MELLOW YELLOW, THE MAYOR,  DONOVAN AND  AN ELECTRIC BANANA  WHICH WENT PEAR SHAPED

THE TRUE STORY OF A FABLED ARTWORK  WHICH USED THE WRONG RECIPE

Back in the mid 1960s, the days of flower power and a few substances, other than alcohol, which could mess with your head  I was fortunate enough to be living and working in the middle of London. 

Naturally I was cautious about imbibing in substances other than water or eating anything more adventurous than a cucumber sandwich.

At that time, around 1965,  a young troubadour by the name of Donovan was making waves in the music world. His lyrics were a little difficult to understand but a modicum of research has revealed that he may have been the unwitting instigator of the great artwork in Fremantle which is now refusing to leave. 

MELLOW YELLOW

One of his hits from around 1966 was ‘Mellow Yellow’. Nobody has actually been able to work out what it was all about, let alone Donovan himself.  

One verse runs:

Electrical banana

Is gonna be a sudden craze

Electrical banana

Is bound to be the very next phase

Nobody actually knew what an Electric Banana was.  Donovan was unable to offer a clear explanation and there may have been a good reason.

However one story is that an Electric Banana was made by getting a couple of sticks of Juicy Fruit chewing gum and inserting them under the skin of the ‘nana. The fruit was then left to mature over a few days and, in fact, go a little mouldy. Hence ‘Mellow Yellow’ Then, and there are several versions of this, you simply peel the banana and eat it, gum and all. The net results were some pretty wild hallucinations.

Some people say it didn’t work. I confess my memory is not serving me well.

FAST FORWARD TO FREO FESTIVAL 2017

It does appear that our mayor  dreamt that a  lot of banana shaped curves, draped artistically on the walls of the West End buildings, would serve the city well. 

Thus the dream of Brad and Felice the Artist came to fruition (fruit being the operative word). The High Street was decorated with banana peel look-alike graphics. It worked and the world woke up to the dream.

Sadly, or at least amusingly, the artwork is refusing to leave us and true to the legend, going a little mouldy. It’s now supplying endless entertainment. It is, as the mayor likes to expound – a sustainable dream come true. 

MISSING: PAINT STRIPPER AND AN  ELECTRIC DILDO

Those of us who have been around since well before the last rains know the original recipe for the Mellow Yellow bananas didn’t work too well. 

A modified version was derived using Dichloromethane injected into the bananas. It apparently worked wonders. But here’s the real rub – Dichloromethane is  nothing more than paint stripper! Had the Mayor used an up-dated recipe for the idea in the first place maybe the art would disappear immediately, just like any other hallucinogen. (I’m not sure up-dated is the right word)

Of course it doesn’t end there. Donovan did at one time confess he’d heard an electric banana is a yellow, battery powered, dildo. 

The mind boggles but there may be enough of them in the sex shop in High Street to supply council members with a few to strip paint, or whatever moves their fancy. I didn’t use ‘up-dated’ in this paragraph but was tempted.

Here are the lyrics to Mellow Yellow. Maybe they can sing along to them while they work and dream.

MELLOW YELLOW (Written by © Donovan Leith, circa 1965)

I’m just mad about Saffron

Saffron’s mad about me

I’m just mad about Saffron

She’s just mad about me

They call me mellow yellow

(Quite rightly)

They call me mellow yellow

(Quite rightly)

They call me mellow yellow

I’m just mad about Fourteen

Fourteen’s mad about me

I’m just mad about Fourteen

She’s just mad about me

They call me mellow yellow

They call me mellow yellow

(Quite rightly)

They call me mellow yellow

Born high forever to fly

Wind velocity nil

Wanna high forever to fly

If you want your cup I will fill

They call me mellow yellow

(Quite rightly)

They call me mellow yellow

(Quite rightly)

They call me mellow yellow

Electrical banana

Is gonna be a sudden craze

Electrical banana

Is bound to be the very next phase

They call me mellow yellow

(Quite rightly)

They call me mellow yellow

(Quite rightly)

They call me mellow yellow

Saffron, yeah

I’m just mad about her

I’m just mad about Saffron

She’s just mad about me

They call me mellow yellow

(Quite rightly)

They call me mellow yellow

(Quite rightly)

They call me mellow yellow

Roger Garwood

Editor: <editorbackchat@gmail.com

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Freo Basking in its Festival

Fremantle Blessed

I first went to The Blessing of the Fleet back in 1977. Since then I’ve photographed about thirty-three or four of them.

The Blessing of the Feet – as my son Ben used to call it – always seems like the real start of summer. It is a religious ceremony held with great dignity, the visible end of weeks of preparation planned by the committee who work from a small shed in White Gum Valley. It has now become central to the Fremantle Festival which allows the city and some of its creative extroverts to go gang busters at exhibitions, a massive street parade, concerts, coffee competitions, pasta eating competitions … and so on.

Roll on Summer

The Freo festival rolls us into our summer, the sea breeze makes life bearable and Christmas is just around the corner. Then we have the buskers’ festival (as I still insist calling it) at Easter, acting as the backstop to summer. Warm nights. cold beers, parades of vintage yank tanks and the occasional outbreak of music on The Strip underline what the Fremantle lifestyle is about.

Here, for a kickoff, are a few pictures of this years 65th anniversary of the Blessing of the Fleet as well as some dating back nearly 40 years. With the co-operation of the BoF committee and in tandem with a photographic colleague, Lidia D’Opera, there will be a book launched, hopefully at the beginning of next years festival, which will be a history of the event with pictures dating from 1948 through to this years significant anniversary.

All pictures © Roger Garwood & Lidia D’Opera 2013

Copyright Lidia D'Opera

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Fremantle Harbour Fog April 2012