posted on June 23, 2010 at 6:08 am

remember that bit in my biography
where i’m walking down the school hall at lunchtime
and i hear a kid playing the guitar
and i blah blah blah blah
well the song the kid was playing was called atlantis
he taught me the chords too (my first chord progression!)
they are C D F C G
i felt as if i had learnt a spell
the spell still has not worn off
even after 40 years
now most pop music is a load of old rubbish
uh huh aint it the truth
meaningless tripe knocked out to try n make a buck
the kinda thing you listen to once and never again
once in a while someone writes something so good n powerful
it can stay with ya forever n forever
atlantis by donovan is such a song
in spades my my oh my word
i always liked donovan
he was a big influence on my uber-hero marc bolan
when i first heard this song back in 69 or 70 it floored me
a feeling of sacredness pervades the simple chords
donovan starts talking over the gentle strumming
the most beautiful delicate scottish accent imaginable
he rolls his Rs
and the whole thing has an air of the most confidential information
the continent of atlantis was an island
which lay before the great flood
in the area we now call the atlantic ocean…
i was instantly hooked
he goes on to amazingly tell the story of atlantis so succinctly
as a piano chimes in playing the wistful melody)
so great an area of land that those beautiful sailors
journeyed to the north and south americas with ease
in their ships with painted sails
to the east africa was her neighbour across a short strait of sea miles
the great egyptian age is but a remnant of atlantean culture…
(yes it is …ask herodotus !)
the narrative continues:
the ante diluvian kings colonised the world
all the gods who play in the mythological dramas
in all legends from all lands were from fair atlantis
(all spoken so carefully in that wonderful soft accent)
knowing her fate
atlantis sent out ships to the four corners of the world
on board were the 12
the poet the physician the farmer the scientist the magician
and the other so called gods of our legends
tho gods they were
and as the elders of our time choose to remain blind
let us rejoice and lets us sing and dance
and ring in the new
this is followed by a good old fashioned hey jude ending
with pounding drums and piano and electric guitar
while donovan sings
way down below the ocean where i wanna be she may be
fucking brilliant!
great tune
great production
and sending me off into an atlantean obsession
imagine if all the stuff you heard on the radio was like this…
and it was in the charts….!
life changing pop music…whooda thunk it?
now go n download it if ya aint got it
and dig this fairly accurate history of atlantis
in the shape of a 4 minute spell

38 Responses to “sacred songs : atlantis”

  1. avatar
    Anonymous | 23 June 2010 at 7:04 am #

    I agree – that it is sad that most of the 'good' music went away — Glad that yours didn't, and thank you for sharing your song. He has such a wonderful voice, especially in that song.

  2. avatar
    AdeN | 23 June 2010 at 7:11 am #

    Oh YES. Thank you for pulling this out of my memory banks. What a wonderful song, Atlantis. Agree with your sentiments as well!

  3. avatar
    Anonymous | 23 June 2010 at 7:23 am #

    I'll try that chord progression (Do Re Fa Do Sol), although the f* F chord is still hard for me to play properly.

    I can't add anything else about Donovan. He's one of the best singer-songwriters as he plays in the same league that Bob Dylan, Silvio Rodriguez, Neil Young, Leonard Cohen, Roy Harper, Franco Battiato and of course… Steve Kilbey.

    I'll see if I have Atlantis among all my Donovan's stuff.

  4. avatar
    lily was here | 23 June 2010 at 7:34 am #

    Wow SK, I haven't heard that song in such a long time!

    ps was anyone else as pissed off as me about that magician show on telly giving away all the tricks and secrets? Is nothing sacred anymore? That really depressed me.

  5. avatar
    Anonymous | 23 June 2010 at 7:47 am #

    Great song indeed…

  6. avatar
    eek | 23 June 2010 at 8:05 am #

    What a walk down memory lane! Love that song. Given what crap is on the radio now, it does seem a wonder such songs not only got radio airtime, but got a LOT of it.

  7. avatar
    Bob Dylan, to much hilarity, | 23 June 2010 at 8:23 am #

    "Looked in the wardrobe, there was Donovan…"

  8. avatar
    Anonymous | 23 June 2010 at 8:27 am #

    Hey Steve,

    "a feeling of sacredness pervades the simple chords"…that's the feeling i get when listening to your music…a sacredness indeed.

    As for the Donovan song, i think i remember it but i'll down load it and have a listen…

    Loved the bit about Egypt/Herotodus too…gotta be something in it…

    Anyway, looking forward to hearing and seeing you later in the year, can't wait!


    Jon from Geelong.

  9. avatar
    fantasticandy | 23 June 2010 at 8:51 am #

    donovan was well cool,
    and, yes sue, when the magic's gone, what's left in life?

