Season of the Witch (song)
|"Season of the Witch"|
|Song by Donovan from the album Sunshine Superman|
|Released||September 1966 (USA)|
|Recorded||May 1966, Columbia Studios, Hollywood, California, U.S.|
|Genre||Psychedelic rock, acid rock|
"Season of the Witch" is an early example of psychedelic rock, written by Donovan and first released in September 1966 on his Epic Records (USA) album, Sunshine Superman. In the United Kingdom, a cover version by The Pandamonium was released as a single in November 1966 (CBS 202462), while Donovan's version was finally released in June 1967 on the Pye Records compilation Sunshine Superman.
The recording features Bobby Ray on bass and "Fast" Eddie Hoh on drums. The hauntingly eerie guitar is provided by Jimmy Page, then a noted session guitarist working in England. There are rumours that the organ was played by another noted British session player, John Paul Jones, perhaps helping to establish the groundwork for the eventual formation of Led Zeppelin two years later in 1968. (However, this was unable to be verified.) The run-time for the song is 4:56, unusual for an era when the typical pop song ran perhaps 2:30.
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.
- 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.
- Pesky Gee! (pre-Black Widow psychedelic rock band) covered the song on their album Exclamation Mark in 1969.
- South-African psychedelic band Suck recorded a version of the song on their album Time to Suck in 1970.
- Hole covered "Season of the Witch" during their MTV Unplugged session.
- Boston band Heretix covered the song on their EP "AD" in 1990.
- 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.
- Covered by Robert Plant several times live. The first was in the medley "That's Why I'm In The Mood" in 1993, and in 1999 when he toured with his short lived project Priory Of Brion.
- 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.
- Lou Rawls recorded the song for his 1999 album Brotherman!: Lou Rawls Sings the Hits.
- Covered by the darkwave band Babylonian Tiles.
- 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 Bobby Hughes (remix from Mike Bloomfield, Al Kooper, Stephen Stills Super Session album) in May 2005
- 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 the band Tea Leaf Green many times live.
- Covered by Mundy
- Covered by the Chicago protopunk garage band Little Boy Blues, flip side to their 1967 release "Great Train Robbery".
Background music in television and film
- The song played faintly during a scene in the 1998 TV series "From the Earth to the Moon" – Episode 2.
- The song appears in the 1978 film More American Graffiti and appears on the soundtrack album as well.
- The song was played over the end credits of the Gus Van Sant film To Die For.
- The song was used repeatedly in the series Crossing Jordan.
- It was featured in the House episode "Words and Deeds".
- It played at the end of the Grimm episode "The Thing with Feathers".
- The song was used in the witchcraft-themed Simpsons episode "Rednecks and Broomsticks".
- The song was featured in the closing of "True Blood," cover by Karen Elson, season 4, episode 3 - "If You Love Me, Why Am I Dyin'?" (2010)
- It was included in the 2010 film The Other Guys at 1:12 into the film.
- It was used in a 2010 ad for Microsoft's Windows Phone 7.
- It was also featured in the HBO documentary Reagan during a montage of footage of demonstrations in California during the late sixties.
- The song is also featured in the first official teaser trailer for the 2012 animated film ParaNorman
- The song is on the soundtrack of Tim Burton's Dark Shadows.
- The song appears in the TV show My Name Is Earl on the episode 'Witch Lady'
- The song appears in the 2008 film The Wackness.
- The song appears in the 2012 movie Sightseers, performed by Vanilla Fudge.
- The song was featured in a 2013 episode of American Horror Story: Coven.
- The song appears in the 2014 film Better Living Through Chemistry.
- The Al Kooper, Stephen Stills cover version of the song appears in episode 10 of the first season of Better Call Saul.
The song's title has been reused for three films:
- George A. Romero's Season of the Witch (1972)
- Halloween III: Season of the Witch (1982)
- Dominic Sena's Season of the Witch (2011)
Season of the Witch was also used as a working title for three different films:
- Martin Scorsese's Mean Streets (1973)
- Adam McKay's The Other Guys (2010)
- Tim Burton's Dark Shadows (2012)
It is also used as the title of four books:
- Season of the Witch, a 1968 science fiction novel by Hank Stine
- The Season of the Witch, a 1971 novel by James Leo Herlihy
- Season of the Witch: How the Occult Saved Rock and Roll, a 2014 non-fiction book by Peter Bebergal
- Season of the Witch: Enchantment, Terror, and Deliverance in the City of Love, a 2013 non-fiction book about the cultural history of San Francisco, by David Talbot.