Atlantis (Donovan song)

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Single by Donovan
from the album Barabajagal
B-side"To Susan on the West Coast Waiting"
ReleasedNovember 1968
RecordedMay 1968
Songwriter(s)Donovan Leitch
Producer(s)Mickie Most
Donovan singles chronology
"Hurdy Gurdy Man"

"Atlantis" is a song written and performed by Scottish singer-songwriter Donovan. Produced by Mickie Most for Donovan's seventh studio album Barabajagal (1969), the song incorporates elements of folk rock and the psychedelic pop genre. Lyrically, "Atlantis" tells of a mythological antediluvian civilization based on the fictional island mentioned in an allegory on the hubris of nations in Plato's works Timaeus and Critias, with much of the verses sung as a quiet monologue.

The song was first released by Pye Records as a single in 1968 and became a worldwide success. It reached number one in the Netherlands and in Switzerland in 1969, while also reaching the top five in the Austria, New Zealand, and West Germany. In the United States, where it served as the B-side to "To Susan on the West Coast, Waiting", it reached number seven on the US Billboard Hot 100, whilst in the singer's native country the single managed only a modest number 23 on the UK Singles Chart only.

"Atlantis" has since been recorded by several artists, including Austrian singer Georg Danzer, German musical project U96 and German actor Thorsten Feller. In 2001, Donovan and German pop band No Angels re-recorded the track for the closing credits of the Walt Disney Feature Animation picture Atlantis: The Lost Empire (2001). Included on a concomitant album for the German-speaking music market,[3] it was once more released as a single and re-entered the top five in Austria and Germany.


"Atlantis" was written by Donovan and produced by Mickie Most for his seventh studio album Barabajagal (1969). Paul McCartney was rumored to have sung backing vocals for the song. However, Donovan said in a 2008 interview with Goldmine Magazine that McCartney was not involved in the recording sessions.[4]

The introduction of song is a quiet monologue spoken over the song's repeated musical melody, telling of the mythological antediluvian civilization of Atlantis.[2] The second half of the song is more energetic, with Donovan singing of finding his true love in Atlantis. The theme is common for the 1960s: fanciful mythology as a symbol of the counterculture movement, with the hope that true love will be found if Atlantis can be rediscovered.[2]

Release and reception[edit]

Contract disputes at the time caused a complicated series of different releases in the United Kingdom and United States. "Atlantis" was originally released in the United Kingdom as a single with "I Love My Shirt" as the B-side. In 1969, it was released in the US on the album Barabajagal. The LP was not released in the UK, however, and "Atlantis" was next released in the US as the B-side to "To Susan on the West Coast Waiting".

The song was not deemed likely to be a hit in the US because of its length and the fact that the first third of the song is spoken prose and therefore not "radio-friendly". It was for this reason that, despite its success in Europe, "Atlantis" was demoted to B-side status. However, the record company A&R executives were proved wrong when the popularity of "Atlantis" far surpassed that of its A-side. The song was quite successful, reaching number seven on the Billboard charts, and the song itself became an anthem of the hippie movement.

Track listings[edit]

All tracks written by Donovan Leitch and produced by Mickie Most.

UK 7" single
2."I Love My Shirt"3:55
US 7" single
1."To Susan On the West Coast Waiting"3:13


Release history[edit]

Release history for "Atlantis"
Region Date Ref(s)
United Kingdom November 1968 [citation needed]
United States March 1969 [citation needed]

Georg Danzer version[edit]

Single by Georg Danzer
from the album Menschliche Wärme
Released3 January 1984
  • Donovan Leitch
  • Georg Danzer
Producer(s)Georg Danzer
Georg Danzer singles chronology
"Weiße Pferde"

In 1984, Austrian musician Georg Danzer published a German-language version of the song, which has remained musically faithful to the original. First published on his album Menschliche Wärme, it appeared in the later course on the compilations Greenpeace, Hit Barometer and Überblicke. In Austria, it became a top 20 hit on the Ö3 Austria Top 40.[15]

Track listings[edit]

7-inch single

  1. Atlantis - 4:25
  2. Die Türken - 4:55

CD single

  1. "Atlantis" (radio edit) - 3:44
  2. "Atlantis" (acoustic edit) - 3:50


Weekly chart performance for "Atlantis"
Chart (1984) Peak
Austria (Ö3 Austria Top 40)[15] 19

No Angels version[edit]

Single by No Angels
Released19 November 2001
StudioPark (Tutzing, Germany)
Producer(s)Leslie Mándoki
No Angels singles chronology
"There Must Be an Angel"
"When the Angels Sing" / "Atlantis"
"Something about Us"

Production and recording[edit]

In the late 1990s, Walt Disney Feature Animation started production on Atlantis: The Lost Empire, an animated science fiction/action film, based on the Atlantis saga. Interested in slipping his 1968 version into the film soundtrack, Donovan immediately opened negotiations with the studios; however Disney was barely interested in the song and plans eventually fell through.[3] By 2000, Disney had committed German producer Leslie Mándoki to produce a concomitant album for the German-speaking music markets, entitled Stars Inspired by Atlantis.[3] After stumbling over the original song, Mándoki approached Donovan by phone, describing him his idea of a collaboration with German newcomers No Angels, with whom Mándoki had previously worked on their debut Elle'ments (2001), and a few days later Donovan and the band met at the Lake Starnberg to start recording.[3]

Release and reception[edit]