  10. avatar
    john | 23 June 2010 at 9:45 am #

    i always ask who did bob dylan listen to.who who did bach listen to? as much as we think we know we dont really know someone elses heart and brain. thanks for sharing as it helps put the sk puzzle togethgether so we get even more out of lds of music. your limitless abilities to put thought into music. as far as pop radio goes it is just like chain restaurant. same frozen food delivered fast w a slight variation of theme. i cancelled my satellite radio as it just is an upscaled verson of a collection of what record companies have done over the decades.

  11. avatar
    Thomas Thomsen, Denmark | 23 June 2010 at 10:38 am #

    Radio is so depressing and has been for ages. Never listen to it anymore. I choose to read music magazines to stay informed, and there IS a lot of excellent music still being released, you just have to search for it. Recently I've fallen in love with the Canadian band Broken Social Scene and The Black Keys (their two latest albums).
    The Church will always be my favourite band, though.

  12. avatar
    Freddie | 23 June 2010 at 11:03 am #

    Sounds beautiful….I'll certainly look it up!

  13. avatar
    Hellbound Heart | 23 June 2010 at 11:06 am #

    have to agree with you about guy giving the secrets of magic away… and tawdry tricks……
    i couldn't agree with you more about most pop music being crap, so true……..

    love always…..

  14. avatar
    Fandorin-San | 23 June 2010 at 12:35 pm #

    thanks for another song analysis. i love how you explain the nuts n bolts, until i realize the nuts n bolts are just as mysterious as the whole song.

    "a feeling of sacredness pervades the simple chords"

    that's what i always think about a certain subgenre of your very own songs. there are the tricky ones, the biggies, the dark n weird. and there are the Sacred Simple Ones…Random Pan, Nothing Inside. So poignant and sublime in their simplicity.

  15. avatar
    Broken Toys and Heros | 23 June 2010 at 1:04 pm #

    Inspirations…indeed !!! mine was a feeling of astonishment. When I first heard "Fragile" by Yes, I was mesmerized. "mood for a day" and "roundabout" – how can a men play like that … true musicians, artists- Steve Howe and Mr. Squire. Though they lost me years later when they wrote songs just to earn radio play. They still rank up there with Pink Floyd and The Who as the true originators of a craft lost for so many years. That is till you guys strolled in, all cool with the hip paisley attire (LOL !!!). I still listen to Fragile today. I put that, Burred Crusade, the Wall, and Quad…up against this strife being sprayed on us from our speakers every time we decide to switch over to the radio instead of just staying in the world of our cd and album collections. Now, Yes has become a carnival act..unable to create-only tread thru a past catalog. Unlike U23, where genius never stops evolving from real musicians still awake to the process that they were born from.

    as always,


  16. avatar
    Jasperina | 23 June 2010 at 1:08 pm #

    A song that for some months now has been quietly finding its way to my ear. I have it on my ipod as its on one of those compilation albums. The shuffle mechanism is some kind of crystal ball that finds the song you most need to hear in that moment. Atlantis is poetry and incantation. Like all spells it is the future, the past and the present all at once.

  17. avatar
    Brien Comerford | 23 June 2010 at 2:55 pm #

    Celia Of The Seals was another great song of his. It protests the vicious seal hunt and lauds Celia Hammond for her animal rights work. Celia Hammond was Jeff Beck's close companion for many, many years. They rescued and housed hundreds of dogs and cats throughout the years.

  18. avatar
    Anonymous | 23 June 2010 at 3:03 pm #

    and then find

    You Deserve A Place by Nancy Boy (Donovan's son et al.)

    …greatness continues; just not on the Radio so much — kinda like you.

  19. avatar
    ET | 23 June 2010 at 5:01 pm #

    Gift from a Flower to a Garden is an entire spell book.

  20. avatar
    bc | 23 June 2010 at 5:42 pm #

    love this post!
    the magic of music…

  21. avatar
    sanfoin | 23 June 2010 at 6:54 pm #

    I think Atlantis came off Barbajagal, the album after Hurdy Gurdy Man. Donovan did some really nice original stuff in the late 60s.
    One of a kind…

  22. avatar
    Anonymous | 23 June 2010 at 10:25 pm #

    Yeah, that song made exactly the same impact on me when I heard it about the same time. A brilliant song/story laden with meaning and feeling.
    A soaring tale of man`s lost past. How could we forget????
    And so Mr. Kilbey I eagerly await your next excursions and exploration of music that sets my mind free to become what I have always been.
    A reminder of what it`s all about. Which I occasionally need.
    So you`re a worthy representative of one of the three main approaches to understanding our existence in the time-space continuum – music and art. The two others being science and religion/spirituality.
    Go to it! I`m all ears!

  23. avatar
    plumlady | 23 June 2010 at 10:47 pm #

    And let's not forget Season of the Witch….

    from a witch in Mpls

  24. avatar
    Mr. Argent | 24 June 2010 at 12:33 am #

    Grazie, SK.

