Mellow Yellow

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This article is about the song. For the album it appears on, see Mellow Yellow (album). For the Coca-Cola branded soft drink, see Mello Yello.
"Mellow Yellow"
Single by Donovan
from the album Mellow Yellow
A-side "Mellow Yellow"
  • "Sunny South Kensington" (USA)
  • "Preachin' Love" (UK)
  • 24 November 1966 (USA)
  • February 1967 (UK)
Format 7" single
Recorded October 1966
Length 3:42
  • Epic 5-10098
  • Pye 7N 17267
Writer(s) Donovan
Producer(s) Mickie Most
Certification Gold (RIAA)[5]
Donovan UK chronology
"Sunshine Superman"
"Mellow Yellow"
"There Is a Mountain"
Donovan USA chronology
"Sunny Goodge Street"
"Mellow Yellow"
"Epistle to Dippy"

"Mellow Yellow" is a song written and recorded by Scottish singer/songwriter Donovan.[6] It reached No. 2 on the US Billboard Hot 100 in 1966 and No. 8 in the UK in early 1967.


The song was rumoured to be about smoking dried banana skins, which was believed to be a hallucinogenic drug in the 1960s, though this aspect of bananas has since been debunked.[7] According to Donovan's notes accompanying the album Donovan's Greatest Hits, the rumour that one could get high from smoking dried banana skins was started by Country Joe McDonald in 1966, and Donovan heard the rumour three weeks before "Mellow Yellow" was released as a single. According to The Rolling Stone Illustrated Encyclopedia of Rock and Roll, he admitted later the song made reference to a vibrator; an "electrical banana" as mentioned in the lyrics.[8] This definition was re-affirmed in an interview with NME magazine: "it's about being cool, laid-back, and also the electrical bananas that were appearing on the scene - which were ladies' vibrators."[9]

The phrase "mellow yellow" appears towards the end of James Joyce's novel Ulysses, where it is used to refer to Mrs. Marion Bloom's buttocks.[10] But it is not known if Donovan took the phrase from there.[citation needed]

The record had a "Beatlesque" feel to it, and was sometimes mistaken for a Beatles song. Donovan, in fact, was friends with the Beatles. Paul McCartney can be heard as one of the background revellers on this track, but contrary to popular belief, it is not McCartney whispering the "quite rightly" answering lines in the chorus, but rather Donovan himself.[11] Donovan had a small part in coming up with the lyrics for "Yellow Submarine", and McCartney played bass guitar (uncredited) on portions of Donovan's Mellow Yellow album.[12]

In 2005 the track was remastered by EMI Records for the Mellow Yellow album re-issue.[13]

Covers and adaptations[edit]

In 1970 a Czech version of the song was issued by Czech singer and actor Václav Neckář on the Supraphon label.[14]

In 1999 "Mellow Yellow" was sung by a group of young adults, among whom were then-unknowns Alex Greenwald, Rashida Jones and Jason Thompson, in Gap's "Everybody in Cords" commercial directed by Pedro Romhanyi. The music mix was done by the Dust Brothers.[15] In 2015 the song was covered by Spanish singer Abraham Mateo for the soundtrack and promotion of the film Minions.[16] In Brazil Michel Teló covered the song, adapted to Portuguese, also for the movie.[17]

One of the oldest coffeeshops in Amsterdam is called "Mellow Yellow".[18]

Chart performance[edit]


