2. Van Morrison

George Ivan “Van” Morrison is a singer/songwriter from Belfast, Northern Ireland. An only child, Morrison’s working class upbringing proved to be ideal for a future musician. His mother was outgoing, and loved to sing and dance at gatherings of friends and family, while his more reserved father was fascinated by American culture, and an avid collector of American country, folk, jazz and blues records. Van received his first guitar when he was eleven, and soon thereafter was participating in local music groups. His broad music tastes prompted him to learn the saxophone and harp, and by the time he finished secondary school, he was working full-time and playing music in Irish showbands.

In April 1964, Morrison answered an advertisement for a harp player for a rhythm and blues band. He showed up at the audition to check out the local talent, although he was already rehearsing with another superior group, who began a short but impressive residency at the Maritime Hotel in Belfast. Soon thereafter this quintet changed their name from The Gamblers to Them. Within a couple weeks they were filling the room beyond capacity. Though shy when not performing, Morrison became a dynamo on stage, singing and jumping and playing his saxophone and harp, and overnight Them became Ireland’s greatest rhythm and blues band. At the time, Belfast was considered a remote outpost of the British Empire, but word of their popularity filtered down to Dick Rowe of Decca Records, who went to see the band in Belfast and then invited them to London for an audition.

Van Morrison (b. 1945), singer, songwriter, guitar, alto saxophone, harmonica

Sir Van Morrison with his daughter Shana Morrison at his knighthood ceremony, February, 2016:


Big Time Operators

The record business is historically predatory, where naive musicians, eager for popularity, sign record contracts that benefit the company.  Without proper legal representation, the musicians sign away most of their rights to the music, and some companies do their best to keep the musicians poor, hungry, and reliant on continued success. Once the musicians no longer produce popular music, they are ignored or discarded. The next few years of Van Morrison’s professional career were traumatic, as he endured two consecutive bad record contracts, experiences that shaped his public persona and music for decades afterwards.

Them’s recorded output of about fifty songs between 1964 and 1966 has aged well. In hindsight, they belong with the Rolling Stones, Fleetwood Mac and John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers as among the best British rhythm and blues bands. They had a couple of hit songs, though their greatest and most influential song, “Gloria”, was relegated to the B-side of their powerful, uptempo rendition of the blues standard “Baby Please Don’t Go”, considered by many the definitive reading of the song. “Baby Please Don’t Go” b/w “Gloria” has to rank among the greatest singles of all time, and for “Gloria” to go unrecognized as a hit song by Decca executives is, at best, perplexing.

Restless to capitalize on the initial success, band manager Phil Solomon contacted New York pop producer Bert Berns to come to London and work with the band. The collaboration produced a second hit song, the Berns composition “Here Comes The Night”, but more importantly, it signaled the beginning of a short but important partnership between Berns and Morrison. When Them broke apart in the summer of 1966, Morrison accepted Berns’s invitation to come to New York and work for Bang Records as a solo performer.

If anything, the record contract with Bang was even more onerous than the Decca deal.  It gave the company the rights to Morrison’s music for five years, as well as full ownership of the master recordings for all songs.  Even when Morrison had legitimate work expenses, he found it impossible to earn a living wage, as creative accounting methods denied the artist his expenses and earned royalties.  Berns’s association with frightening “associates” discouraged the artist from excessive complaint.  Musically, the brief collaboration with Berns was valuable  — Morrison learned much about music production, plus he created “Brown Eyed Girl”, his first solo hit and still his best known song.  But when Berns died suddenly in late 1967, and Berns’s wife Ilene cited the artist’s combative relationship with her deceased husband as a contributing factor, Morrison was faced with the most harrowing of circumstances.  The unsympathetic widow bound him to his agreed contract, while shadowy criminal figures discouraged Morrison from seeking employment elsewhere.

Rescued By Warner Brothers

Van escaped New York City for Cambridge, Massachusetts, where he performed incognito with a trio for several months.  It was during this time that the songs and sound for Astral Weeks, his first major collection, takes place.

“He makes his way to the stage at the Catacombs, joining Bob Kielbania, who plays upright bass, and flutist John Payne, who is trying for a spot in the tour group.  He gets his guitar tuned, carefully adjusts the mike placement, brows knit, anxious that everything be right.  He begins with ‘Cyprus Avenue’.  He’s so involved with it, so into it, that you have the feeling you’re involved in a very intimate communication with him.  He winces and strains to bring the song up from far within him, producing at times a strangely distant sound that carries a lyric of loss and disillusionment.  He sings with great care, making certain that none of the lyrics, none of the tone and intonation are lost to the audience.  He is a performer beautiful to watch in his absorption.  He has total control over the number and, by now, over most of the audience as well.”

