♫ Do You Believe In Magic? ♫

Last night, I played Creeque Alley by The Mamas and The Papas, and part of the music trivia for that song was the fact that it referenced a number of other musicians and groups from that period (1960s).  Two of the people mentioned were John Sebastian and Zal Yanovsky, two members of the group The Lovin’ Spoonful.  In a comment, our friend Clive from across the pond subtly hinted that perhaps that was an indication that I should play a song by The Lovin’ Spoonful sometime soon.  So, here it is sometime soon!  My first inclination was to play Summer in the City, even though it’s so cold here tonight that I have the heat on!  But alas, I just played that one a few months ago — the only Lovin’ Spoonful song I’ve played, as it happens.  So then I was torn between Do You Believe in Magic?, Did You Ever Have to Make Up Your Mind, and You Didn’t Have to be so Nice.  Magic won out, but feel free to tell me your favourite!

The song was written by band member John Sebastian and released in 1965.  It charted at #3 in Canada, #9 in the U.S., and nowhere else that I can find!

Sebastian and Yanovsky were in a group called The Mugwumps, and made a name for themselves playing clubs in Greenwich Village. When the other Mugwumps – Mama Cass Elliot and Denny Doherty – moved to California and formed The Mamas And The Papas, they formed the band and Sebastian began focusing on songwriting. The Lovin’ Spoonful started playing electric instruments to get away from the folk music sound and attract a younger contemporary rock audience.

The Lovin’ Spoonful played regularly at a famous club called The Night Owl Cafe. Said Sebastian:

“We were playing pretty steadily for the local people from Greenwich Village who were part of the jazz scene or part of the kind of downtown ‘in crowd.’ They were ‘finger poppers,’ guys who played chess, ‘beatniks.’ But there was this one particular night as we were playing, I looked out in the audience and saw this beautiful 16-year-old girl just dancing the night away. And I remember Zal and I just elbowed each other the entire night because to us that young girl symbolized the fact that our audience was changing, that maybe they had finally found us. I wrote ‘Do You Believe In Magic’ the next day.”

Turning down an offer from Phil Spector because they didn’t want to “be swallowed up under his name,” The Lovin’ Spoonful signed to a new record label called Kama Sutra. This was the first song they recorded for the label, and it was the first of a string of hits for the group.

Sadly, the group’s fame ‘n fortune was to be short-lived.  The beginning of the end was when Zal Yanovsky was arrested for possession of marijuana in San Francisco and and pressured by police to name his supplier. He was a Canadian citizen and feared that he would be deported and barred from re-entering the U.S., so he complied. The incident resulted in a public backlash from the counterculture against the band, with a full-page ad in the Los Angeles Free Press (according to music critic Ralph Gleason) “urging people not to buy Spoonful records and not to attend their concerts …”

Although Yanovsky went on to release a solo single and album, his musical career was severely harmed.  The same month, May 1967, John Sebastian also left the group.  Although they had a couple of moderate hits after that, the band never fully recovered and in early 1969, they split up.

This song has been featured on the soundtracks of a number of movies, and is a popular song in ads, having been featured in ads for Mercedes Benz, McDonald’s, Burger King, Kohl’s, Dash Detergent and the Trump Casino.  (That last one maybe makes me like the song a bit less, but I’ll get over it)

Do You Believe in Magic
The Lovin’ Spoonful

Do you believe in magic in a young girl’s heart?
How the music can free her whenever it starts
And it’s magic if the music is groovy
It makes you feel happy like an old-time movie
I’ll tell you about the magic, and it’ll free your soul
But it’s like trying to tell a stranger ’bout a rock ‘n’ roll

If you believe in magic don’t bother to choose
If it’s jug band music or rhythm and blues
Just go and listen it’ll start with a smile
That won’t wipe off your face no matter how hard you try
Your feet start tapping, and you can’t seem to find
How you got there, so just blow your mind

If you believe in magic come along with me
We’ll dance until morning till there’s just you and me
And maybe if the music is right
I’ll meet you tomorrow sorta late at night
And we’ll go dancing baby, then you’ll see
How the magic’s in the music, and the music’s in me

Yeah, do you believe in magic
Yeah, believe in the magic of the young girl’s soul
Believe in the magic of a rock ‘n’ roll
Believe in the magic that can set you free
Ahh, talking ’bout the magic

Do you believe in magic?
(Do you believe like I believe?) Do you believe, believer?
(Do you believe like I believe?) Do you believe in magic?
(Do you believe like I believe?) Do you believe in magic?

Source: Musixmatch
Songwriters: John Sebastian
Do You Believe in Magic lyrics © Trio Music Company, Alley Music Corp.