Endless Loop: Hurdy Gurdy Man

donovanHave you ever had one of those songs that gets stuck in your head for days…weeks…years? Sure you have. These are the songs that always make the cut. The songs on repeat. We all have them. I have a ton. Welcome back to Endless Loop.

“The Hurdy Gurdy Man” by Donovan

For the longest time, I didn’t know what a hurdy-gurdy was. I just assumed it was some sort of nonsense phrase created by The Butthole Surfers for their song “Hurdy Gurdy Man” from 1991’s Piouhgd. I also did not realize (until college!) that it was a cover of a song originally recorded in the 60’s by psych rock troubadour Donovan.

I later found out that a hurdy-gurdy is a musical instrument.

And that’s just boring.

For some reason, I had a really sinister notion as to what a “Hurdy Gurdy Man” was supposed to be. Donovan’s psych classic, from the 1968 album of the same name, has such an undercurrent of menace to me, that I just assumed it was about a stalker, or killer, or monster of some kind or another. That trippy tremolo effect creating this kind of spooky dissonance (an effect The Buttholes went a little wild with on their own version), lyrics about “shadows cast” and “the crying of humanity,” and the all too serene, chilled vibe of the song make for a disarming kind of siren’s call, a luring lullaby before the serial killer stabs you in the belly, or the beast eats you whole.

But no, it’s really just a minstrel of sorts…singing songs of love.


“Hurdy gurdy, hurdy gurdy, hurdy gurdy gurdy.”


Thomas H Williams

Thomas H Williams

From a bunker somewhere in Central Texas, Thomas H. Williams spends most of his time with his wife, his two sons, and his increasingly neurotic dog. He listens to a lot of music, drinks a lot of excellent beers, and gets out from time to time. For even more shenanigans, visit heavenisanincubator.blogspot.com.

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