Psychedelic Superheroes

 
 

Sunshine Superman is a song written and recorded by British singer-songwriter Donovan. The Sunshine Superman single was released in the United States through Epic Records in July 1966, but due to a contractual dispute the United Kingdom release was delayed until December 1966. It has been described as having, “proven to be [one of the] classics of the era,” and as, “the quintessential bright summer sing along”.

By 1966, Donovan had shed the overt Bob Dylan/Arlo Guthrie influences and become one of the first British pop musicians to adopt a flower power image. More importantly, his music was developing and changing rapidly as he immersed himself in jazz, blues, Eastern music, and the new generation of U.S. West Coast bands such as Jefferson Airplane and The Grateful Dead. He was now entering his most creative and original phase as a songwriter and recording artist, working in close collaboration with Mickie Most and especially with arranger, musician, and jazz fan John Cameron. Their first collaboration was “Sunshine Superman”, one of the first overtly psychedelic pop records.

Sunshine Superman reached the top of the Billboard Hot 100 in the United States, and subsequently became the title track of Donovan’s eponymous third album. The song was written for Donovan’s future wife Linda Lawrence. The lyrics of the song mention not only Superman, but also another DC Comics superhero, Green Lantern.

 
 

 
 

By the way, writer Grant Morrison referenced the song in an issue of Animal Man by creating Sunshine Superman, an African American version of Superman who was a member of the Love Syndicate of Dreamworld, from a world based on the drug culture of the 1960s.

 
 

 
 

Beautiful Stranger is a song by American singer Madonna and was released on May 29, 1999 by Maverick Records. It was written and produced by Madonna and British songwriter and musician William Orbit, who had previously worked on the 1998 studio album Ray of Light. The song was written for the soundtrack and motion picture Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me (Jay Roach, 1999). Mike Myers who plays the main role in the film, also appeared in the accompanying music video, directed by Brett Ratner. Beautiful Stranger is an up-tempo love song featuring heavily reverberated guitars and bouncy drum loops with lyrics telling a tale of romantic infatuation.It employs a lyrical theme and instrumentation similar to that found in the song Amazing which is included on Madonna’s album Music (2000).

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Child Is The Father Of The Man

“Human beings are not born once and for all on the day their mothers give birth to them, but … life obliges them over and over again to give birth to themselves.”

Gabriel García Márquez

 
 

Popeye and Friends (1911),  Photograph by Lewis Wickes Hine

 
 

Kate Moss with children. Photos by Bruce Weber

 
 

Drew Barrymore as scout by Mark Seliger

 
 

French kids imitate Dizzy Gillespie’s cheeks in Nice (France) by Milt Hinton, 1981

 
 

Bob Dylan and kids,  Liverpool, England, 1966. Barry Feinstein

 
 

Donovan. Photo credit: Chris Walter, circa 1965

 
 

Frank Zappa and Mothers of Invention. Art Kane, circa 1968

 
 

For this Life magazine session, Art Kane wanted to portray the musical group as a family and took the idea of mothers — and their babies — as a theme.  He gathered some of the musicians’ infants, then booked about thirty more from a modeling agency.  As soon as they began to shoot, one of the babies urinated, which inspired the others to do so as well, creating in Kane’s words, “the fountains of Rome.”

 
 

Brotherhood, Art Kane

 
 

Norman Rockwell at Oak Mountain School (Georgia)

Songs for Julia

John Lennon with his mother Julian Stanley

 
 

Julia” was written by John Lennon (credited to Lennon–McCartney) and features Lennon on vocals and acoustic guitar. It was written during the Beatles’ 1968 visit to Rishikesh in northern India, where they were studying under the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. It was here where Lennon learned the song’s finger-picking guitar style (known as ‘Travis-picking’) from the Scottish musician Donovan. No other Beatle sings or plays on the song.

“Julia” was written for John’s mother, Julia Stanley (1914–1958), who was knocked down and killed by a car driven by a drunk off-duty police officer when John was 17 years old. Julia had encouraged her son’s interest in music and bought him his first guitar. But after splitting with John’s father, she started a new family with another man and left John to be raised by her sister, Mimi; though she lived just a few miles from John, Julia did not spend much time with him for a number of years.

Their relationship began to improve as he neared adolescence, though, and in the words of his half-sister, Julia Baird: “As he grew older, John would stay with us more often. He and Daddy got along well enough, and in the evenings when our daddy, a headwaiter, was at work, John and Mummy would sit together and listen to records. She was an Elvis Presley fan from the word go, and she and John would jive around the room to Heartbreak Hotel and other great Elvis songs. John inherited his love of music from her, and she encouraged him to start with piano and banjo, making him play a tune again and again until he got it right.”

“I lost her twice,” Lennon said. “Once as a five-year-old when I was moved in with my auntie. And once again when she actually physically died.”

The song was also written for his future wife Yoko Ono, whose first name, which literally means “child of the sea” in Japanese, is echoed in the lyric “Oceanchild, calls me.”

Towards the end of his life, he often called Yoko “Mother.”

 
 

 
 

The line “Half of what I say is meaningless, but I say it just to reach you” was a slight alteration from Lebanese poet Kahlil Gibran’s “Sand and Foam” (1926) in which the original verse reads, “Half of what I say is meaningless, but I say it so that the other half may reach you”. Lennon also adapted the lines “When I cannot sing my heart, I can only speak my mind” from Gibran’s “When life does not find a singer to sing her heart she produces a philosopher to speak her mind”.

 
 

First released on his 1970 album John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band