And now, a break from your regularly scheduled David Lynch Weekend programming.
As I’ve noted, my affection for Donovan stems from my experience of listening to him in the car with my mother. But there’s a more involved story about my history with Donovan’s music. One weekend in February 1995, my mother went to New York City to visit my grandmother, leaving my sister and I with my dad. I was on swim team then, which meant early-morning meets at the high school about once a month in the winter. I dreaded jumping into the cold sweaty pool at seven in the morning, and the constant beeping that meant “go” during the races made me a nervous wreck. Because of the high stress of the swim meets, I could usually finagle some sort of gift out of my dad afterwards – a couple of new pogs (or one special slammer!), say, or a trip to a movie. I wanted to see a movie that day, but only two were showing at the local theatre: The Big Green, some sort of soccer movie for kids starring a chubby boy with curly red hair (Patrick Renna, it turns out) and Gus Van Sant’s To Die For.
My dad and I both knew which movie we should see, and which movie we wanted to see. The latter had Nicole Kidman and ugly-hot teenage Joaquin Phoenix (together! naked!), and that’s the movie we ended up seeing. It was the type of snap judgment call that my parents have often made in favor of nudity, violence, and ordering me wine at restaurants when I was fifteen, and I love them for it. “Season of The Witch” is used to great effect in the last scene of To Die For (no spoilers). After the movie, my dad took me to Coconuts, where we bought a copy of Donovan’s greatest hits. We played it in the car while we drove to Long John Silver’s. The song “There Is A Mountain” came on, with the memorable lyric “First there is a mountain, / then there is no mountain, / then there is!” My dad started laughing. “What is this guy on?” he asked me. Knowing rhetorical questions about drug references (although I'm sure Donovan maintains his song is about the ocean of bliss within the self, not acid) after a disturbing movie, set to a soundtrack of psychedelia and crunchy fried shrimp: my dad was treating me like an adult, or how I imagined he would treat an adult.I was in heaven.