—  Eric Kraft¹

Representatives at Warner Brothers Records caught wind of Morrison’s whereabouts, and wanted to sign him directly to the music label.  But Van was in a real bind.  The existing contractual obligations to Bang Records, not to mention his immigration status, were significant obstacles, as Warner Brothers believed that Ilene Berns would sue any competing label.    First, Morrison married Janet Minto, his longtime American girlfriend, which rectified his immigration status.  Warner then carefully negotiated a settlement with Ilene Berns and Bang Records.  Finally, record executive Joe Smith personally handled the non-public business of extricating Morrison from his contract with the label’s Italian representatives for $20,000 in unmarked cash.¹

Finally, with some stability in his professional life, Morrison moved to upstate New York and began his recording career in earnest.  His first album for Warner Brothers, Astral Weeks, is considered by critics one of the great achievements in rock music, though it’s a stretch to consider it “rock”.  It is an innovative passage of music, long poems, steeped in the memories of his Irish heritage, and accompanied by a sensitive jazz combo led by bassist Richard Davis.  Astral Weeks did not sell well, so there was some pressure to follow up with a marketable product.  Moondance did not disappoint, featuring shorter songs with a pop sensibility, and is also considered a definitive collection of Morrison’s music.  These two records epitomize the breadth of expression that would follow in his long, prolific career; his songs cover a wide range of subjects, sung almost exclusively from a first person perspective.  He often reminisces about days gone by and the simple happiness he found in youth.  Morrison is well read, and uses his knowledge of religion, philosophy and literature to reflect a personal quest to understand life through his music.  He uses big bands, generally six to ten players, with horn sections and the occasional orchestral backing.  Over the years he moved to northern California, and then back to Northern Ireland where he lives today. “Van The Man” has produced thirty four albums of original material, not including several dozen songs released in subsequent collections.  He has been awarded the Order Of The British Empire, and is a member of both the Rock and Roll Hall Of Fame and the Songwriters Hall Of Fame.

A short list of musical contributors to Van Morrison’s music:

Jay Berliner (b. 1940), guitar
Richard Davis (b. 1930), double bass
Connie Kay (1927-1994), drums
Jef Labes, keyboards
John Platania, guitar
Jack Schroer (1944-1995), saxophone
David Hayes, bass
Albert “Pee Wee” Ellis (b. 1941), saxophone, arranger
Candy Dulfer (b. 1969), alto saxophone
Georgie Fame (b. 1943), keyboards, vocals

A Love That’s Divine

My serious interest in Van Morrison and his music began in 1989, a landmark year in my life.  I had given up drinking and drugs in 1987, and for the first time in adulthood was in the midst of a long period of uninterrupted sobriety.  I attended self-help meetings that emphasized a belief in a higher power, something I never quite embraced.  I was feeling healthy, doing well at work, and was single and unattached for the first and only time since college.  During the summer of 1989 I met and started dating my wife.  I think it was my work friend Greg Vaughan who piqued my interest in Van Morrison, and suggested the album Avalon Sunset.  I bought the album and listened to it regularly that summer and fall.  I remember discussing “Have I Told You Lately” with Greg, and him suggesting the song was not about romantic love, but rather agape, a divine, universal love.  I’ve always remembered that, and use that as an example of ambiguous lyricism, a favorite trait of good songwriting.

There’s a love that’s divine,
And it’s yours and it’s mine like the sun.
And at the end of the day,
We should give thanks and pray,
To the one, to the one.

(Note: All lyric quotes by Van Morrison unless otherwise noted.)

I started collecting Van Morrison albums in earnest.  Avalon Sunset was rapidly followed by Enlightenment and Hymns To The Silence, all of which contained spiritual songs of varying religiosity.  My general appreciation for spiritual music increased.  I prefer it when the message is conveyed in traditional popular styles such as bluegrass and country music, rather than by a church choir.

Morrison is the only musician who became an all-time favorite midway into his career.  In the case of The Beatles, Creedence Clearwater Revival and Los Lobos, and for a shorter period, David Grisman, I became enamored with their music at first or second listen.  Van The Man’s music was there in the background during the late sixties and early seventies, songs like “Brown Eyed Girl”, “Into The Mystic” and “Jackie Wilson Said” on the San Francisco AM and FM radio stations.  I bought the Wavelength album in 1979, and even went to my first Van Morrison concert at Freeborn Hall in Davis, California, but I can’t remember much about it.  My music collection portrays this gap between Morrison’s popular period and my spiritual “awakening” to his music, with few favorite songs from the mid-seventies through the mid-eighties.  In retrospect, it’s a shame I didn’t know that Morrison lived in Marin County and performed regularly around San Francisco when I was growing up.

Van Morrison And The Fame Game

While preparing to write this profile, I read Clinton Heylin’s excellent biography “Can You Feel The Silence?” for a second time.  It is a comprehensive, and at times unpleasant, look at Van’s career through the turn of the century.  Though Heylin is clearly a fan of the music, he spends an inordinate amount of time psychoanalyzing the introverted Morrison, whose least favorite thing in life is to be analyzed.  And yet, I am compelled to offer a few sympathetic thoughts.

