I Have a Radio.”