Saturday, 9 November 2019

21 Facts About Three Chords and the Truth (2019)

Harlan Howard in the 1950s said "three chords and the truth is what makes a good country song" and the phrase has resonated with many artists over the years.

Three Chords and the Truth is a fairly popular name for albums. It has been used by Sara Evans (1997), The Ducky Boys (2004), James King (2013) and Anthony David (2004).

Three Chords & The Truth could be considered a companion piece to Keep Me Singing (2016). Both albums are strong explorations of a variety of themes. The songs on both albums are all written by Van Morrison with one song on each co-written with Don Black. Even the cover artwork on both albums has been designed by young graphic designer Justin Helton from Tennessee.

Van sings a duet with Righteous Brothers’ gravel voiced Bill Medley called Fame Will Eat the Soul. They sound great together, but it is patently clear whose voice has weathered better over time.

Up on Broadway refers to the street in San Francisco that leads to City Lights bookstore famous for its beat generation publishing. References to the City Lights bookstore can also be found on Keep Me Singing (2016).

Is Van going to retire from touring? In Bags Under My Eyes he sings, “Well the road just lets me down/Got to get off this merry-go-round … but I’m still out here on the go..when am I gonna get wise?”

All I got is a red guitar, three chords and the truth is a U2 lyric on Rattle and Hum.

The Bouzouki is one of the more unusual instruments played on the album.  David Keary is credited with playing this Greek stringed instrument.

Guitarist Jay Berliner appears on 6 tracks.  He also played on Astral Weeks in 1968.

Dark night of the soul is an expression that Van has used before in his lyrics. Lots of other phrases he has used previously are recycled throughout this album such as ‘start breaking down’, ‘get off the merry go round’, ‘plans of mice and men’, ‘brand new day’ etc.

Van said in the interview with Leo Green that Bags Under My Eyes is a "take off on Willie Nelson".

You Don’t Understand has a groove that pays homage to Ballad of a Thin Man by Bob Dylan. Many say the songs are very similar.

Nobody in Charge is supposedly Van’s contribution to the Brexit debate. From a long way away it does seem weird that a nation named Great Britain wants to be controlled by extreme bureaucrats in Brussels.

March Winds in February has the Humphrey Bogart line "here's looking at you kid". 

At the end of Bags Under My Eyes Van gives a brief yodel sounding something like "yodelo-ee".
In the song In Search of Grace Van's lyrics seem to indicate that a real person named Grace disappeared from his street in 1967 or 1968.  I've done a thorough search (thanks Van!) and can find no reference to a 50 year old missing person case involving someone named Grace. But his lyrics "got to get back to that sacred space, that's why I'm always searching for Grace" seem to point to a spiritual quest.  

There aren’t a lot of songwriters who can fit the word skulduggery into a song's lyrics as Morrison does here with You Don’t Understand.

The phrase or concept Dark Night of the Soul first appeared in a poem written by the 16th-century Spanish mystic and poet St. John of the Cross. In The Crack-Up, F. Scott Fitzgerald penned his famous line, "In a real dark night of the soul it is always three o'clock in the morning". Van used the phrase in two of his songs, Tore Down a la Rimbaud and Give Me My Rapture before creating the song Dark Night of the Soul for this album. 

Three Chords and the Truth was recorded and mixed at 6 studios. They were Covent (Stroud), Musicbox (Cardiff), Holywood Studio (County Down), Hideout Recording Studio (Las Vegas), Esplanade (New Orleans) and Air Studios (London).

If We Wait for Mountains is an incredibly upbeat and hopeful song for someone with a reputation for being a curmudgeon and misanthrope. 

In the closing song Days Gone By Van uses lyrics from Auld Lang Syne. The song subtly transitions to the standard's music for these lyrics as well. 

Friday, 8 November 2019

Funny Things People Say - Part 33

Terrence Camodeca   -   I am a big fan of Van Morrison. I started listening to him when I was still in my mother's womb 54 years ago. I am looking forward to seeing him in concert for the first time. Fact is, it is the first concert I will be going to in all my life. I hope to present him with a small gift at the concert.

Terrence Camodeca   -   I wish Van Morrison was a happier man. His unhappiness shows on the stage. I saw him live. It was a dream come true. But when he got tired he just walked off the stage. Did not say goodbye. Did not thank anyone for coming out. He just walked off the stage. That was very heart breaking. I know you don't like getting old Van...but no one does. All the millions of dollars you have and yet you are so pissed off at life.

Laurie Thompson    -   One year ago my husband and I pinkie shook & decided to travel from the USA to wherever Van was playing for our 30th wedding anniversary. Imagine our delight when we learnt it would be in Ireland.

