The 31st of August is always a Red Letter Day for The Immortal Jukebox because it’s the birthday of Van Morrison whose glorious recordings have been the keystone of my musical life for for nigh on 50 years.
Happy 73rd Van!
No one brings together all the traditions like Van.
In his songs, singing and performance you can feel he has viscerally understood and integrated into his art; The Blues, Soul, Rhythm and Blues, Folk, Country and Jazz – all delivered with blazing Celtic devotion.
Leadbelly is there.
Ray Charles is there.
Hank Williams is there.
Arthur Alexander and Sam Cooke are there.
Jimmy Witherspoon and Mose Allison are there.
Mahalia Jackson and Rosetta Tharpe are there.
The McPeakes and O’Carolan are there.
Fats Domino and Jerry Lee Lewis are there.
Bob Dylan is always there.
In Van it all comes together – traditions respected and added to creating a revelatory synthesis.
In celebration today a rhapsodic gem from 1966 pointing the way to the earth shattering triumphs of his solo career.
I remember at college playing a Them compilation for a friend and saying .. well here’s he honouring Ray Charles, here John Lee Hooker, here Bo Diddley and here Bob Dylan and then My Lonely Sad Eyes came on and we both shouted in exultation – here it’s all of them and it’s pure George Ivan Morrison!
Fill me my cup!
Fill me my cup!
Sparkling Wine indeed!
When Van sings like this he joins the Immortals.
You can pick out almost any line, any phrase or word and be dumbstruck by his vocal brilliance.
There’s a thesis to be written on the way he way he sings the word, ‘Lonely’ alone or on the oceanic surge he gives to :
Throw me a kiss
Across a crowded room
Some sunny windswept afternoon
There’s none too soon for me to miss.
He’s singing the Song and the Song is singing Him.
Into the Mystic.
Into the Mystic.
There are more Posts about Van than any other artist here on The Jukebox so, in case you missed one or would like to be reminded of an old favourite here’s the Van Compendium for your delectation and delight!
Brown Eyed Girl’.
An introduction telling the tale of my headlong plunge into obsession following my first hearing of Van’s best known song.
‘Don’t Look Back’.
A meditation on Time featuring 2 astounding versions of John Lee Hooker’s tender Blues Ballad. One a reaching for the stars take of a teenager the second the work of a fully realised master musician.
A meditation on family, friendship and loss. How the shadows lengthen! Sung with infinite tenderness and bardic authority.
‘In The Days Before Rock ‘n’ Roll’.
A miraculous meditation on the persistence of memory, the power of the radio and the post war world as seen by a young Irish mystic.
A rhapsodic meditation on the nurturing, redemptive power of Love. A Hallelujah!
‘All in the Game‘.
A meditation on the carousel we all ride. It’s been sung by many singers but never like this!
A Founding Father joyously celebrated by a Master from the next generation.
‘Sometimes We Cry‘.
Bringing it all back home to singing on the street corner Days. The sweetness of Doo-Wop seasoned with wry maturity.
‘I Cover the Waterfront’.
Van and John Lee Hooker, Blues Brothers and Soul Friends, conjure up ancient tides.
‘Buona Sera Signorina‘.
Van puts his party hat on and romps through the Louis Prima classic.
Van takes a stroll along the strand and suspends Time.
Once, Now and Ever.
A Pilgrim’s glimpses of Eternity in the everyday.
Brand New Day
Born again each Day with The Dawn.
Happy Birthday Van!