A few years ago, a friend mentioned that I have personality characteristics that suggest Asperger’s Syndrome, or high functioning autism (HFA).  After reading about it and taking a few online tests, I’m convinced this is a good general description of how my mind works.  I score highly on IQ (intelligence) and AQ (autism) tests, and poorly on EQ (empathy) tests.  I’m focused on a few subjects of interest, with limited to no interest in other things.  Historically, I’ve often used drugs and drink to feel happy and ease my mind, and in middle age I struggle with mild paranoia and depression.   I have a harsh sense of right or wrong, with scant gray area between the two.  On the other hand, I can see some things in clearer, less complicated ways than others, and have a powerful memory for facts and numbers.  Knowing I’m a little different, I worry what other people think of me, and I overcompensate, often making the mistake of being too talkative with others.   It’s unlikely a professional would diagnose me with Asperger’s Syndrome, but there are hidden struggles, especially in social situations.

Van Morrison was obsessed with music from an early age.  He has an encyclopedic knowledge of popular music, and is a voracious reader, perhaps in his quest to both understand life and write a great song.  He is a synesthete; he refers to the sounds of his music in terms of “shapes”, much like Bob Dylan assigns colors to music.  In concert, he is a fully engaged perfectionist who listens carefully to his musicians, and expects them to sensitively react to his voice and actions.  And he despises the fame game, from strangers who approach him in public to share stories and wishes, to the tabloid writers who capitalize on the details of his personal life.  And he’s been very forthright and honest about it.

Amazon.com Link to “Can You Feel The Silence?”, by Clinton Heylin

In my life I’ve had two friends who were quite famous.  Earl Anthony was perhaps the greatest professional bowler of all time, and during the seventies he was a highly personable and well spoken celebrity, with millions of adoring fans.  I played golf with Earl once or twice a week for a few years, and got to know him very well.  I had made the decision that I would treat celebrities as ordinary people, and avoid asking questions about their profession.  And this worked great with Earl; he was interested in all sorts of things, from nature to high finance.  After knowing him a while, Earl would share some of his bowling experiences, which of course was immensely fun and enjoyable.

I don’t remember exactly where this story comes from, but the best story about Earl comes from an interaction with a longtime member of our local golf club.  Apparently this member had never heard of Earl, and asked Earl whether he liked to bowl, and Earl answering nonchalantly to a series of questions:

“Do you like to bowl?”
“Yes, I like to bowl.”
“Oh yeah? What’s your highest score?”
“Really? No way. So how many times have you rolled a 300?”
“Oh, about 650 times in sanctioned competition.”
“What? No way! Have you ever won a tournament?”
“Yeah, about 150 tournaments worldwide.”
“No way!”

Another friend of mine who is well-known is Tom Doak, who designs golf courses for a living. By comparison he is a minor celebrity, but he is very influential within the golfing community. I became friends with him through an Internet discussion group that discusses golf architecture. He is a recognized authority on the subject, with a photographic memory of thousands of golf holes he studied in his long career. He dropped out of the math program at MIT and transferred to Cornell University for landscape architecture, because he knew he wanted to be a golf architect. His online personality is very funny and outgoing, but in person, he is shy and reserved until he feels comfortable. In normal conversation, Tom tends to steer the conversation to golf courses.  Tom and his band of talented course “shapers” build beautiful and natural looking golf courses, modern works of art.  His approach to golf course construction is similar to Van Morrison’s approach to music.  He allows his artists to improvise within the context of the overall plan.  If he doesn’t like something, he gives general instructions to change the shapes to make it look and play better.

Ballyneal_3Best_printGolfing at Ballyneal — Getting The Shapes Right (Photo by L.C. Lambrecht)

 When my wife was a young woman, she dated a well-known professional football player for a short period of time.  Recently she told me how disruptive his fame was in social situations.  The two of them could not enjoy a restaurant meal without several interruptions from well-meaning fans.  “Oh, sorry to interrupt and I hope you don’t mind, but I’m so-and-so from somewhere, and I wanted to tell you this and that about myself.  Oh, and by the way, could you sign this for me?”

Once Van Morrison is comfortably surrounded by trusted friends, he’s probably a lot like everybody else, happily participating. On some evenings he probably likes talking about music, and the greats of the past. How tough it must be to be famous, spending your whole life dealing with people who want your time, attention and business. A couple years back, my wife volunteered for a local golf tournament raising money for Parkinson’s disease. The great basketball player Bill Russell was there, adding his presence to the list of celebrities. After the golf round, he sat mostly alone, with his back to the after-party. He’s a kind man and a great man, but he doesn’t want to endure small talk and he doesn’t want to explain why. Another friend who once played golf with Mr. Russell said that as soon it was clear everybody was there to play golf, he opened up and was very charming.

