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Paul McCartney Got By With A Little Help From His Friend…Donovan

Evening Standard-Hulton Archive, Getty Images

Rock and roll legend, and recent Rock and Roll Hall Of Fame inductee, Donovan has been making himself available, chatting about his life, past and present. We conducted our own interrogation with him last month, and he’s still making the rounds. In a recent interview with, he spoke about his little contribution to a legendary Beatles’ song.

Early in the summer of 1966 Paul McCartney paid a call to Donovan’s. “[H]e already had his guitar on his shoulders playing it walking upstairs to the apartment.” Donovan said. “He knocked on the door and said, ‘What are you doing?’ I said, ‘Writing songs, what are you doing?’ ‘I’m writing songs too…’ He sat down and I said, ‘OK, what do you got?”‘He said, ‘Well, I got this,’and he sang this: ‘Ola Na Tunjee/Blowing his mind in the dark with a pipe full of clay..’  ’Ola Na Tunjee’ we know would later be ‘Eleanor Rigby’.”

Not that Paul McCartney was in the habit of knocking on doors with guitar in hand mind you, but then again, we are talking about Donovan here. He continues, “And then he said, “I’ve got this’ and he started singing ‘Yellow Submarine.’ At one point he stopped and said, ‘But I don’t have any words for this bit.’ I said, ‘Give me a moment.’ I went into the bedroom and came back with ‘Sky of blue, sea of green/In our yellow submarine.’ He said, ‘That’ll do.’ It was nothing earth-shattering, it wasn’t a new piece of poetry that was going to change the world. All I put in was ‘sky of blue,’ but I felt very proud after that. That’s how it was then. It was a time to share, there was enough time to share.”

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