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Retrieved from Wikipedia:
Atlantis on Wikipedia
Donovan-Atlantis (song).jpg
Single by Donovan
from the album Barabajagal
  • "I Love My Shirt"
  • "To Susan On The West Coast Waiting"
  • November 1968
  • March 1969
FormatVinyl record 7"
RecordedMay 1968
GenreFolk rock[1]
Writer(s)Donovan Leitch
Producer(s)Donovan, Gabriel Mekler
Donovan singles chronology

"Atlantis" is a song written and recorded by Scottish singer/songwriter Donovan. It was released as a single in 1968 (see 1968 in music) and became a worldwide success; becoming a No.1 hit in Switzerland in 1969 (see 1969 in music),[2] No.2 in Germany and South Africa, No.12 in Canada, and No.4 in Austria. In the United States, where it served as the b-side to "To Susan on the West Coast, Waiting," it reached No.7, whilst in the singer's native country the single managed only a modest No.23 placing.

In 2001, Donovan and German pop band No Angels re-recorded the track for the closing credits of the Walt Disney Feature Animation picture Atlantis: The Lost Empire (2001). Included on a concomitant album for the German-speaking music market,[3] it was once more released as a single and re-entered the top five in Austria and Germany.[2]


  • 1 1968 version
    • 1.1 Theme
    • 1.2 Possible Paul McCartney contribution
    • 1.3 Release and reception
    • 1.4 Charts
  • 2 2001 version
    • 2.1 Production and recording
    • 2.2 Release and reception
    • 2.3 Music video
    • 2.4 Track listings
    • 2.5 Credits and personnel
    • 2.6 Charts
      • 2.6.1 Weekly charts
      • 2.6.2 Year-end charts
    • 2.7 Certifications
  • 3 References
  • 4 External links


The introduction is a quiet monologue regarding the idea that Atlantis was a highly advanced antediluvian civilization, and that Atlantean colonists were the basis of the mythological gods of ancient times. Aware of their fate, the Atlanteans sent out ships to carry their masters to safety, and these people were responsible for bringing civilization and culture to primitive humans. When the song begins in earnest, it conveys the message that the singer's true love may be in Atlantis. The overall theme is common for the 1960s: fanciful mythology as the symbol of the counterculture movement, with the hope that true love will be found if ever Atlantis can be reached.

Possible Paul McCartney contribution

Many believe that the song "Atlantis" features the background vocals of Paul McCartney. Backing up that claim is Harry Castleman and Walter Podrazik's book, All Together Now: The First Complete Beatles Discography, 1961—1975 (New York: Ballantine Books, 1976, p. 384), which states that McCartney not only provided the background vocals but also played the tambourine on the song.

However, according to Donovan in a 2008 interview with Goldmine Magazine, McCartney did not sing the backing vocals.[4] The album's liner notes, which state that the song was recorded in Los Angeles in November 1968, do not list McCartney as a performer on the album.

Also, the works of Beatles expert Mark Lewisohn do not support the statement. Neither The Complete Beatles Chronicles (New York: Harmony Books, 1992) nor The Beatles Day by Day: A Chronology 1962-1989 (New York: Harmony Books, 1987 & 1990) mentions McCartney's participation on this song. According to Lewisohn's chronology, (Lewisohn, The Beatles Day by Day, page 110) McCartney spent the month of November 1968 mostly at his farm in Scotland.

Release and reception

Contract disputes at the time caused a complicated series of different releases in the United Kingdom and United States. It was originally released in the UK as a single with "I Love My Shirt" as the B-side. In 1969 it was released in the US on the album Barabajagal. The LP was not released in the UK, however, and "Atlantis" was next released in the US as the B-side to "To Susan on the West Coast Waiting".

The song was not deemed likely to be a hit in the US because of its length and the fact that the first third of the song is spoken prose and therefore not "radio-friendly". It was for this reason that, despite its success in Europe, "Atlantis" was demoted to B-side status. However, the record company A&R executives were proved wrong when the popularity of "Atlantis" far surpassed that of its A-side. The song was quite successful, reaching #7 on the Billboard charts, and the song itself became an anthem of the hippie movement.

