In 1965, Sebastian's group, The Lovin' Spoonful, released the song as the first single from their debut album Do You Believe in Magic. The song was well received by the public and became a top ten hit on the Billboard Hot 100, peaking at #9. According to the lyrics, the magic referenced in the title is the power of music to supply happiness and freedom to both those who make it and those who listen to it.
The song became a top forty Hot 100 hit again in 1977 when Shaun Cassidy released his cover as a single. Other notable artists who have remade the song include John Mellencamp, who released his version as a track on his 1976 album Chestnut Street Incident, Bud Shank, and Randy VanWarmer.