    Hear the God Particle signal:

  25. avatar
    the dean | 24 June 2010 at 2:18 am #

    Herodotus may be considered the archetypal historian but he is also renowned for his extravagant use of anecdotal evidence to astound the casual reader – gold mining ants, flying snakes etc.
    Even though I have heard (more anecdotes) of a species of snake that jumpings out of trees onto their victims. So what do I know.

  26. avatar
    simonlawlor | 24 June 2010 at 6:18 am #

    …the magician?…

  27. avatar
    Anonymous | 24 June 2010 at 6:48 am #

    Love these blogs with analysis on a classic tune ("Atlantis" hit #7 in 1968). The #7 Hit on Billboard Top 100 right now is: "Break Your Heart" by Taio Cruz Featuring Ludacris.


  28. avatar
    CAPTAIN BEYOND | 24 June 2010 at 8:46 am #

    Atlantis still exist under the sea and we all live in a yellow submarine, a yellow submarine, a yellow submarine…
    Jonny Atlantis

  29. avatar
    DavidP | 24 June 2010 at 9:25 am #

    to the dean,
    not sure about gold mining ants but a flying snake is a symbol for a spiritual part within. You see them in Mayan culture. In Ancient Egypt you can see the cobras on the Pharaohs foreheads depicting the same thing.

    Some say the great pyramids of Giza were already ancient in Atlantean times.

    With so many natural disasters occurring round the globe of recent times it makes me wonder if another great flood could happen.

    Looking forward to hearing loads of new Sacred songs from our Saint Steven.

  30. avatar
    david duchow | 24 June 2010 at 11:47 am #

    Hail Atlantis, Donovan and SK!


  31. avatar
    Andrea | 24 June 2010 at 6:22 pm #

    Hi SK- funny, I was reading Lurie's book and read about this moment of your life just today…
    I remember very well when, in 1990, I read an enthusiastic report on the Church on an Italian newspaper (it was a left-wing paper, l'Unità) and I decided to buy your latest record (GAF) just because that review was so positive… what if I had not bought that paper that day??? That was one of the most important days of my life!


  32. avatar
    davem | 24 June 2010 at 6:39 pm #

    Have you seen that series of songwriter documentaries?
    We get them on Sky Arts over here, don't know about in Oz.
    Anywaysup, the Donovan one was quite fab, as was the Ian Macca.
    Well worth checking out.

  33. avatar
    Anonymous | 24 June 2010 at 8:56 pm #

    According to American clairvoyant seer Edgar Cayce Atlantis will rise again. Let`s wait and see…..
    Exciting times indeed.
    Not to mention the underground archives under the Sphinx in Egypt containing the real history of mankind`s descent into matter.
    Just biding my time here…..

  34. avatar
    pennybridge | 24 June 2010 at 9:27 pm #

    Love to read about your old and new favourites.
    I wasn´t even born then (my excuse?;)but a lot of music from the 60s was really crap. Atlantis is a fine exception.

    Happy Midsummer tomorrow!
    22 Celsius och solen går aaaaaldrig ner.
    Love from Sweden.

  35. avatar
    restaurant mark | 24 June 2010 at 10:40 pm #

    sounds interesting…i've never heard it before. i'll check it out tonight. hope all is well with you sir.

    take care

  36. avatar
    princey | 25 June 2010 at 12:43 am #

    I always like reading about that "special moment" you have with certain songs and the effect they had on a young'n'innocent sk:)
    (btw, what's that stick you're holding there, do you cast magic spells with it or sumthink?)

    Hope to hear from you soon,
    love princey

  37. avatar
    Galamor theWizard | 25 June 2010 at 8:27 am #

    I too am still in the spell of Atlantis. I remember it as a dream (nearly) when I was about 4 (1969) but rediscovered it as I was being driven across the old Missingham bridge on the way to Ballina in about 1978. I too had an Atlantean and Donovan obession because of that song.
    I had a handwritten copy of the lyrics up on my wall (although I always wondered at the mysterious "wasanayba"[was her neighbour] when I was a teenager.
    Donovan is cool and it prepped me, with the Beatles, for accepting the Church into my pantheon of greats. I worked out many Donovan songs on guitar and always pluck out Isle of Islay, The River Song, Song of the Wandering Aegus and Hampstead Incident when I pick up a guitar. I saw him twice in the 90's at the Basement and on one occasion, shook his hand and thanked him. To complete the Donovan/Beatles obsession, when I went to India I made sure to go to Rishikesh and snuck into the Marharishis ashram to try and get a photo (dressed in suitable yellow cheesecloth) at the same spot where the famous photo was taken! I got thrown out just before I got to the spot!
    LOVE Donovan. Hail Atlantis!!!!!

  38. avatar
    beverlyeverly | 25 June 2010 at 2:25 pm #

    Oh, Steve, I feel exactly the same way. Even now when I hear him say, "HAIL ATLANTIS", I get chills and an indescribable feeling comes over me. Makes me feel like I really did live in Atlantis. And, yes, that voice, that beautiful Scottish voice, Donovan. Thanks for the reminder!

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