Why Must He Always Explain?

Biographer Clinton Heylin takes Morrison to task for excessive complaint in his 1991 double album Hymns To The Silence.

“Hymns To The Silence, his first double album of original songs, devotes almost the entire first volume to whingeing about “Professional Jealousy”; how the singer is ‘not feeling it any more’; the fact that he just wants an ‘Ordinary Life’; and why he can’t find ‘Some Peace Of Mind’…This indulgent exercise culminated in ‘Why Must I Always Explain?’, a song that in four minutes seemed to offer a prima facie case for clinical paranoia…As Steve Turner has written, ‘The irony of “Why Must I Always Explain?” was that the thrust of his songwriting had always been explanation, giving his public detailed information about his problems, hardships, and spiritual adventures.”¹

I like Hymns To The Silence; I listened to Disc 1 dozens of times during those happy days of sobriety and courtship.  Perhaps the difference between me and a professional critic like Mr. Heylin is that he gets completely outside his self and interprets the songs from the author’s perspective.  I listen to the songs and think about how they relate to me.  When Van sings about “Professional Jealousy” it reminds me when other engineers who were promoted ahead of me.  The rollicking “Ordinary Life” always made me think about how much I like a simple, regimented life.  I’m not sure who the ‘Village Idiot’ is, but I can relate to that character.  It’s impossible to deny the personal attack of “Why Must I Always Explain?”, but still I’m looking for how the music relates to me and my life.

“Well I get up in the morning and I get my brief,
I go out and stare at the world in complete disbelief.
It’s not righteous indignation that makes me complain,
It’s the fact that I always have to explain.

The world is so crazy these days; sometimes you just shake your head and wonder what the people with power are thinking.  I can relate.

Van Morrison writes a lot of songs.  There’s something for almost everyone: songs about love and spirituality.  Songs about growing up in Belfast, and songs about getting away from it all and being alone.  For those who like happy-go-lucky novelty songs, there’s not much of that.  Van’s a pretty serious guy.  He’s like Woody Allen — every year or so he goes into the studio with a group of musicians and knocks out another collection of songs.  He records quickly, looking for first impressions and early inspiration from his musicians.  Songs are often completed in one or two takes.  Then he takes his favorites out on tour and refines them.

Seeing Van Morrison Perform In Concert

During our courtship, Cheryl and I saw Van in Berkeley a couple times, then I stopped attending his concerts for a while.  In May, 1994, Morrison released Live In San Francisco, which featured several guest stars and a more soulful sound.  It’s a wonderful record, and I bought Days Like This, the next studio album. But my true Van Morrison epiphany came in September, 1998, the last time he visited Portland, Oregon.  It was a big tour with Bob Dylan, not to mention a thirty minute opening set by Lucinda Williams, who was at the peak of her popularity.  They played at the Rose Garden, the largest venue in town, and not particularly well suited for concerts.  Dylan and Morrison took turns headlining on this tour.  On this evening, Morrison came out second and performed a stunning set of upbeat music, focusing much of his attention on well known songs, perhaps the single greatest performance I’ve ever seen.  Wow songs, one after another.  Poor Bob Dylan had to follow Van that night, and his voice and his live performing abilities are no match for Van The Man’s power.  After a few laconic songs we headed home.

Since then, I’ve made it a point to see Morrison perform every time he travels to the west coast, which usually means a weekend in San Francisco every year or two.  It seems we visit San Francisco as tourists more than I ever did as a longtime Bay Area resident.  I’ve met a few of Morrison’ most devoted fans, who travel from the east coast and even Europe to see him perform, and I’ve be invited to join a private discussion group, which I enjoy very much.  It’s fascinating to read the comments of his longtime fans, and what they liked about each show.  Among the devoted fans of his music, my tastes are pretty conventional.  I have my favorites, which can be figured out by my song ratings.  Many of his longtime fans love to hear the lesser known and rarely played numbers that Van sings and plays on occasion.  Like all of my favorite performers, Morrison’s concert playlists vary from year to year, though several songs remain in the rotation for decades.

In the fall of 2000, I was driving through Austin, Texas with a friend, and stopped at a outdoor record stand to see what they had.  Just looking through the bins I came across a 2-CD collection called Emerald Dreams, a live performance from Dusseldorf, Germany in December, 1998.  I bought it and stuck it in the car CD player, and it quickly became one of my all-time favorites.  It was a similar show to the one I had seen in Portland, essentially the same band with a couple of special guest stars added.  The concert footage from that show is now floating around on YouTube, and two songs from the show are included here.  Over the years I’ve collected a number of concert recordings, and my iPod collection has dozens of these recordings filling out my collection.  These are prized belongings, and among my favorite and most played songs I own.  Since many of these are not readily available, I recommend substituting them with studio recordings or commercially available live albums.

