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. For the Amsterdam cannabis shop, see Mellow Yellow coffeeshop.
"Mellow Yellow"
Donovan - Mellow Yellow.jpg
Single by Donovan
from the album Mellow Yellow
A-side "Mellow Yellow"
  • "Sunny South Kensington" (USA)
  • "Preachin' Love" (UK)
  • 24 October 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
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.[5] 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.[6] 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.[7] 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."[8]

Paul McCartney can be heard as one of the background revellers on this track, but the "quite rightly" whispering answering lines in the chorus is not McCartney but rather Donovan himself.[9] 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.[10]

In 2005, the track was remastered by EMI Records for the Mellow Yellow album re-issue.[11]

Covers and adaptations[edit]

"Mellow Yellow" was covered in 1967 by soul singer Big Maybelle on her album Got a Brand New Bag.[12] It was also covered in 1968 by British R&B singer/keyboardist Georgie Fame on his album The Third Face of Fame.[13]

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. ^ 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. 
  6. ^ Adams, Cecil (26 April 2002). "Will smoking banana peels get you high?". The Straight Dope. Retrieved 9 June 2014. 
  7. ^ 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. 
  8. ^ "The Aftershow". NME: 66. 18 June 2011. 
  9. ^ Mellow Yellow at the Wayback Machine (archived 5 March 2016). Donovan Unofficial.
  10. ^ The Paul McCartney World Tour booklet (Media notes). 1989. 
  11. ^ Mellow Yellow (reissues) at the Wayback Machine (archived 14 March 2016). Donovan Unofficial.
  12. ^ "Big Maybelle – Got a Brand New Bag". AllMusic. All Media Network. Retrieved 11 May 2016. 
  13. ^ Thompson, Dave. "Georgie Fame – Third Face of Fame". AllMusic. All Media Network. Retrieved 11 May 2016. 
  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.
  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.
  24. ^ "Top RPM Singles: Issue 5781." RPM. Library and Archives Canada. Retrieved 17 July 2013.
  25. ^ "Le Détail par Artiste" (in French). InfoDisc. Select "Donovan" from the artist drop-down menu. Retrieved 12 May 2016. 
  26. ^ " – Donovan – Mellow Yellow". GfK Entertainment Charts. 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.
  35. ^ RECORD WORLD 1966 at the Wayback Machine (archived 1 May 2003). Record World.
  36. ^ "Jaaroverzichten 1967" (in Dutch). Ultratop. Hung Medien. Retrieved 9 June 2014. 

External links[edit]