  1. ^ Laing, Dave (1975). The Electric Muse: the story of Folk into Rock. Methuen. p. 151. ISBN 0-413-31860-5. Donovan (...) did change styles to make a couple of enormously successful pop singles, "Mellow Yellow" and "Sunshine Superman", before disappearing from the front ranks. 
  2. ^ Willis, Ellen (2011). Out of the Vinyl Deeps: Ellen Willis on Rock Music. University of Minnesota Press. p. 14. ISBN 978-0-8166-7283-7. Donovan wrote medieval fantasies and pop collages like "Sunshine Superman" and "Mellow Yellow." 
  3. ^ Buckley, Peter (2003). The Rough Guide to Rock. Rough Guides. p. 305. ISBN 978-1-8435-3105-0. A further move into psychedelic pop spawned another million-seller in "Mellow Yellow" — [Donovan's] best-known song 
  4. ^ Ellis, Iain (2012). Brit Wits: A History of British Rock Humor. Intellect Books. p. 42. ISBN 978-1-8415-0565-7. Hits like "Mellow Yellow" (1967) and "Hurdy Gurdy Man" (1968) saw Donovan become the public face of fanciful British psychedelic pop in the latter part of the decade. 
  5. ^ "RIAA – Gold & Platinum Searchable Database – Mellow Yellow". RIAA. Retrieved 9 June 2014. 
  6. ^ Gilliland, John (1969). "Show 48 - The British are Coming! The British are Coming!: With an emphasis on Donovan, the Bee Gees and the Who. [Part 5] : UNT Digital Library" (audio). Pop Chronicles. 
  7. ^ Adams, Cecil (26 April 2002). "Will smoking banana peels get you high?". The Straight Dope. Retrieved 9 June 2014. 
  8. ^ George-Warren, Holly, ed. (2001). The Rolling Stone Encyclopedia of Rock & Roll (3rd, Revised and updated for the 21st century ed.). Fireside. p. 276. ISBN 0-7432-0120-5. 
  9. ^ "The Aftershow". NME: 66. 18 June 2011. 
  10. ^ Joyce, James (1960). Ulysses. Harmondsworth: Penguin Modern Classics. p. 656. ISBN 0-14-00-3000-X. He kissed the plump mellow yellow smellow melons of her rump, on each plump melonous hemisphere, in their mellow yellow furrow, with obscure prolonged provocative mellonsmellonous osculation. 
  11. ^ "Mellow Yellow". Donovan Unofficial. Retrieved 26 July 2014. 
  12. ^ The Paul McCartney World Tour booklet (Media notes). 1989. 
  13. ^ "Mellow Yellow (reissues)". Donovan Unofficial. Retrieved 26 July 2014. 
  14. ^ "Václav Neckář - Motejl Modrejl / Goo-Goo Barabajagal (Vinyl)". Discogs. Retrieved 26 July 2014. 
  15. ^ Mind the Gap at the Wayback Machine (archived 18 February 2009). Entertainment Weekly. (Time Inc.) (502). 10 September 1999. Retrieved 9 June 2014.
  16. ^ "Abraham Mateo pone música a 'Los Minions'". Las Provincias (in Spanish). 25 June 2015. Retrieved 29 June 2015. 
  17. ^ "'Minions': Michel Teló conta como adaptou música tema do filme" (in Spanish). 22 June 2015. Retrieved 29 June 2015. 
  18. ^ "Amsterdam Coffeeshop Directory – Mellow Yellow coffee shop". Retrieved 16 January 2012. 
  19. ^ "Go-Set Australian charts – 11 January 1967". Go-Set. Retrieved 17 July 2013. 
  20. ^ "Forum – ARIA Charts: Special Occasion Charts – Chart Positions Pre 1989 Part 3". Hung Medien. Retrieved 9 June 2014. 
  21. ^ " – Donovan – Mellow Yellow" (in German). Ö3 Austria Top 40. Retrieved 9 June 2014.
  22. ^ " – Donovan – Mellow Yellow" (in Dutch). Ultratop 50. Retrieved 9 June 2014.
  23. ^ CHART NUMBER 511 – Monday, December 05, 1966 at the Wayback Machine (archived 29 July 2007). CHUM. Retrieved 9 June 2014.
  24. ^ "Top RPM Singles: Issue 5781." RPM. Library and Archives Canada. Retrieved 17 July 2013.
  25. ^ "InfoDisc : Tous les Titres par Artiste" (in French). InfoDisc. Select "Donovan" from the artist drop-down menu. Retrieved 17 July 2013. 
  26. ^ " – Donovan – Mellow Yellow". GfK Entertainment. Retrieved 9 June 2014.
  27. ^ "The Irish Charts – Search Results – Mellow Yellow". Irish Singles Chart. Retrieved 17 July 2013.
  28. ^ a b "I singoli più venduti del 1967" (in Italian). Hit Parade Italia. Creative Commons. Retrieved 17 July 2013. 
  29. ^ "Nederlandse Top 40 – Donovan - Mellow Yellow search results" (in Dutch) Dutch Top 40. Retrieved 9 June 2014.
  30. ^ " – Donovan – Mellow Yellow" (in Dutch). Single Top 100. Retrieved 9 June 2014.
  31. ^ " – Donovan – Mellow Yellow". VG-lista. Retrieved 9 June 2014.
  32. ^ "Archive Chart: 1967-03-04" UK Singles Chart. Retrieved 17 July 2013.
  33. ^ "Mellow Yellow – Awards". AllMusic. All Media Network. Retrieved 17 July 2013. 
  34. ^ CASH BOX Top 100 Singles – Week ending DECEMBER 17, 1966 at the Wayback Machine (archived 5 October 2012). Cash Box magazine. Retrieved 9 June 2014.
  35. ^ RECORD WORLD 1966 at the Wayback Machine (archived 1 May 2003). Record World. Retrieved 9 June 2014.
  36. ^ "Jaaroverzichten 1967" (in Dutch). Ultratop. Hung Medien. Retrieved 9 June 2014. 

External links[edit]