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What Is The Song Mellow Yellow About

What Is The Song “Mellow Yellow” About?

“Mellow Yellow” is a song by the legendary British singer-songwriter, Donovan. Released in 1966, it quickly became a hit and has since become one of Donovan’s most well-known and beloved songs. The catchy melody and cryptic lyrics have left fans wondering about the true meaning behind the song. In this article, we will delve into the story behind “Mellow Yellow” and uncover eight interesting facts about this iconic track.

1. The Origin of the Song:

“Mellow Yellow” was inspired by a variety of sources. The phrase “mellow yellow” itself was popularized by the American humor magazine, Mad, which used it to describe a type of LSD. Donovan found this phrase intriguing and decided to write a song around it.

2. The Yellow Submarine Connection:

It is widely rumored that Donovan’s close friend, Paul McCartney of The Beatles, contributed to the writing of “Mellow Yellow.” This claim was fueled by the fact that McCartney can be heard whispering at the end of the track. However, Donovan has denied this, stating that McCartney’s contribution was limited to singing backup vocals and providing moral support during the recording.

3. The Banana-Related Myth:

One of the more bizarre myths surrounding “Mellow Yellow” is that it is about the consumption of banana skins to achieve a psychedelic high. This myth gained popularity in the late 1960s when rumors spread that banana skins contained a substance called “bananadine.” However, this myth has been debunked, as there is no evidence to support the existence of bananadine.

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4. The Coca-Cola Jingle:

One of the most memorable aspects of “Mellow Yellow” is its catchy chorus, “They call me Mellow Yellow.” This line became so popular that it caught the attention of Coca-Cola, who approached Donovan to use it as the basis for a jingle. However, Donovan declined the offer, wanting to maintain the integrity of the song.

5. Donovan’s Inspiration from Andy Warhol:

Andy Warhol, the renowned pop artist, played a significant role in inspiring Donovan to write “Mellow Yellow.” Warhol’s creative vision and use of vibrant colors influenced the psychedelic nature of the song. Donovan even referenced Warhol in the lyrics, singing, “Electrical banana is gonna be a sudden craze, electrical banana is bound to be the very next phase.”

6. The Song’s Place in Pop Culture:

“Mellow Yellow” has made numerous appearances in popular culture over the years. It has been featured in movies, such as Oliver Stone’s “Natural Born Killers” and Martin Scorsese’s “Casino.” The song’s infectious melody has also been used in various commercials and TV shows, making it a timeless piece of pop culture.

7. Chart Success:

Upon its release in 1966, “Mellow Yellow” peaked at number two on the Billboard Hot 100 chart in the United States. It also achieved significant success in the United Kingdom, reaching number eight on the UK Singles Chart. The song’s popularity solidified Donovan’s status as a prominent figure in the psychedelic folk movement of the 1960s.

8. The Song’s Meaning:

Despite its enigmatic lyrics, Donovan has shed some light on the meaning behind “Mellow Yellow.” He once explained that the song is about embracing joy and positivity. The color yellow is often associated with happiness and optimism, and Donovan wanted to capture that essence in the song. He also wanted to convey a sense of freedom and open-mindedness, which were prominent themes during the counterculture movement of the 1960s.

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Common Questions about “Mellow Yellow”:

1. Who wrote “Mellow Yellow”?

“Mellow Yellow” was written by Donovan, a British singer-songwriter.

2. When was “Mellow Yellow” released?

“Mellow Yellow” was released in 1966.

3. Did Paul McCartney write “Mellow Yellow”?

No, Paul McCartney did not write “Mellow Yellow.” He provided backup vocals and moral support during the recording.

4. What is the song about?

The song’s meaning is open to interpretation, but Donovan has described it as a celebration of joy, positivity, and open-mindedness.

5. Is “Mellow Yellow” about drugs?

While there are drug-related myths surrounding the song, Donovan has never explicitly confirmed that the song is about drugs.

6. Has “Mellow Yellow” been used in movies?

Yes, “Mellow Yellow” has appeared in movies such as “Natural Born Killers” and “Casino.”

7. Did Coca-Cola want to use “Mellow Yellow” for a jingle?

Yes, Coca-Cola approached Donovan to use the song’s chorus for a jingle, but he declined the offer.

8. What is the significance of the phrase “mellow yellow”?

The phrase “mellow yellow” was popularized by the magazine Mad to describe a type of LSD.

9. Was “Mellow Yellow” a chart success?

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Yes, “Mellow Yellow” reached number two on the Billboard Hot 100 chart in the United States and number eight on the UK Singles Chart.

10. What inspired Donovan to write “Mellow Yellow”?

Donovan was inspired by the phrase “mellow yellow,” Andy Warhol’s art, and the counterculture movement of the 1960s.

11. Has “Mellow Yellow” been used in commercials?

Yes, the song has been used in various commercials over the years.

12. Did Donovan include references to Andy Warhol in the lyrics?

Yes, Donovan referenced Andy Warhol in the lyrics, mentioning the “electrical banana.”

13. Is there a connection between “Mellow Yellow” and banana skins?

There is a myth that the song is about consuming banana skins to achieve a psychedelic high, but this has been debunked.

14. What genre is “Mellow Yellow”?

“Mellow Yellow” falls under the genre of psychedelic folk.

15. Has “Mellow Yellow” stood the test of time?

Yes, the song’s popularity has endured over the years, making it a timeless piece of music.

Final Thoughts:

“Mellow Yellow” remains a beloved song that captured the spirit of the 1960s counterculture movement. Its cryptic lyrics and catchy melody continue to intrigue listeners, sparking discussions about its true meaning. Whether you interpret it as an ode to happiness, a drug-induced journey, or something entirely different, “Mellow Yellow” holds a special place in the annals of popular music. Its enduring popularity and cultural impact are a testament to Donovan’s talent as a songwriter and the timeless appeal of his music.