2001 version

Single by No Angels
from the album Elle'ments
ReleasedNovember 19, 2001
  • Download
  • CD maxi single
StudioPark Studios,
  • Cheyenne
  • Polydor
  • Zeitgeist
Writer(s)Donovan Leitch
Producer(s)Leslie Mándoki
No Angels singles chronology

Production and recording

In the late 1990s, Walt Disney Feature Animation started production on Atlantis: The Lost Empire, an animated science fiction/action film, based on the Atlantis saga. Interested in slipping his 1968 version into the film soundtrack, Donovan immediately opened negotiations with the studios; however Disney was barely interested in the song and plans eventually fell through.[3] By 2000, Disney had committed German producer Leslie Mándoki to produce a concomitant album for the German-speaking music markets, entitled Stars Inspired by Atlantis.[3] After stumbling over the original song, Mándoki approached Donovan by phone, describing him his idea of a collaboration with German newcomers No Angels, with whom Mándoki had previously worked on their debut Elle'ments (2001), and a few days later Donovan and the band met at the Lake Starnberg to start recording.[3]

Release and reception

"Atlantis" served as the band's fourth single along with "When the Angels Sing", a midtempo ballad from their debut album Elle'ments (2001). Physical CD singles of the double-A single were released on November 19, 2001 by Cheyenne Records.[5] The maxi single includes the duet version, the Submarine Mix of "Atlantis" and three new remixes "When the Angels Sing".[5]

Upon its release, "When the Angels Sing"/"Atlantis" debuted at number five on the German Singles Chart in the week of December 3, 2001.[6] It spent six weeks within the top ten and fell out of the chart in the 14th weeks,[6] becoming the 79th highest-selling single of 2001 in Germany.[7] In Austria, the double-A single debuted at number ten on the Ö3 Austria Top 40.[8] It peaked at number five in its third week and spent four more weeks within the top ten, leaving the top 75 after 14 weeks.[8] In Switzerland, "When the Angels Sing"/"Atlantis" entered the Swiss Hitparade at number 56 in the week of December 2.[9] It reached its peak, number 16, in its second week, becoming the band's first single to miss the top ten. It fell out of the top 100 after twelve weeks on the chart.[9]

Music video

The single's music video was directed by Hannes Rossacher for DoRo Productions and shot in Berlin, Germany in fall 2001.[3] It shows Donovan and the band in a recording studio accented by underwater settings, backdrops, and scenes inspired by the animated movie.

Credits and personnel

Credits adapted from the liner notes of Elle'ments.[5]


  1. ^ Fontenot, Robert (29 October 2015). "What is Folk-Rock Music?". ThoughtCo. Retrieved 12 March 2017. 
  2. ^ a b "Chart History". Swisscharts. Archived from the original on 2006-05-11. Retrieved 2007-12-22. 
  3. ^ a b c d e Peitz, Dirk (2001-11-23). "Mit 'Atlantis' aus der Versenkung". Rhein Zeitung. Retrieved 2007-12-23. 
  4. ^ Goldmine Magazine, October 10, 2008.
  5. ^ a b c d "When the Angels Sing / Atlantis". Discogs. Retrieved 2017-04-13. 
  6. ^ a b c " – No Angels & Donovan Single-Chartverfolgung" (in German). Media Control Charts. PhonoNet GmbH. Retrieved 2012-07-06.
  7. ^ a b "Top 100 Singles-Jahrescharts (2002)". Retrieved 2015-11-22. 
  8. ^ a b c " – No Angels & Donovan – Atlantis / When The Angels Sing" (in German). Ö3 Austria Top 40. Retrieved 2012-07-06.
  9. ^ a b c " – No Angels & Donovan – Atlantis / When The Angels Sing". Swiss Singles Chart. Retrieved 2012-07-06.
  10. ^ "Austrian single certifications – No Angels – Atlantis" (in German). IFPI Austria. Retrieved 2017-04-13.  Enter No Angels in the field Interpret. Enter Atlantis in the field Titel. Select single in the field Format. Click Suchen
  11. ^ "Gold-/Platin-Datenbank (No Angels; 'When the Angels Sing')" (in German). Bundesverband Musikindustrie. Retrieved 2017-04-13. 

External links

  • Mistakes in Donovan's Atlantis
  • Lyrics of this song at MetroLyrics

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