Song Lyric Sunday — Mellow Yellow

For this week’s Song Lyric Sunday, Jim Adams has asked us to pick a song that starts with either the letter “M” or the letter “A.” I have previously used Donovan’s songs, “Atlantis” and “Season of the Witch,” in my Song Lyric Sunday posts. So, since they say that the third time’s a charm, today I’m going with Donovan’s “Mellow Yellow.”

“Mellow Yellow” was written and recorded by Scottish singer-songwriter Donovan. It reached number 2 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1966. According to Wikipedia, the song was rumored to be about smoking dried banana skins. Back in the 60s, it was believed that dried banana skins could be turned into a hallucinogenic drug by scraping the fibers off of a banana skin and cooking them over a low fire. This was supposed to release the banana’s hallucinogenic qualities, but that aspect of banana skins has since been debunked. According to Donovan’s notes accompanying the album Donovan’s Greatest Hits, the rumor that one could get high from smoking dried banana skins was started by Country Joe McDonald in 1966, and Donovan heard the rumor three weeks before “Mellow Yellow” was released as a single.

Donovan set out to capture the mellow vibe of the ’60s with this song, adding what he called “cool, groovy phrases.” These phrases were interpreted in ways he never imagined, as people came up with lots of ideas as to what the song meant. Most of these interpretations concerned drugs, but there were even rumors that the song was about abortion. Asked what the song was actually about, Donovan said, “Quite a few things. Being mellow, laid-back, chilled out. ‘They call me Mellow Yellow, I’m the guy who can calm you down.’ John Lennon and I used to look in the back of newspapers and pull out funny things and they’d end up in songs. So it’s about being cool, laid-back, and also the electrical bananas that were appearing on the scene, which were ladies’ vibrators.”

Here are the lyrics to “Mellow Yellow.”

I’m just mad about Saffron
Saffron’s mad about me
I’m just mad about Saffron
She’s just mad about me

They call me mellow yellow
(Quite rightly)
They call me mellow yellow
(Quite rightly)
They call me mellow yellow

I’m just mad about Fourteen
Fourteen’s mad about me
I’m just mad about Fourteen
She’s just mad about me

They call me mellow yellow
They call me mellow yellow
(Quite rightly)
They call me mellow yellow

Born high forever to fly
Wind velocity nil
Wanna high forever to fly
If you want your cup our fill

They call me mellow yellow
(Quite rightly)
They call me mellow yellow
(Quite rightly)
They call me mellow yellow

(So mellow, he’s so yellow)

Electrical banana
Is gonna be a sudden craze
Electrical banana
Is bound to be the very next phase

They call me mellow yellow
(Quite rightly)
They call me mellow yellow
(Quite rightly)
They call me mellow yellow

Saffron, yeah
I’m just mad about her
I’m just mad about Saffron
She’s just mad about me

They call me mellow yellow
(Quite rightly)
They call me mellow yellow
(Quite rightly)
They call me mellow yellow

(Oh so yellow, oh so mellow)

15 thoughts on “Song Lyric Sunday — Mellow Yellow

  1. Lolsy's Library January 10, 2021 / 3:18 am

    Ohhhhhhhhhh, there’s a chocolate koala in Australia called “Caramello Koala” That’s where I know the song from!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Carol anne January 10, 2021 / 5:54 am

    wow I know this song! and I am fascinated about the smoking dried banana skins! xoxox

    Liked by 1 person

  3. newepicauthor January 10, 2021 / 6:44 am

    I tried smoking those dried banana skins, but it never did anything for me, well maybe I did mellow out a bit. The electrical bananas on the other hand, well I will save that for another day.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Lisa Coleman January 10, 2021 / 9:36 am

    Popular song today! It certainly was appropriate for its time. 🙂

    Like

  5. Marleen January 10, 2021 / 12:52 pm

    I didn’t know he was “mad about Fourteen” (and Saffron). I thought it was something like Fotean. Years after the popularity of the song, I met someone named Photene (fo-tee-nee). Nevertheless, was Saffron fourteen? I wonder. Or was he smoking the saffron with Photeen?

    http://babynamesocean.com/origin/greek_baby_names_13.html

    Liked by 1 person

  6. bushboy January 10, 2021 / 1:07 pm

    Love the song and Donovan since forever. Great info about the song too 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  7. leigha66 January 11, 2021 / 12:41 pm

    Interesting. I had never heard about the smoking of banana peels. Good song though!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. aisasami January 17, 2021 / 7:27 am

    Like someone else’s blog who mentioned this song, this a song from my childhood as my parents played it a lot. It is a great song!

    Liked by 1 person

    • aisasami January 17, 2021 / 7:28 am

      BTW, I thought for a long time when I was a kid this was named after the soft drink.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Fandango January 17, 2021 / 9:39 am

        I think Mello Yello came later. 😉

        Like

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