I have had an on/off relationship with the work of Van Morrison, since I first heard the songs, ‘Baby Please Don’t Go’, and ‘Gloria’ by his band Them, in 1964. He is now seventy years old, and has been recording non-stop since that time, with his latest release in March 2015. He has written songs that have become classics, (‘Have I Told You Lately That I Love You’) and others that have been covered by other bands. (‘Jackie Wilson Said’)
Starting a solo career in 1967, he has released a record almost every year since, including some that have become huge sellers, such as ‘Astral Weeks’, ‘Moondance’, and ‘Tupelo Honey.’ Although he is from Northern Ireland, he spends much of his time in America, and has also collaborated with many famous people, from Dr. John, to Cliff Richard. He has received a Knighthood and an O.B.E. for his services to music, as well as being entered into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. His songwriting and musical talents are undeniable, and he is one of the most enduring British artists in popular music.
Over the years, he has released forty-seven albums, if you include live concert recordings, and compilations of hits. I have bought twenty-six of these, enjoying some songs that border on poetry, and others that are jazz-infused, or soulful. I also went to see him perform live in London, which was one of the great disappointments of my life. He failed to live up to his studio recordings, and rushed through his repertoire staring at the floor, departing the stage without an encore.
But I cannot deny that I am a fan. His distinctive tones, the wonderful song construction and lyrics, and a style uniquely his own, have left a wonderful legacy of music for generations to enjoy. So what to choose, to have just one song to sum up my years of devotion to this man? I can exclude most of the work after 2000, as I stopped buying his increasingly self-indulgent albums after that. I don’t want to use ‘Moondance’, or ‘Brown-Eyed Girl’, or one of the many others that are so well known.
Here’s my choice then. My tribute to the singer known as, ‘Van The Man.’ I was eighteen when I bought the vinyl album, ‘Moondance’ that includes this track. And listening to it today brought so many memories flooding back, and sent a familiar shiver up my spine.