Tom Dougherty   -   He’s just a little guy from Belfast, no great looks or sexy swagger. Just brilliance, hinged on the facets of life. And this, time and time again. It’s a brand that hasn’t let up since 1968.

Dr Karl Max   -   I'd love to make a hairpiece for Van. I've done ones for various pets and babies and now I'd love to do one for The Man. Does anyone know his cranial measurements?

Lawrence Glosser   -   How special that my visit to Belfast in March includes the thrill of seeing Van with my daughter. (?)

Scott O'Reilly    -   There are days like this. Van Morrison is playing Brown Eyed Girl on the edge of Ireland. I'm dancing with my girlfriend and the smile in her eyes is as beautiful as the rainbow we spied earlier exploring Dunluce Castle. There's a magic in Van's music . . . you know what I'm talking about.

Sebastian Scotney   -   Experienced Van Morrison watchers with an eye for his crabbiness level were telling me that the relaxed Woodstock (Oxfordshire) vibe had got through to him too.

Phil James   -   I took my date Karlene to our Senior Ball in 1978 in Wethersfield, Connecticut. The maroon tux was rented. Our theme song was Van Morrison’s Moondance. Retro even then. To this day, when I see a car the same colour as this tux, my stomach turns.

Anonymous   -   When I was younger and my mom talked about Van Morrison, I honestly believed the whole time that she was referring to Jim Morrison.  LOL, I am not sure why I ever thought that, but for years I thought they were the same person.

Ariel Edwards-Levy   -   A handful of users also admitted to thinking that Pink Floyd was the name of one singer, and for confusing former The Smiths frontman Morrissey and Northern Irish singer Van Morrison. Interestingly, Brown Eyed Girl crooner Van Morrison was also mixed up with hard rock band Van Halen.

Derek   -   When Van Morrison released his third album, Moondance, in February 1970, little did he know he’d just released not only a classic album, but an album he’d never surpass. This wasn’t unexpected. After all, two years earlier in February 1968, Van Morrison has released Astral Weeks, an album which was a game-changer.

Brad Case   -   I will always remember seeing Van play the song Wavelength on Saturday Night Live as a young lad and being forever changed after that (in a good way, I think).

Captain Piddle   -   I think Van Morrison cannot be viewed without the proper context. Foucault would say we bring our own eyes to the man and therefore he can be anything. "What's true for you" has just about destroyed the 21st century brain.

Bothearsburning   -   Vantastic. Seen him live a dozen times... each time a different set, vibe. When he cuts loose his voice belts against your chest.

Howard Davis   -   Van assiduously constructed his distinctve voice not only by simulating Lead Belly until he started to sound harsh, percussive, and slippery, but also by swimming between notes instead of hitting them precisely, making each syllable sound as though it was drawn up from a great inner depth, like a stone rescued from the bottom of the ocean.

thin_places   -   Ireland has been on my mind recently. Helped along by Van Morrison.

DJ MJD   -   It’s hard for some people to believe that the soulful romantic who wrote and crooned Have I Told You Lately That I Love You was the same guy who had salaciously screamed out the letters G-L-O-R-I-A.

Saturday, 2 November 2019

The Tropes in Astral Weeks (1968)

A literary trope is the use of figurative language, through a word, phrase or image, for artistic effect. The word trope has also come to be used for describing commonly recurring literary and rhetorical devices, motifs or clich├ęs in creative works. Here's a list some identified in the great Astral Weeks: 

Alliterative Title: Slim Slow Slider

All Love Is Unrequited: Cyprus Avenue

Call-Back: Cyprus Avenue is mentioned again in Madame George.

Drag Queen: Madame George. Morrison has evidently denied this, but most people think he's full of it.   In the corner, playing dominoes in drag,
                                        The one and only Madame George."

Epic Rocking: Astral Weeks, Cyprus Avenue, Ballerina and especially Madame George.

Happy Rain: Both Sweet Thing and The Way Young Lovers Do use the lines "Fields all wet with rain". Something of a recurring theme for Van.

Neoclassical Punk Zydeco Rockabilly: Astral Weeks introduced Van's unique blend of R&B, Blues, Jazz, and Irish Folk Music. Critics sometimes call it Celtic Soul, though others contend that its genre is essentially unclassifiable. It resembles nothing that had preceded it and little that followed.

New Sound Album: Followed the Pop-Soul Blowin' Your Mind. It set the tone for the rest of Van's career.

Ode to Youth: Most of the album concerns Van's youthful memories of an idealised Belfast.