In the grand scheme of 20th century popular music, where does Van Morrison fit?  Rather than the typical comparison to other rock musicians, Morrison should be compared to the great small bandleaders.  As a matter of coincidence, the careers of three men named Louis are quite similar to Morrison: Louis Jordan, Louis Prima and Louis Armstrong.  The three Louis all sing, swing, and play a horn, and they surrounded themselves with musicians with the ability to improvise.  Morrison brings a greater lyrical sophistication, though his songs tend to be a bit less complex musically than pop standards of the twenties and thirties.  The confessional nature of the songs, blurring the lines between romantic and spiritual love, and the repeating mantras of his message wash over the listener in each ninety minute performance, where not a second of time is wasted, and the music flows seamlessly from song to song.  He is my favorite live performer ever, and there’s a sense of urgency to see him again before he retires.

In The Garden

This fall Van Morrison will release “Lit Up Inside”, a book discussing selected lyrics from his lifetime of work.  I’ll be curious to see which lyrics are discussed.  Among the dark horse choices I’m pulling for is “All Work And Play” from the 2002 album Down The Road.  I doubt music scholars, or Van himself, give the bouncy “All Work And No Play” much thought, but sometimes a few simple thoughts does it for me.  It shouldn’t always be deep and profound; that’s not how life goes.  These words evoke a strong image for me.

I’d like to be somewhere else,
Like to be all by myself.
Like to be down at the beach,
Relaxing at the sugar shack.
Hot dogs, coffee black,
Coca Cola, kicking back.

I get most of my spiritual input from music.  Morrison’s shout outs to musicians mean more to me than his references to great authors and poets.  “Real Real Gone” finishes with the following words of wisdom.

Wilson Pickett said, “In the midnight hour,
That’s when my love comes tumbling down.”
Solomon Burke said, “If you need me,
Why don’t you call me.”
James Brown said, “When you’re tired of what you got,
Try me.”
Gene Chandler said, “There’s a rainbow in my soul.”

I enjoy the adaptation of the W.B. Yeats poem “Before The World Was Made”. Both Yeats and poet William Blake were revered for their simplicity. There’s no need to view the world in an overly complicated fashion. We’re human beings, the dominant species on the planet. We’re not separate or special in any regard. We want food and shelter and comfort, and most of us want sex and love, too. My sense of wonder resides in the beauty and diversity of all this life, evolving on Earth for over 500 million years. It is improbable, amazing, and impossibly complicated, the mountains and the oceans, and the fields of grass that turn from green to gold each summer, in the valley where I live.

“If I make the lashes dark,
And the eyes more bright.
And the lips more scarlet,
Or ask if all be right.
From mirror after mirror,
No vanity’s displayed,
I’m looking for the face I had,
Before the world was made.”

— William Butler Yeats

I could have saved Van Morrison years of theosophical longing if he had just asked me, but we would have missed out on a lifetime of lovely thoughts. Despite my atheistic beliefs, I enjoy songs about God and the mysteries of the divine. A hundred years from now, the song most likely to endure as an example of his poetic genius will be “In The Garden”.

“And you went into a trance,
Your childlike vision became so fine.
And we heard the bells inside the church,
We loved so much,
And felt the presence of the youth of
Eternal summers in the garden.

And as it touched your cheeks so lightly,
Born again you were and blushed,
And we touched each other lightly,
And we felt the presence of the Christ,
Within our hearts,
In the garden.

And I turned to you and I said,
No guru, no method, no teacher,
Just you and I and nature,
And the father in the garden.

No guru, no method, no teacher,
Just you and I and nature,
And the Father and the Son,
and the Holy Ghost,
In the garden, wet with rain.”

Van Morrison Song Notes:

1.  “Precious Time” is regularly featured in concert performances since its debut on Back On Top.  I have never heard a satisfactory live performance of this song.  It is the rare Morrison song where the studio version is clearly superior, thanks to Pee Wee Ellis’s fine closing solo.

2.  My college sweetheart was named Andrea.  She was about five foot four, from the head to the ground.  And her name is A…

3.  Van Morrison is sometimes criticized for a lack of facility as a guitar and saxophone player.  Although he is not a virtuoso player of either instrument, I enjoy his guitar and sax solos a great deal, and consider that an integral part of his musicianship.

