How The Beatles’ ‘Hey Jude’ Inspired Donovan’s ‘Atlantis’

Donovan’s “Atlantis” bears an obvious similarity to The Beatles’ “Hey Jude.” A folk band decided to combine the two songs into a mashup.

The Beatles‘ “Hey Jude” is one of the most famous songs of all time but, for the most part, it’s an island unto itself. Donovan’s “Atlantis” was one of the only hits to take cues from “Hey Jude.” Donovan also discussed how he drew inspiration from a supernatural book to write “Atlantis.”

The refrain of The Beatles’ ‘Hey Jude’ inspired a similar part of Donovan’s ‘Atlantis’

According to the Encyclopedia of Classic Rock, Donovan had a string of big hits in the 1960s. This run began with 1965’s “Catch the Wind,” a melancholy folk-rock number in the Bob Dylan vein, and ended with 1968’s “Atlantis,” a psychedelic song that begins with a spoken word section. If any 1960s solo artist had a musical range, it was Donovan.

The chorus of “Atlantis” repeats so much it feels endless. It was inspired by the similar endless refrain of The Beatles’ “Hey Jude” from 1968. The folk group The New Christy Minstrels combined the songs in mashup, highlighting the similarity between the two. The main difference between “Atlantis” and “Hey Jude” is that the latter has normal pop song verses while the former simply has a spoken word section and a refrain.

How the melody of a folk song and a mysterious book inspired ‘Atlantis’

During a 2012 interview with Rock Cellar, Donovan discussed other musical and literary inspirations behind “Atlantis.” “I was playing this song [‘Columbus Stockade Blues’] with Derroll [Adams], and I guess a bit of that melody went over into it,” he said. “And I was reading this book by Phylos the Tibetan, [A Dweller on Two Planets], which is a channeled book.” Channelled books are books that were supposedly dictated to humans by supernatural beings. A Dweller on Two Planets is the words that an Atlantean called Phylos the Tibetan reportedly dictated to a writer named Frederick Spencer Oliver.

“[The book] was about Atlantis, and I was fascinated with it, so I wrote this piece on the continent of Atlantis,” Donovan continued. “And I wanted to do a spoken word record and I did.”

How Donovan reacted when his song appeared in a violent ‘Goodfellas’ sequence

Famously, “Atlantis” appeared in a fight scene from Martin Scorsese’s gangster film Goodfellas. During a 2012 interview with MusicRadar, Donovan was asked about the scene. “People ask me about that,” he revealed. “I embrace the use of my songs in film, TV, and commercials — you reach so many people that way.

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