My Top 1000 Songs #400: Atlantis
I love a lot of Donovan's work, but it's hard to deny a lot of his 60s folk & psychedelic pop could veer into pretty twee territory. And, yeah, this 1968 single (later released on 1969's Barabajagal LP), definitely heads deep into such silliness. The opening half of the 5-minute suite is a portentous (pretentious?) spoken-word poem about the lost city of Atlantis, Donovan's hushed vocals over a gentle guitar & piano figure. But then, after a fragile "Hail, Atlantis!" the snare kicks in and you've got the second half of the song, a chorus repeated over and over as the music swells into hugeness... "Way down below the ocean, where I wanna be, she may be," ad infinitum (peppered by occasional shouts of "my antediluvian baby," and yeah, I've been trying to incorporate "antediluvian" into conversations ever since).
It shouldn't work... it should be maddeningly absurd... but I just adore it, the song evolving from late 60s pop-psych fluff into something massive and anthemic. Those vocals on the back-end are just marvelous; and like other endless codas that should outlive their welcome (think "Hey Jude"), the harmonizing justifies the repetition.
Apparently others like the song as well; it was put to great effect (as were so many other songs) in Martin Scorsese's Goodfellas, soundtracking the demise of poor ol' Billy Batts.
Incidentally, wanted to use the original single sleeve above, but its use of a Hindu symbol which happens to be a backwards-facing Swastika was a little creepy.