Van Morrison Songs:

The Story Of Them Featuring Van Morrison

Gloria, Them ★★★★★
Philosophy, Them
One Two Brown Eyes, Them
Baby Please Don’t Go, Them ★★★★
Here Comes The Night, Them ★★
Mystic Eyes, Them ★★★
I Like It Like That, Them
I’m Gonna Dress In Black (Alt), Them
Little Girl (Alt), Them
Turn On Your Love Light, Them
I Put A Spell On You, Them
It’s All Over Now, Baby Blue, Them ★★★
Hey Girl, Them
Friday’s Child, Them
Richard Cory (Alt), Them ★★

Blowin’ Your Mind

Brown Eyed Girl, Van Morrison ★★★
T.B. Sheets, Van Morrison

Astral Weeks

Astral Weeks, Van Morrison ★★
Cyprus Avenue, Van Morrison ★★
The Way Young Lovers Do, Van Morrison
Madame George, Van Morrison ★★★
Ballerina, Van Morrison ★★
Sweet Thing, Van Morrison ★★★
Slim Slow Slider, Van Morrison ★★

Moondance (2013 Deluxe Edition)

And It Stoned Me, Van Morrison ★★
Moondance, Van Morrison ★★★★
Crazy Love, Van Morrison ★★★
Caravan, Van Morrison ★★★★
Into The Mystic, Van Morrison ★★★★
Come Running, Van Morrison ★★
These Dreams Of You, Van Morrison ★★★
Everyone, Van Morrison
Glad Tidings, Van Morrison

Into The Mystic (Take 11), Van Morrison ★★★
Moondance (Take 22), Van Morrison
Glad Tidings (Alt), Van Morrison
These Dreams Of You (Alt), Van Morrison ★★
Caravan (Mono), Van Morrison ★★
I Shall Sing (Mono), Van Morrison

His Band And The Street Choir

Domino, Van Morrison ★★★

Tupelo Honey (Remastered)

Tupelo Honey, Van Morrison ★★★★
I Wanna Roo You (Scottish Derivative), Van Morrison
Wild Night, Van Morrison ★★★
Wild Night (Alt), Van Morrison ★★

Friday’s Child: Live At the Pacific High Studios

Into The Mystic (Live), Van Morrison ★★
I’ve Been Working (Live), Van Morrison ★★
Ballerina (Live), Van Morrison
Tupelo Honey (Live), Van Morrison ★★
Wild Night (Live), Van Morrison ★★
Just Like A Woman (Live), Van Morrison ★★★★
These Dreams Of You (Live), Van Morrison ★★
Domino (Live), Van Morrison

Saint Dominic’s Preview

Jackie Wilson Said (I’m In Heaven When You Smile), Van Morrison ★★★★
I Will Be There, Van Morrison
Listen To The Lion, Van Morrison
Saint Dominic’s Preview, Van Morrison

Hard Nose The Highway

Warm Love, Van Morrison ★★

It’s Too Late To Stop Now

Ain’t Nothing You Can Do (Live), Van Morrison ★★
Cyprus Avenue (Live), Van Morrison

Veedon Fleece

Fair Play, Van Morrison ★★
Who Was That Masked Man, Van Morrison
You Don’t Pull No Punches, But You Don’t Push The River, Van Morrison
Bulbs, Van Morrison


Kingdom Hall, Van Morrison
Natalia, Van Morrison ★★
Wavelength, Van Morrison

Into The Music

Bright Side Of The Road, Van Morrison ★★★★
And The Healing Has Begun, Van Morrison
It’s All In The Game, Van Morrison ★★

Beautiful Vision

Beautiful Vision, Van Morrison
Cleaning Windows, Van Morrison ★★★

Inarticulate Speech Of The Heart

Celtic Swing, Van Morrison
Rave On, John Donne, Van Morrison

A Sense Of Wonder

Tore Down A La Rimbaud, Van Morrison

No Guru, No Method, No Teacher

Foreign Window, Van Morrison ★★
A Town Called Paradise, Van Morrison
In The Garden, Van Morrison ★★★★★
One Irish Rover, Van Morrison ★★

Rave On (Glastonbury, England, June 1987)

Foreign Window (Live), Van Morrison
It’s All In The Game (Live), Van Morrison

Poetic Champions Compose

I Forgot That Love Existed, Van Morrison ★★
Queen Of The Slipstream, Van Morrison
Someone Like You, Van Morrison ★★★
Alan Watts Blues, Van Morrison ★★★
Allow Me, Van Morrison
Did Ye Get Healed?, Van Morrison ★★

Irish Heartbeat

Irish Heartbeat, Van Morrison & The Chieftains
Marie’s Wedding, Van Morrison & the Chieftains

Avalon Sunset

Whenever God Shines His Light, Van Morrison ★★
Coney Island, Van Morrison ★★
Have I Told You Lately, Van Morrison ★★★
When Will I Ever Learn To Live In God, Van Morrison
Orangefield, Van Morrison


Real Real Gone, Van Morrison ★★★
Enlightenment, Van Morrison ★★
So Quiet In Here, Van Morrison
See Me Through, Van Morrison
Youth Of 1,000 Summers, Van Morrison
In The Days Before Rock ‘n’ Roll, Van Morrison

