Lovin’ Spoonful – Do You Believe In Magic

All it took was for me to get a greatest hits album by the Lovin’ Spoonful and I was a fan. This song was their debut single and it’s still heard today on the radio and in advertisements. The song peaked at #9 on the Billboard 100 and #3 in Canada in 1965.

They turned down a deal from Phil Spector because they didn’t want to be swallowed up under his name, that was probably a smart move. 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

Sebastian said the autoharp intro was inspired by Martha and the Vandellas Heat Wave.  “It had an ascending chord sequence that I was fascinated with. By chance, I was playing the autoharp, experimenting with electrifying it through this big amplifier. I realized that if I turned a few of the major 7ths to minor 7ths, I would have those chords. I also wanted that groove from  ‘Buzz Buzz Buzz.'”

This was written by John Sebastian, who formed The Lovin’ Spoonful with his friend, Zal Yanovsky. 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.

As the ’60s drew to a close, The Lovin’ Spoonful disbanded and Sebastian started working on a variety of projects. He wrote music for the Care Bear series, published children’s books, made harmonica instruction videos, and, he wrote the theme song to the TV show Welcome Back, Kotter, which was a #1 hit. Dave’s site has a post about this song. 

John 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.”

Alan Merrill who wrote I Love Rock and Roll: “This was mid-’60s. The Lovin’ Spoonful were starting, and Laura Nyro said, ‘Why don’t you audition for the Lovin’ Spoonful? Now you know how to play bass, they’re looking for a bass player. But you’d have to quit school.’ And I said, ‘I don’t want to quit school.’ So I went over to her house after school one day, and she put this record on, and it was ‘Do You Believe In Magic.’ She just looked at me and said, ‘This is what you didn’t go to do.’ And I was like, ‘Oh, s–t, it’s gonna be a #1 record. I blew it. I could have been the 14-year-old bass player in the Lovin’ Spoonful.'”

I wish I had this set…yea I would love to have it at home…the wife wouldn’t like it but I pick my battles well. And this one I would pick…and I’d take the Saint Bernard that appears also.

Do You Believe In Magic

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 rock and 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
It 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 ’til there’s just you and me
And maybe, if the music is right
I’ll meet you tomorrow, sort of 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 a young girl’s soul
Believe in the magic of rock and roll
Believe in the magic that can set you free
Ohh, talking ’bout magic

Do you believe like I believe (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)


Author: Badfinger (Max)

Power Pop fan, Baseball fan, old movie and tv show fan... and a songwriter, bass and guitar player.

24 thoughts on “Lovin’ Spoonful – Do You Believe In Magic”

  1. a magical little song. Thanks for the link and plug! The one thing that really grabbed me in the story was the bassist who was 14 …and turned down the chance to be in the band. Alex Chilton, Steve Winwood, Stevie Wonder…so many really young kids making hit records back then.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. It was a good time to be in a garage band… probably less red tape to go through. They do have a nice little catalog.


    1. One of my faves is ‘Summer In The City.’ And ‘Rain On The Roof.’ Oh and ‘Six O’clock.’ Ooh, oh yeah, and ‘Never Goin’ Back.’ And-ah what the hell, put the whole ‘Best Of’ album on… Sweet innocent pop perfection.

      Liked by 2 people

  2. Their sound was the 60s. Fresh and different with no harsh after taste. Most bands that attempted the song used a 12 string to simulate the autoharp, myself included. Great band, music, and a groovy time to be a teenager in those heady years. Nashville Cats is one of their best tunes.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. On another note, I’m looking forward to the new movie about Elvis and Colonel Tom Parker. Please feel free to do one of your great reviews of this movie when it hits. I might try to, but I’m not the best reviewer.

        Liked by 2 people

      2. I sure will…my son and I have already talked about seeing it. I appreciate the confidence…I’ll try!
        That damn Parker…I wish Elvis would have done away with him .


    1. I always thought of them as a singles band like The Rascals. I liked some of their minor hits like Darling Be Home Soon also… a greatest hits would do.

      Liked by 2 people

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