Rearrange the Song: One of the conditions of getting released from his Bang Records contract was that Morrison had to include two songs published under his old contract on his first Warner Brothers album, so he re-recorded Beside You and Madame George, which were first recorded at Bang, but didn't get released until years later. In both cases, the songs were mid tempo rock/soul pieces in their Bang incarnation, but he turned them into slower acoustic ballads on this album, vastly improving them in the process.

Scatting: Frequent, most obviously throughout Astral Weeks and the bridge of The Way Young Lovers Do.

Shout-Out: "Talkin' to Huddie Ledbetter/Showin' pictures on the wall..." The latter line is reference to the fact that Van claims to have always hung a poster of Lead Belly on his wall in the 1960s.

Spiritual Successor: Veedon Fleece (1974) is usually considered one to this album, with Morrison going back to mixing contemplative lyrics with an Irish-infused folk-jazz mix, after a few albums of more uptempo Soul-inspired work.

Sudden Downer Ending: At the end of Slim Slow Slider, and therefore the album.

Titled After the Song: Though, oddly, Astral Weeks is a Non-Appearing Title, meaning the album lacks an Album Title Drop.

12-Bar Blues: The structure of Cyprus Avenue uses this, but it's not very obvious.

Sunday, 27 October 2019

Funny Things People Say - Part 32

Lee Gallagher   -   Hi Van, if you read this. I used to live near you, across the road in Grand Parade in Belfast. When you were going to Orangefield Boys Secondary I was at Orangefield Primary. You and a gang of your buddies used to bully me on the way home from school because I spoke with an English accent as I was from London. It was normally done at the bottom of Orangefield Lane by the bridge over the river before you went into the park. Although I love your music and the tales of our neighbourhood perhaps you could write a song about what you did to me !!!!

Goldie Griffiths   -   I think Van Morrison doesn't know what material to do. He needs to experiment a little more and get out of the jazz/blues/Americana kick he seems to be on lately. Why not try some electronica or even prog? Van, get out the Can albums or even Pink Floyd and Yes if you must, and start re-learning and getting a whole new groove.

Howard Davis   -   In its singular focus, Roll with the Punches resembles the only other studio album in his catalogue where he unwaveringly pursued a single tangent, Pay the Devil, recording what was essentially a gnomic version of Ray Charles' groundbreaking Modern Sounds in Country and Western Music.

Boltongavin   -   We need you in Cape Town, it would be a total sellout. I fly the Van flag very high wherever I travel.

Dr Vicky Williamson   -   Most of the time, when all else is held constant, music in a major key is judged as happy while minor key music is heard as sad. I say most of the time because it’s not true across the board. Minor music can be happy even if people do not understand the lyrics, such as in Van Morrison’s Moondance.

Stephanie Gangi   -   The song The Philosopher’s Stone by Van Morrison kills me, and I’m not the world’s biggest Van Morrison fan. I think it’s fair to say that every single time I hear it I well up with tears (or if I’ve had a glass of wine or two, I burst). There is something so poignant and elemental (and Irish!) about Van’s voice full of resignation and longing, such a powerful combination. When he sings about searching for home, quietly but relentlessly, it speaks perfectly to my ghost protagonist Joanna’s quest. All our quests! After a certain age, after life has thrown everything at you, after you understand how to pick yourself up and keep going, how to honor the sorrows and the joys, you – and Van — know in your bones that it’s a hard road.

Brian Q. Newcomb   -   The minute we told people we had tickets to see Van Morrison, he of Moondance and Brown Eyed Girl fame, we started hearing their horror stories, of shows where he phoned it in, refused to play his hits, and the country show where he kept interrupting the show and insisting that the road crew move the drum riser six inches this way and then that.

Bruce McNaughton   -   Today is St. Patrick's Day. While I won't be partaking in any green beer (I prefer green tea, thanks!) I will be listening to my favourite Irish singer-songwriter, Van Morrison.

Random minded mom   -   So this guy is jamming out, 60's-80's music, the kids are getting a kick out of it, then I realise I'm singing along to some Van Morrison, in a nursing home, as-sang-by this old hippie dude.  I really  and I mean REALLY need to get out of town and go to a concert!!! I haven't been to one since April 2008. Five months later I got pregnant, so that sealed the deal on ever having fun again. Don't get me wrong, I adore being a parent, but I wouldn't mind diving in a mosh pit for the first time in forever.

Elizabeth Mitchell   -   Luckily, I haven't worked with any groomzillas personally, but I did meet with a prospective bride and groom once and the groom had a list a mile long of 'Do Not Play' songs for the band. As far as specific songs go, he banned numerous songs including Brown Eyed Girl by Van Morrison.

