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Single by Donovan
B-side "Aye My Love"
Released October 1968
Format 7",45 rpm
Recorded September 1968
Label Epic Records
Writer(s) Donovan
Producer(s) Mickie Most
Donovan USA singles chronology
"Hurdy Gurdy Man"
"Do You Hear Me Now?"
Single by Deep Purple
from the album Deep Purple
Released 21 June 1969 (US)
November 1969 (UK)
Recorded January - March 1969 at De Lane Lea, London
Genre Blues rock
Length 5:06
Label Harvest Records (UK)
Tetragrammaton (US)
Polydor (Canada)
Deep Purple track listing
"Fault Line"

Laléna is the title of a composition by Donovan for whom it was a Top 40 single in the autumn of 1968 reaching #33 on the Hot 100 in Billboard.

In 2004 Donovan would reveal that the song was entitled for the actress Lotte Lenya and that the song's lyric, addressed to a societally marginalized woman, was Donovan's reaction to Lenya's character in the film version of The Threepenny Opera: "she's a streetwalker, but in the history of the world, in all nations, women have taken on various roles from priestess to whore to mother to maiden to wife. This guise of sexual power is very prominent, and therein I saw the plight of the character. Women have roles thrust upon them and make the best they can out of them, so I'm describing the character Lotte Lenya is playing, and a few other women I've seen during my life, but it's a composite character of women who are outcasts on the edge of society."[1]

"Laléna" was recorded in a September 1968 session at Olympic Studios produced by Mickie Most, session personnel being Harold McNair on flute, Bobby Orr on drums, Danny Thompson on bass with the Royal Philharmonic strings; John Cameron was the arranger. Donovan was not working toward an album when he recorded "Laléna", having completed the tracks which would comprise his The Hurdy Gurdy Man album in April 1968; that album and the single "Laléna" both were issued in the US in October 1968 (Donovan was at this time unable to have product released in the UK due to a contractual dispute). The single was also a hit in France reaching #22.

"Laléna" made its first album appearance in 1969 on Donovan's Greatest Hits and was a bonus track on the 2005 CD release of The Hurdy Gurdy Man.

In 1975 Donovan recorded in Munich a version of "Laléna" with Marc Bolan which has been lost.[2][3]

In 1978 a bootleg emerged which featured Donovan performing "Laléna" in a studio with Paul McCartney on acoustic guitar: this tape was likely made November 1968 at EMI Studios London where McCartney was producing tracks for Mary Hopkin's Postcard, an album on which Donovan played guitar.[4]

The song has also been recorded by Deep Purple on their 1969 Deep Purple album, by Helena Vondráčková (in Czech) on her 1970 album Ostrov Heleny Vondráčkové and by Jane Olivor on her 1977 album Chasing Rainbows.

  • A televised performance of Donovan's "Laléna" included with Season 3, Episode 8 (Original Air Date: 12/08/1968) on the DVD: "The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour – Best of Season 3":[5] 2 other Donovan tunes: "Happiness Runs", "I Love My Shirt".[6]


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