Colours (Donovan song)

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UK (Pye) sleeve
Single by Donovan
from the album Fairytale
B-side "To Sing for You" (UK)
"Josie" (USA)
Released May 28, 1965 (UK)
June 1965 (US)
Format 7"
Recorded 1965
Genre Folk
Length 2:44 (Side A)
2:46 ("To Sing For You")
3:29 ("Josie")
Label Pye 7N15866 (UK)
Hickory 45-1324 (USA)
Writer(s) Donovan Leitch
Producer(s) Terry Kennedy, Peter Eden, Geoff Stephens
Donovan UK singles chronology
"Catch the Wind"
Donovan USA singles chronology
"Catch the Wind"
"Universal Soldier"

"Colours" is a song written and recorded by British singer-songwriter Donovan.[1] The "Colours" single was released in the United Kingdom on May 28, 1965 through Pye Records (Pye 7N 15866) and a few months later in the United States through Hickory Records (Hickory 45-1324). The "Colours" single was backed with "To Sing for You" (previously included on What's Bin Did and What's Bin Hid) on the United Kingdom release and "Josie" (from What's Bin Did and What's Bin Hid) on the United States release.

Release and reception[edit]

Swedish release of "Colours" single.

Donovan followed up the success of "Catch the Wind" with "Colours", which featured a similar folk style. The single matched the success of "Catch the Wind" in the United Kingdom, reaching No.4 on the charts. In the United States, "Colours" reached No.61 and marked a decline in the artist's popularity relative to "Catch the Wind". A different mix of the song (without harmonica) was released on his second album Fairytale.

When Epic Records was compiling Donovan's Greatest Hits, they were either unable or unwilling to secure the rights to the original recordings of "Catch the Wind" and "Colours". Donovan re-recorded both songs with a full backing band, and the re-recordings were included on the greatest hits album.


The song was used in the films Poor Cow (sung by actor Terence Stamp) and The Rules of Attraction (re-recorded version) as well as in commercials.

No-Man version[edit]

Single by No-Man
B-side "Drink Judas"
"Colours (Remodelled)"
Released July 1990 (7")
November 1990 (12")
Format 7",12", CD
Recorded No-Man's Land, Hemel Hempstead (Title track)
Genre Art rock, dream pop
Length 10:29 (7")
Label Hidden Art (7")
Probe Plus (12")
Producer(s) No-Man
No-Man singles chronology
"Ocean Song"

A cover of the song, released in 1990, was the first single of British art rock duo No-Man and the first release under their current name (their first releases from 1989 had their previous moniker "No Man Is An Island").[2] The later re-release of the song had an original song, "Drink Judas", as a b-side.[3] Both songs were later included in the duo's 1992 third EP: Lovesighs – An Entertainment, with "Drink Judas" being re-recorded and "Colours" remixed.[4]

Van Dyke Parks version[edit]

In 1967, Van Dyke Parks created a (loose) instrumental adaption of this song titled "Donovan's Colours", which was released as a single (credited to George Washington Brown) and as a track on Parks' first album Song Cycle, respectively. This version features mostly the original chord progression, albeit in completely different ragtime arrangement.

Other versions[edit]

  • Donovan collaborated with Spanish group Mocedades for a cover of the song with Spanish/English lyrics included in the latter's 1986 album Colores.
  • Finbar Furey included a version of "Colours" on his 2012 album of the same name.[5]


External links[edit]