Swan Song: Donovan

The folk legend's ideal finale

How would you spend your last day alive? Folk legend Donovan will be channeling his final songs…

Where would you like to wake up?
I’m on Cat Island in the Bahamas, a very isolated tropical paradise. I’m on a beach on Cat Island.

What’s left to achieve on your last day?
I’d need instant satellite communication on my website and a camera. The achievement now would be to channel the last songs before I drop the body. If I was healthy and not ill I would like to spend the hours composing on camera online with as many people that wanted to experience the last day of song writing.

Who would be at your final dinner?
My wife Linda would be there of course, and I guess all the children and all my grandchildren I’d like them to be there. Danny Thompson, to play bass. John Sebastian, a dear friend, would be there to play guitar.

What’s on the menu?
I think the most important thing during this life was rice and vegetables, and Linda would do it in the way she knows how. Just brown rice and pure vegetables, that’s it!

What would be the after-dinner entertainment?
I’d like Rita Marley to be there, who lives in Nassau in the Bahamas. She’s got a hotel called The Bob Marley Hotel. Maybe I’d asked Rita to come, and maybe she could bring Ziggy and his band, so maybe the entertainment would be the Bob Marley family music.

How would you like to die?
No pain of course. I’d be fully conscious of what’s happening, and I would choose to die – I’m not dying from an ailment. I know that it’s time to drop the body. And I would be meditating with Linda at the time, so I would enter what they call the bardo in the Tibetan Book Of The Dead. I would be completely at peace with the world and the universe.

What would your final words be?
It occurs to me there’s a piece of music that I’ve never recorded, and it’s about Linda. It’s a comment on my life and my love: “I was branded for my beauty / Yet protected by my art / Many plundered me for booty / Only one did steal my heart / How she keeps it in her casket still remains a mystery / Like the moon rise in a sunset / Like the silence of the sea.”

What would you have written on your gravestone?
I know what I want to have, but I don’t know if Linda would like it. I thought I’d have: ‘He played between the notes.’

Who would you like to meet at the pearly gates of Heaven?
Linda, of course. She probably would be there anyway, in another dimension. We are only living in our bodies here, we as pure spirits. So I’d meet the spirit of Linda and she’d say, ‘You took your time, what kept you?’

What is your vision of heaven?
It’s not a vision. The reality of the spiritual world is ever-present; it was never born and will never die. It is a constant. Only the manifestations are born and die, and the body is the same – I will decompose into the elements. But heaven is only a mantra away.

If you could be resurrected the next day what would you come back as?
It’s very possible that this is my last life and I won’t come back. But if Linda’s coming back, I think I’ll come back too.

Donovan performs ‘Sunshine Superman’ with the London Contemporary Orchestra and some of his greatest hits at the Royal Albert Hall on June 3rd.

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