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Donovan explains how he became songwriting “mentor” to George Harrison after living “in the shadow” of Paul McCartney and John Lennon

Donovan has revealed that he became a songwriting mentor to George Harrison during the 1960s to help him out of the “shadow” of John Lennon and Paul McCartney. 

The Scottish singer-songwriter, known for his hits ‘Mellow Yellow’, ‘Sunshine Superman’ and ‘Hurdy Gurdy Man’, regularly spent time with The Beatles during the peak of their success. 

Speaking to Record Collector Magazine (via Music News), he said: “I became George’s mentor for songwriting. He was in the shadow of John and Paul for so many years and I said, ‘Look, I’ll show you a few tricks, how to encourage the songs.’ There’s a way to encourage the song to come. 

“You can tease it, like fishing,” he continued. “I told him how to play a chord then put your ear on the guitar, listen to the open chord and try a tempo.” 

“You can hear melodies, believe it or not. Melodies appear, but you’ve got to be quick to catch them.” 

Harrison went on to write several of The Beatles’ most beloved songs, including ‘Here Comes the Sun’, ‘Something’, While My Guitar Gently Weeps’ and ‘Taxman’.  

In November, Harrison‘s widow Olivia shared a “surprising magical” story about how The Beatles‘ ‘Now and Then’ artwork came about. 

“We were in this store, George saw this clock made out of bits and pieces and it had some Scrabble letters and it just said ‘Now and Then’,” she said. “He was attracted to it for some reason, he just took it off the wall and bought it. [He] built this little Russian dacha in the garden and hung the clock on it and there it sat for 25 years.” 

She went on to say that at the end of last summer she cleaned it up and put it on her mantelpiece.” 

Harrison then added: “Phone rings. It’s Paul [McCartney] and he begins to explain, reminding me of this third song that was on the cassette tape with ‘Real Love’ and ‘Free as a Bird’. I said, ‘I remember it, it’s called ‘Now and Then”. And I’m standing there looking at the clock.” 

“We were so moved and happy that this thing that George had held in his hand somehow magically appeared. And I said, ‘I think this is Georgie saying it’s OK’.” 

The clock itself features on the back of the vinyl sleeve for the single’s release. 

The track recently topped the UK Charts 60 years after their first Number One. It is the band’s 18th Number One single, with the last being 1969’s ‘The Ballad of John and Yoko’. 

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