Season of the Witch (song)

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"Season of the Witch"
Song by Donovan
from the album Sunshine Superman
Released 26 August 1966 (1966-08-26)
Recorded May 1966, Columbia Studios, Hollywood, California
Length 4:56
Label Epic
Songwriter(s) Donovan, Shawn Phillips (uncredited)[3]
Producer(s) Mickie Most

"Season of the Witch" is an early example of psychedelic rock, written by Donovan[4] and Shawn Phillips.[5] It was released in September 1966 on Donovan's Epic Records (USA) album, Sunshine Superman.

Background and recording[edit]

Originally recorded by Donovan for U.S. release, a version by The Pandamonium was released in the United Kingdom as a single in November 1966 (CBS 202462),[6] while Donovan's version was finally released in the U.K. in June 1967 on the Pye Records compilation Sunshine Superman.[citation needed] (The song was never released as a single but it became a very popular song with fans, enough so that Donovan himself played it live more than most of his other hits.[citation needed])

The recording features Bobby Ray on bass and "Fast" Eddie Hoh on drums.[7] The hauntingly eerie guitar is provided by Jimmy Page, then a noted session guitarist working in England.

Cover versions[edit]

The song has been covered by many artists:

  • Julie Driscoll covered the song in 1967 along with Brian Auger and the Trinity on their album Open.
  • Al Kooper and Stephen Stills covered the song on their album Super Session in 1968; the album's other featured guitarist, Mike Bloomfield, performed a version with Kooper at a New York "Super Session" concert eventually released on disc in 2003 as The Lost Fillmore Concert Tapes 12-13-68, though a subsequent bootleg concert recording features Bloomfield declining requests for the song saying he disliked the song. The Kooper-Stills version has been sampled in a number of hip-hop songs. This version also features "Fast" Eddie Hoh on drums, who played on Donovan's original recording.[citation needed]
  • Sam Gopal covered the song on their album Escalator.
  • The acid rock band Vanilla Fudge achieved mild success with a cover of "Season of the Witch" on their album Renaissance in 1968.
  • Terry Reid performed a ten-minute cover of this song on his 1968 debut album, Bang Bang, You're Terry Reid.
  • South-African psychedelic band Suck recorded a version of the song on their album Time to Suck in 1970.[8]
  • Hole covered "Season of the Witch" during their MTV Unplugged session.[citation needed]
  • The alternative rock band Luna released it as a single (1996).
  • The phony 'supergroup' The Masked Marauders performed the song on their lone LP, with vocals by Bob Dylan and Mick Jagger impersonators.
  • A demo of the song appears on Jellyfish's Bellybutton & Spilt Milk Deluxe Reissues as well as the Fan Club (From the Rare to the Unreleased... And Back Again) box set.
  • Covered by Robert Plant several times live. The first time was in the medley "That's Why I'm In The Mood" in 1993; also in 1999, when he toured with his short lived project Priory of Brion and in 2001, when he toured with his (then) backing band Strange Sensation.
  • Covered By Dr. John on the Blues Brothers 2000 Soundtrack; Dr. John's version plays during the scene in which the band arrives at the swamp lands, and is featured on the soundtrack album.[citation needed]
  • Lou Rawls recorded the song for his 1999 album Brotherman!: Lou Rawls Sings the Hits.
  • Covered by Joan Jett on her released-in-Japan album Naked.
  • Covered by Richard Thompson on the Crossing Jordan soundtrack album Jordan Crossing; this version was used in opening sequence of an episode of the television series, Crossing Jordan.
  • Covered by Jenny Devivo on the Hed Kandi Nu Cool 4 album in 2000.
  • Covered by Vanilla Fudge on the album The Return from 2002.
  • Covered by Lovewood on the album Halloween (Live at the Kings Arms) from 2001
  • The Strangelings included a cover of "Season of the Witch" on their album of the same name in 2007.
  • Covered by Karen Elson as a b-side to her first single from her 2010 debut album
  • Covered by poet and musician, Alan Pizzarelli as "Boneyard, Ghoul of the Blues" on his 2010 debut album, Voices from the Grave.
  • Covered by Mundy.
  • Covered by the folk singer Cindy Lee Berryhill on Straight Out of Marysville in 1996.
  • Covered by the Minneapolis-based alternative hip hop artist Astronautalis on the album Gazing with Tranquility: A Tribute to Donovan.
  • Covered by The Stone Coyotes on their album Situation Out Of Control in 2000.
  • Covered often by Buzzy Linhart live, as part of "That's the Bag I'm In" as on his album Live at The Cafe Au GoGo (1971).

Background music in television and film[edit]


The song's title has been reused for three films:

Season of the Witch was also used as a working title for three films:

It is also used as the title of four books:

The song title inspired record producer Joe Boyd to name his company Witchseason Productions.[10]


  1. ^ Timothy J. O'Brien; David Ensminger (April 2, 2013). Mojo Hand: The Life and Music of Lightnin' Hopkins. University of Texas Press. p. 191. ISBN 978-0-292-75302-0.
  2. ^ Editors Rolling Stone (November 8, 2001). Rolling Stone Encyclopedia of Rock & Roll: Rolling Stone Encyclopedia of Rock & Roll. Touchstone. p. 276. ISBN 978-0-7432-0120-9.
  3. ^
  4. ^ 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. University of North Texas Libraries.
  5. ^ Evans, Rush. "Follow the ever-changing ballad of singer-songwriter Shawn Phillips". Goldmine: The Music Collector's Magazine. GoldmineMag. Retrieved 21 May 2018.
  6. ^ The Pandamonium releases
  7. ^ Donovan sessions
  8. ^ "Time to Suck".
  9. ^ IMDB reference
  10. ^ Baker, Dann (6 July 2007). "A Few Good White Men". The Brooklyn Rail. Retrieved 12 October 2018.

External links[edit]