"Atlantis" served as the band's fourth single along with "When the Angels Sing", a midtempo ballad from their debut album Elle'ments (2001). Physical CD singles of the double-A single were released on 19 November 2001 by Cheyenne Records.[16] The maxi single includes the duet version, the Submarine Mix of "Atlantis" and three new remixes "When the Angels Sing".[16]

Upon its release, "When the Angels Sing"/"Atlantis" debuted at No. 5 on the German Singles Chart in the week of 3 December 2001.[17] It spent six weeks within the top 10 and fell out of the chart in the 14th weeks,[17] becoming the 79th highest-selling single of 2001 in Germany.[18] In Austria, the double-A single debuted at No. 10 on the Ö3 Austria Top 40.[19] It peaked at No. 5 in its third week and spent four more weeks within the top 10, leaving the top 75 after 14 weeks.[19] In Switzerland, "When the Angels Sing"/"Atlantis" entered the Swiss Hitparade at No. 56 in the week of 2 December.[20] It reached its peak, No. 16, in its second week, becoming the band's first single to miss the top 10. It fell out of the top 100 after twelve weeks on the chart.[20]

Music video[edit]

The single's music video was directed by Hannes Rossacher for DoRo Productions and shot in Berlin, Germany in late 2001.[3] It shows Donovan and the band in a recording studio accented by underwater settings, backdrops, and scenes inspired by the animated movie.

Track listings[edit]

Maxi single[16]
1."Atlantis" (Radio Mix)Mándoki4:14
2."When the Angels Sing" (New Radio Mix)
3."When the Angels Sing" (Christmas Mix)
  • Ries
  • Thomas-Schmidtmer
4."When the Angels Sing" (Special X-Mas Mix)
  • Ries
  • Thomas-Schmidtmer
5."Atlantis" (Submarine Mix)
  • Leitch
  • Mándoki
  • Bencker

Credits and personnel[edit]

Credits adapted from the liner notes of Elle'ments.[16]



Certifications for "Atlantis"
Region Certification Certified units/sales
Austria (IFPI Austria)[22] Gold 20,000*
Germany (BVMI)[23] Gold 250,000^

* Sales figures based on certification alone.
^ Shipments figures based on certification alone.

Other cover versions[edit]

  • In 1993, doom metal band Trouble released a cover of Atlantis, with additional material, on their album Manic Frustration and titled it "Breathe..."
  • In 1999, German actor Thorsten Feller covered the song under the pseudonym Feller.[24] T
  • In 2000, Donovan did a parody version for his cameo in the Futurama episode 'The Deep South', in which he describes the lost city of Atlanta.


  1. ^ Fontenot, Robert (29 October 2015). "What is Folk-Rock Music?". Archived from the original on 13 March 2017. Retrieved 12 March 2017.
  2. ^ a b c C.Grunenberg and J.Harris, Summer Of Love: Psychedelic Art, Social Crisis And Counterculture In The 1960s, (Liverpool University Press), p.140, ISBN 0853239193
  3. ^ a b c d e Peitz, Dirk (23 November 2001). "Mit 'Atlantis' aus der Versenkung". Rhein Zeitung. Retrieved 23 December 2007.
  4. ^ Goldmine Magazine, 10 October 2008.
  5. ^ "Donovan – Atlantis" (in German). Ö3 Austria Top 40. Retrieved 13 May 2022.
  6. ^ "Donovan – Atlantis" (in Dutch). Ultratop 50. Retrieved 13 May 2022.
  7. ^ "Donovan – Atlantis" (in French). Ultratop 50. Retrieved 13 May 2022.
  8. ^ "Nederlandse Top 40 – Donovan" (in Dutch). Dutch Top 40. Retrieved 13 May 2022.
  9. ^ "flavour of new zealand - search listener".
  10. ^ "Donovan – Atlantis". Swiss Singles Chart. Retrieved 13 May 2022.
  11. ^ "Official Singles Chart Top 100". Official Charts Company. Retrieved 13 May 2022.
  12. ^ "Donovan Chart History (Hot 100)". Billboard. Retrieved 13 May 2022.
  13. ^ " – Donovan – Atlantis" (in German). GfK Entertainment charts. Retrieved 13 May 2022.
  14. ^ "Swiss Year-End Charts 1969" (in German). Retrieved 21 March 2023.
  15. ^ a b "Georg Danzer – Atlantis" (in German). Ö3 Austria Top 40. Retrieved 13 May 2022.
  16. ^ a b c d "When the Angels Sing / Atlantis". Discogs. 19 November 2001. Retrieved 13 April 2017.
  17. ^ a b c "No Angels & Donovan – Atlantis / When The Angels Sing" (in German). GfK Entertainment charts. Retrieved 11 October 2018.
  18. ^ a b "Top 100 Singles–Jahrescharts (2002)". Retrieved 22 November 2015.
  19. ^ a b c "No Angels & Donovan – Atlantis / When The Angels Sing" (in German). Ö3 Austria Top 40. Retrieved 6 July 2012.
  20. ^ a b c "No Angels & Donovan – Atlantis / When The Angels Sing". Swiss Singles Chart. Retrieved 6 July 2012.
  21. ^ "Jahreshitparade Singles 2002". Retrieved 17 June 2020.
  22. ^ "Austrian single certifications – No Angels – Atlantis" (in German). IFPI Austria. Retrieved 13 April 2017.
  23. ^ "Gold-/Platin-Datenbank (No Angels; 'When the Angels Sing')" (in German). Bundesverband Musikindustrie. Retrieved 13 April 2017.
  24. ^ "Serienstar singt". 4 June 1999.

External links[edit]