July 24th, 1965 – Bob Dylan, Donovan and Mary Travers hung out backstage at the 1965 Newport Folk Festival. Donovan had performed the night before with Joan Baez during her headlining set. Later that afternoon, Dylan would perform three acoustic songs at the festival workshop, as a warm-up for his headlining slot the following night. Mary Travers was also due perform the following evening with her group: Peter, Paul & Mary.
Who was “baby blue?” Was it Joan Baez, Dylan’s folk loving audience, Bob Dylan himself? No one knows, maybe not even Bob. “It’s All Over Now, Baby Blue,” is one of the greatest pieces of symbolist poetry ever, one of the greatest folk songs ever, and one of Bob’s best. Released in 1965 0n the incredible album, Bringing it All Back Home, the song was some kind of farewell ode to love, society, success, or failure. Maybe it was a portent of a coming apocalypse, or a grim nihilistic expression of desolation. Whatever it was about, it was beautiful, and British folkie Donovan knew it. The video clip below is from the 1967 documentary, “Don’t Look Back,” which focused on Dylan’s 64-65 tour of England. In the clip, we see Donovan play a lovely little tune, which is really great, but then request Bob play one of his favorites, “It’s All Over Now, Baby Blue.” I was always struck by what the lead singer of Franz Ferdinand Alex Kapranos had to say on the encounter.
Dylan And Donovan, What’s The Story? If any?
After their rendezvous on Dylan’s U.K. tour in 1965, as can be seen some of in the film Don’t Look Back, did they ever associate again?
I can’t recall ever seeing a subsequent photo or story or anecdote about the two of them together. Dylan didn’t do anything like invite Donovan on the Rolling Thunder Revue, etc. Do they not like each other or something?
DON’T LOOK BACK: BOB DYLAN VS. DONOVAN
Our first hint of jealousy arrives early on. Dylan reads a newspaper and is fixated on an article. Clearly agitated, Dylan exclaims, “Donovan! Who is this Donovan?”
Dylan puts the question to ex-Animals keyboardist, Alan Price. In a thick accent, Price describes Donovan as “a Scottish bloke.” The mood shifts from humor to vindictiveness as Price praises the Scottish singer. He informs Dylan that Donovan “has been around” and is “a very good guitar player,” adding, “he’s better than you.”
Interview With Donovan
Let’s talk about Bob Dylan. In the documentary Don’t Look Back, it seemed as if there was a rivalry between the two of you. But you were cool with each other, right?
“It did look like there was a conflict, didn’t it? But not really. [laughs] I didn’t hear Dylan first, I heard Woody. My cap and my harmonica was a Woody Guthrie thing. But one day, my pal Gypsy Dave called me and said, ‘There’s this other guy, Bob Dylan. I’ve just taken a record from my girlfriend…’ We sat down and listened to The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan – it was just like Woody Guthrie. It was amazing! That was my introduction to Dylan.