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Every three weeks or so, Scottish troubadour Donovan gets a call from his music publisher saying that another company wants to use one of his songs in a film or TV project.
He isn't surprised. "My lyrics and music have always been cinematic," the 65-year-old singer and songwriter said. "I have a song about every human condition."
Donovan will be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame this spring and is best known for psychedelic folk songs such as "Sunshine Superman" and "Catch the Wind." He'll be headlining at the annual BMI Snowball, an official event sanctioned by the Sundance Institute.
Donovan has a long history with musical endeavors that are tied to film, TV and video. A close friend of the Beatles, he contributed lyrics and vocals to "Yellow Submarine," although he describes his most recent album "Ritual Groove" as a "soundtrack to a movie not yet made."
He feels a musical link to film because of his background. "We grew up around art schools in Britain," he said. "We grew up with those in every industrial town. We were great fans of art-house cinema." Because they were influenced by those films, he and his friends began to make what he called "three-minute movies in our mind."
Then there's his now-legendary 1968 trip to India, where he and the Beatles learned transcendental meditation at the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi's ashram. While many of the Beatles became disenchanted with meditation after the trip, Donovan has practiced meditation ever since.
"Meditation can touch a place inside you," the musician said. He advises filmmakers to boost their creativity by listening to inner voices, which would help "stir the cauldron" to create stories about conflict. "You find you still have anger, and fear, but you learn you can let it go." Meditation, consciously or subconsciously, Donovan said, helps the hero in every story grow through trials, as described by scholar Joseph Campbell.
Besides practicing meditation daily, Donovan said he is "the musical wing" of David Lynch's foundation, which has a goal of teaching one million at-risk students to meditate. Donovan was one of the featured artists at a 2009 benefit concert for the David Lynch Foundation at Radio City Music Hall, in addition to Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr.
In addition to Donovan, the California-based folk-rock group Dawes (whom Salt Lake City audiences might remember from the band's opening gig for last summer's sold-out Alison Krauss concert at Red Butte Garden) are slated to perform at the event.
"I have a lot of his records," said Dawes frontman Taylor Goldsmith of Donovan. "It will be an honor to play with him."
Like Donovan, whose work over the decades has been made and used to effect social change, Dawes has become more political in recent months. In December, the band joined Jackson Browne to perform at Occupy Wall Street protests.
"Like a lot of people, when we were asked, I didn't know much about [the Occupy movement]," Goldsmith said. "I learned, and got really excited about it. I hope it's the first sign that for an apathetic generation, [there is] an issue."
Sundance Music Showcase: BMI Snowball
When • Wednesday, Jan. 25 at 8 p.m.
Where • Sundance House (Kimball Art Center), 638 Park Ave. (corner of Main Street and Heber Avenue), Park City
Tickets • A limited number of free tickets will be available to Festival credential holders. Check out the Festival website for event updates and follow them at @sundancefestnow to get all the details including where and when to get tickets