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  • Annie's Greek tale tugged at me. I found myself in the basement, opening filing cabinets and looking for fading prints on cheap photographic paper. I found one that will do.

    It's from 1982, winter - or maybe 1983, it doesn't really matter that much. What does matter was that it's in Columbia, Missouri, and I was living in a ground floor apartment in this house. The one with the extension and the windows to the right of the porch.

    It was cold and the cockroaches didn't go away in the winter. It was my second year of marriage and already I had glimmers that perhaps it wasn't such a great idea after all. Most of all, though, I simply felt homesick.

    It was in such a mood that I came across Donovan's LP, "Mellow Yellow" in my wife's collection.

    I hadn't heard it before. It was one of those U.S.-only editions that seemed obligatory for every British Invasion artist of the 1960s right up to "Sgt. Pepper". I played it and fell in love with it immediately.

    I fell in love with it because many of the songs ached with that same homesickness that I was feeling. "Writer In The Sun" obliquely recalls Donovan's days in Greece when he really was not sure if he had a recording career ahead of him or not. My favorite tune, though, was "Hampstead Incident".

    It's one of those whimsical baroque arrangements that marked a particularly British strand of psychedelia in the mid-1960s. I never could work out what the "incident" was - probably a particularly colorful trip. But the London references and the mournful melody hit me hard, reminding me of where I had just come from and where I really wished I could go back.

    Still, the London Donovan was referencing was already a decade out of date. The London I knew was the London of The Clash and Siouxsie & The Banshees, and here I was in small Midwestern town where you were lucky to find anyone who had even heard of The Sex Pistols, let alone actually heard them. I was probably the only person in a radius of hundreds of miles with an EMI copy of "Anarchy In The UK". Perhaps the 60s' provenance of "Mellow Yellow" helped me appreciate it all the more. It was out of its time and place, I was out of my time and place.

    The LP went with my wife when the marriage broke up. It was only a couple of years ago that I noticed that it had been reissued on CD. I bought a copy. It still held its magic. Rather amazingly, considering my world is completely different nowadays. That's the thing with good music - it always has something to offer wherever and whoever you are.

    Naturally, having written this, I had to look for the house on Google Maps. It's still there, 109 Ripley Street, painted gray for Google.
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