The Lovin' Spoonful

Do You Believe in Magic?

Composed by John Sebastian

Song Review by

"Do You Believe in Magic" was the first hit for the Lovin' Spoonful, reaching the Top Ten in 1965. Not only did that establish them as one of the first and most important folk-rock groups, but the song itself has also lasted as one of the very best rock songs to celebrate rock'n'roll itself. Although it, and the Lovin' Spoonful, have been classified as folk-rock, "Do You Believe in Magic" also owed a lot to pop, soul, and the British Invasion in its magical blend. The folk elements, perhaps, were in the jug band sense of fun that was a Lovin' Spoonful specialty, as well as singer and composer John Sebastian's autoharp, an instrument mostly associated with folk music. The autoharp could be heard on the catchy opening series of chords, which owed something to the British Invasion in its cheery mix of cheery major and minor chords. Sebastian has said, though, that the chord progressions of the song were largely based on some of the ones being used by Motown in the mid-1960s. It was a catchy tune, as many mid-1960s hits were, but it was different from much else in the hit parade in its veneration of rock'n'roll as an almost spiritual healing force. This reflected, of course, the joy of dancing to rock'n'roll experienced by the teenagers that were the group's primary fan base. But it also, if only indirectly, also reflected the joy that folkies such as those in the Lovin' Spoonful were discovering when they were led back to rock'n'roll by the Beatles and other British groups. That's not to diminish the quality of the music itself, highlighted by almost countryish flecks of electric guitar responding to the lyrics throughout; a brief but memorable low, almost growling guitar solo; and hauntingly bittersweet backup harmonies by the group during the last parts of the verses.

Appears On

Year Artist/Album Label Time AllMusic Rating
Do You Believe in Magic 1965 Buddha Records / Sony BMG
The Best of the Lovin' Spoonful 1967 Kama Sutra
Greatest Hits [Kama Sutra] 1970 Hollywood 2:02
No Image 1979 51 West
No Image 1983 Buddah
No Image 1988 Castle Music Ltd. 2:08
Best of 60's Sunshine Rock 1988
Various Artists
Priority Records 2:04
Anthology 1990 Rhino 2:04
History of Rock, Vol. 8 [Collectables 1992] 1990
Various Artists
Collectables 2:05
Sullivan Years: Happy Together 1991
Various Artists
TVT
The Buddah Box 1993
Various Artists
Essex 2:03
The Best of the Lovin' Spoonful [Rhino] 1994 Rhino
The Best of Folk Rock 1995
Various Artists
K-Tel Distribution 2:04
Do You Believe in Magic/Hums 1995 Smithsonian Folkways Recordings 2:04
I Shot Andy Warhol 1996
Original Soundtrack
TAG Recordings / Atlantic 2:06
Only Rock 'N Roll 1965-1969: #1 Radio Hits 1996
Various Artists
Rhino / JCI Associated Labels 2:04
The Very Best of the Lovin' Spoonful [Music Club] 1996 Music Club Records
Do You Believe in Magic & Other Hits [Rhino] 1997 Rhino Flashback 2:07
Best of Buddah [BMG] 1997
Various Artists
BMG Special Products 2:02
Whole Lotta Rock: 1964-1965 1997
Various Artists
BCI-Eclipse Distribution / Eclipse Music Group 2:04
Summer In The City 1997 BMG Special Products 2:03
Rock 'N Roll Relix: 1960-1969 1997
Various Artists
Eclipse Music Group 2:06
No Image 1997
Various Artists
2:02
The Number Ones: The 60's 1998
Various Artists
Simitar Distribution 2:04
Greatest Hits [Delta] 1998 Delta Distribution 2:03
The Very Best of Lovin' Spoonful [Camden] 1998 DJ Specialist 2:03
The Parent Trap [1998 Original Soundtrack] 1998
Original Soundtrack
Hollywood 2:06
Orlando Magic Greatest Hits 1998
Various Artists
Alphabet City Sports Records / Alphabet City 1:58
The 60's [Original Television Soundtrack] 1999
Original TV Soundtrack
Mercury / Island/Def Jam / Universal Music 2:04
Greatest Hits of the 60s, Vol. 2 [Platinum Disc #1] 1999
Various Artists
Platinum Disc 2:05
Chartbusters USA, Vol. 1 1999
Various Artists
Ace 2:05
Soundtracks of Love: Hooked on a Feeling 1999
Various Artists
Unison 2:01
Live at the Hotel Seville 1999 Varese 2:58
Treasury of Folk: Folk Rock 1964-1968 1999
Various Artists
Time/Life Music 2:07
No Image 1999
Various Artists
Image Entertainment
Greatest Hits of the 60's [Platinum] 2000
Various Artists
Platinum Disc
Positively 60's 2000
Various Artists
Capitol 2:06
Greatest Hits [Buddha] 2000 Buddha Records 2:08
The Official American Bandstand Library of Rock & Roll 2000
Various Artists
Atlantic 2:00
Entertainment Weekly: The Greatest Hits 1965 2001
Various Artists
Buddha Records 2:06
Cosmic Grooves: Aries 2001
Various Artists
Rhino 2:06
The Best of the Lovin' Spoonful [Paradiso] 2001 Paradiso 2:08
Red, White & Rock 2002
Various Artists
Rhino 2:07
The Folk Years: Reason to Believe 2002
Various Artists
Time/Life Music 2:06
History of Rock, Vol. 1-10 2003
Various Artists
Collectables 2:05
The Very Best of 60's Gold 2003
Various Artists
Time/Life Music 2:06
1965: The Soundtrack 2003
Various Artists
Castle Music Ltd. 2:02
Peace Protest: 20 Sixties Classics 2003
Various Artists
Crimson Productions 2:02
The Folk Years [Box Set] 2003
Various Artists
Time/Life Music 2:06
Platinum & Gold Collection 2003 BMG International 2:07
WCBS FM: Motown, Soul and Rock N Roll: Motown 2003
Various Artists
Collectables 2:06
Singers and Songwriters: The Folk Years 2003
Various Artists
Time/Life Music
Lovin' You 2005 ARM (Association Of Recorded Music) / BCI/ARM 2:04
Groovy 60's 2005
Various Artists
Green Hill Productions 2:06
Date Movie 2006
Original Soundtrack
Lakeshore Records 2:06
Singles As & Bs 2006 Repertoire 2:06
Sensational Sixties [BMG Special Products] 2006
Various Artists
BMG Special Products 2:03
Absolute 60s Legends 2007
Various Artists
Crimson Productions 2:02
Sugar, Sugar: 60s Pop 2007
Various Artists
Sony BMG 2:06
100 Hits: Pop 2008
Various Artists
100 Hits / Crimson Productions / Demon 2:02
Super Hits 2008 Sbme Special Mkts. 2:06
Original Album Classics 2012 Legacy / Sony Music
No Image
Various Artists
Time/Life Music
The California Sound of the 60's
Various Artists
Scana 2:01
No Image
Various Artists
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