Bang Masters

Brown Eyed Girl (Alt), Van Morrison ★★

Hymns To The Silence

Professional Jealousy, Van Morrison ★★
I’m Not Feeling It Anymore, Van Morrison ★★
Ordinary Life, Van Morrison ★★
So Complicated, Van Morrison
Why Must I Always Explain?, Van Morrison ★★★
Village Idiot, Van Morrison ★★
See Me Through Part II (Just A Closer Walk With Thee), Van Morrison ★★
By His Grace, Van Morrison
All Saints Day, Van Morrison ★★
On Hyndford Street, Van Morrison
Be Thou My Vision, Van Morrison ★★
Green Mansions, Van Morrison
Pagan Streams, Van Morrison
Carrying A Torch, Van Morrison

Too Long In Exile

Big Time Operators, Van Morrison
Lonely Avenue, Van Morrison ★★
Gloria, Van Morrison
Moody’s Mood For Love, Van Morrison ★★
Before The World Was Made, Van Morrison ★★★

A Night In San Francisco

Did Ye Get Healed? (Live), Van Morrison
I’ve Been Working (Live), Van Morrison
Beautiful Vision (Live), Van Morrison
I’ll Take Care Of You/It’s A Man’s Man’s Man’s Man’s World (Live), Van Morrison ★★★

Days Like This

Raincheck, Van Morrison ★★★
Days Like This, Van Morrison ★★★
Ancient Highway, Van Morrison
In The Afternoon, Van Morrison ★★

How Long Has This Been Going On

Who Can I Turn To?, Van Morrison with Georgie Fame
Sack O’ Woe, Van Morrison with Georgie Fame ★★

The Healing Game

Rough God Goes Riding, Van Morrison ★★
Fire In The Belly, Van Morrison ★★
Sometimes We Cry, Van Morrison

The Philosopher’s Stone

Naked In The Jungle, Van Morrison ★★
Drumshanbo Hustle, Van Morrison
Flamingoes Fly, Van Morrison
Street Theory, Van Morrison

I Like Candy – 1998 Christmas Special

Chicken (Live), Van Morrison
Jackie Wilson Said (I’m In Heaven When You Smile), Van Morrison ★★★★★
These Dreams Of You (Live), Van Morrison ★★★
Raincheck (Live), Van Morrison ★★
Moondance/My Funny Valentine (Live), Van Morrison ★★
Rough God Goes Riding (Live), Van Morrison ★★
Give Me A Kiss (Live), Van Morrison
That’s Life (Live), Van Morrison
In The Afternoon (Live), Van Morrison ★★★★
Satisfied (Live), Van Morrison
Summertime In England (Live), Van Morrison ★★
See Me Through/Soldier Of Fortune/Thank You Falettinme Be Mice Elf Again/Burning Ground (Live), Van Morrison

Back On Top

Philosopher’s Stone, Van Morrison ★★
In The Midnight, Van Morrison ★★★
Back On Top, Van Morrison ★★★
When The Leaves Come Falling Down, Van Morrison ★★★
Precious Time, Van Morrison ★★★

Norwegian Wood Festival (Oslo, Norway, Jun 2000)

Days Like This (Live), Van Morrison ★★★
Vanlose Stairway/Trans-Euro Train (Live), Van Morrison ★★
It’s All In The Game (Live), Van Morrison ★★

Think Twice Before You Go (Basel, Switzerland, December 2000)

Think Twice Before You Go (Live), Van Morrison
Fire In The Belly (Live), Van Morrison
Domino (Live), Van Morrison ★★
Moondance (Live), Van Morrison ★★★
Brown Eyed Girl (Live), Van Morrison ★★★
Bright Side Of The Road (Live), Van Morrison ★★★★
Help Me (Live), Van Morrison ★★

Down The Road

Meet Me In The Indian Summer, Van Morrison ★★
Steal My Heart Away, Van Morrison
Choppin’ Wood, Van Morrison
All Work And No Play, Van Morrison ★★★
What Happened To PJ Proby?, Van Morrison
The Beauty Of The Days Gone By, Van Morrison

Meet Me In… (Tempodrom, Berlin, June 2002)

Whining Boy Moan (Live), Van Morrison ★★★
Days Like This (Live), Van Morrison
Did Ye Get Healed? (Live), Van Morrison ★★
Naked In The Jungle (Live), Van Morrison ★★★
In The Midnight (Live), Van Morrison ★★★★★
Hey Mr. DJ (Live), Van Morrison
Meet Me In The Indian Summer (Live), Van Morrison
Sometimes We Cry (Live), Van Morrison
Early In The Morning (Live), Van Morrison

Perugia, July 2003

When You’re Smiling (Live), Van Morrison ★★

What’s Wrong With This Picture?

Evening In June, Van Morrison
Meaning Of Loneliness, Van Morrison ★★
Stop Drinking, Van Morrison
Once In A Blue Moon, Van Morrison
St. James Infirmary, Van Morrison ★★

Nights In November (Germany, November 2003)

I Will Be There (Live), Van Morrison
Once In A Blue Moon (Live), Van Morrison ★★
In The Midnight (Live), Van Morrison ★★★
I Like It Like That/Kansas City (Live), Van Morrison
Back On Top (Live), Van Morrison ★★★
Philosopher’s Stone (Live), Van Morrison ★★
And The Healing Has Begun (Live), Van Morrison ★★★
Gloria (Live), Van Morrison ★★★
Whining Boy Moan (Live), Van Morrison ★★
Little Village (Live), Van Morrison ★★★
Have I Told You Lately (Las Vegas) (Live), Van Morrison ★★★★
Goldfish Bowl (Live), Van Morrison
It’s All In The Game/You Know What They’re Writing About (Live), Van Morrison ★★★★

Live In Toronto (September 2004)

All Work And No Play (Live), Van Morrison ★★★

Magic Time

Stranded, Van Morrison ★★
Celtic New Year, Van Morrison ★★
Keep Mediocrity At Bay, Van Morrison
The Lion This Time, Van Morrison
Magic Time, Van Morrison
They Sold Me Out, Van Morrison

Live At Austin City Limits

Bright Side Of The Road (Live), Van Morrison ★★★
I Can’t Stop Loving You (Live), Van Morrison ★★

Keep It Simple

Keep It Simple, Van Morrison
Behind The Ritual, Van Morrison
End Of The Land, Van Morrison

Astral Weeks: Live A The Hollywood Bowl

Sweet Thing (Live), Van Morrison ★★

Born To Sing: No Plan B

Born To Sing, Van Morrison
If In Money We Trust, Van Morrison
Pagan Heart, Van Morrison

Miscellaneous YouTube Video Recordings

Celtic New Year (Live), Van Morrison ★★★
I’m Not Feeling It Anymore (LIve), Van Morrison ★★★★
Just Like A Woman (Live), Van Morrison ★★
Precious Time (Live), Van Morrison ★★

Related Songs:

Gloria, The Doors
Gloria, U2

Baby Please Don’t Go, The Amboy Dukes
Baby Please Don’t Go (Live), Lightnin’ Hopkins ★★★
Don’t Go Baby, John Lee Hooker ★★

Turn On Your Love Light, Bobby “Blue” Bland ★★★★
Turn On Your Love Light (Live), Grateful Dead

I Put A Spell On You, Screamin’ Jay Hawkins ★★★★
I Put A Spell On You, Nina Simone ★★
I Put A Spell On You, Creedence Clearwater Revival ★★★★

Richard Cory, Simon & Garfunkel

Ain’t Nothing You Can Do, Bobby “Blue” Bland ★★★★

It’s All In The Game, Tommy Edwards ★★

Lonely Avenue, Ray Charles ★★★★

Moody’s Mood For Love, King Pleasure ★★★

I’ll Take Care Of You, Bobby “Blue” Bland ★★★★

It’s A Man’s Man’s Man’s World, James Brown ★★★
It;s A Man’s Man’s Man’s World – Lost Someone (Live), James Brown ★★
It’s A Man’s World, James Brown ★★★★

Sack O’ Woe, The Mar-Keys ★★
Sack O’ Woe, Manfred Mann

My Funny Valentine, Chet Baker ★★★★
My Funny Valentine, Artie Shaw & His Gramercy 5 ★★
My Funny Valentine, Elvis Costello ★★
My Funny Valentine, The Gerry Mulligan Quartet & Chet Baker
My Funny Valentine, Miles Davis ★★

That’s Life, Frank Sinatra ★★★
That’s Life (Live), James Brown ★★★★

Help Me, Sonny Boy Williamson ★★★★
Help Me, Charlie Musselwhite ★★

Early In The Morning, Sonny Boy Williamson
Early In The Morning (Live), Eric Clapton

When You’re Smiling/The Shiek Of Araby, Louis Prima ★★★
When You’re Smiling, Billie Holiday ★★★★

I Can’t Stop Loving You, Don Gibson ★★★
I Can’t Stop Loving You, Ray Charles ★★★

Just Like A Woman, Bob Dylan ★★★★★
Just Like A Woman (Live), Bob Dylan ★★★


¹  Excerpts from “Can You Feel The Silence?”, by Clinton Heylin

One thought on “2. Van Morrison

  1. Jim Swan August 3, 2014 / 4:00 AM

    simply incredible Johnny!

    Congrats on some great work.’

    All is well here – hosting my Mom’s 80th Birthday party tomorrow.

    Talk soon, Jim

    Jim Swan & Associates Swan Paradiso Productions 2235 River Plaza Dr. #156 Sacramento, Ca. 95833 916.320.8771 cell http://www.SwanParadisoProductions.com

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