Jean Speedwell   -   There seems to me to be a group of people who control who gets to see Van Morrison and who doesn't. As far as I am concerned Van Morrison has a gift that is meant to be shared, not throttled.

Warren Samuel   -   For the millions of fans in Australia, can you please visit. It’s been 34 years. Too long. There is such a craving to see your music live here, that we have 3 different tribute shows. One bloke even looks like you and claims to have studied your music on YouTube for a squillion hours to get as close to the real thing as possible.

Saturday, 19 October 2019

The Healing Game (Deluxe edition) (2019)

Van’s output in the past few years has been nothing short of incredible with releases coming both on the Caroline and Sony's Legacy labels. One album that flew under the radar for many this year was the release of the expanded version of 1997's The Healing Game on Legacy.  Van’s mid-career gem was expanded into a three disc edition chronicling sessions, collaborations, and a great live performance from around the time of the original release. Incredibly there are six versions of the title song The Healing Game in this set of 44 tracks.

The original The Healing Game followed what many people considered was one of the lowest creative periods of Morrison’s career. Recent albums at the time included Days Like This, and two jazz-oriented "side trip" albums in How Long Has This Been Going On? and Tell Me Something: Songs of Mose Allison.

When originally released, The Healing Game garnered some lukewarm reviews and made it to only #32 on the U.S. Billboard chart. However, the addition of all the extra features, including the remastered sound and the great live tracks has put a new sheen on the original. 

Disc One contains the 10 tracks of the original album that follow his tried-and-true recipe: tasty blues vocals, jazzy horn charts and appealing mid-tempo melodies. There’s not a weak track on the list but standouts include Rough God Goes Riding, Waiting Game and the title track, all of which exude spirituality and emotional intensity. The extra songs include Look What the Good People Done, At the End of the Day, The Healing Game, Full Force Gale 96 and St. Dominic’s Preview.

Disc Two includes alternate versions of the original songs such as a jazz-inflected reading of The Healing Game and an extended rendition of Sometimes We Cry. Also featured is a previously unreleased recording of A Kiss to Build a Dream On, the Louis Armstrong standard. There are also some interesting collaboration such as The Healing Game and Don't Look Back, both performed with John Lee Hooker. Coincidentally both songs came from the Morrison-produced, Grammy-winning Hooker album called Don't Look Back that came out the same day as The Healing Game. There are also other collaborations such as a song with skiffle artist Lonnie Donegan (Jimmie Rodgers’ Mule Skinner Blues) and five songs with Carl Perkins, including Matchbox, Boppin’ the Blues, Sittin’ on Top of the World, My Angel and All By Myself.

Disc Three includes 14 songs from the set recorded live at Montreux on July 17, 1997. It features songs from The Healing Game alongside cover songs like Ray Charles's Fool For You, Anthony Newley's (Who Can I Turn To (When Nobody Needs Me) and Sly Stone's (Thank You (Falettinme Be Mice Elf Agin)) and more. This much-sought-after concert performance is officially available for the first time–with pristine state-of-the-art audio. Invariably, Van aficionados will compare it to A Night In San Francisco. Both have a Vanlose Stairway/Trans-Euro Train medley.

The Original Healing Game Players
The Montreux set is really good with Georgie Fame and Pee Wee Ellis in extraordinary form. Other musicians included Leo Green (tenor sax), Matt Holland (trumpet), Ronnie Johnson (guitar), Geoff Dunn (drums), Nicky Scott (bass), Robin Aspland (piano), and Brian Kennedy (vocals). Ironically, Not Feeling It Anymore is one of the strongest performances. In addition to the Vanlose Stairway sequence, the medley of Tupelo Honey/Why Must I Always Explain is a highlight as is Fire in the Belly and The Healing GameThank You (Falettinme Be Mice Elf Agin) and The Burning Ground are also strong songs. 

The original album was recorded in three sessions over more than two years, beginning in 1995. They happened at the same time he was making the Mose Allison tribute. In March 1996 Morrison collaborated with Perkins to record five songs. Around the same time Morrison visited St. Dominic’s Preview in a pared-down acoustic session for a thirteen part television series. It features Mary Black on backing vocals and Donal Lunny on bouzouki.

The album can be purchased through the official Van Morrison website. They even have the vinyl format available.  

Thursday, 10 October 2019

Another Theoretical Van Album from 1977

Blogger Paul is an amazing music fan. He finds obscure tracks, rarities and studio throwaways from numerous artists and recreates bootleg albums. His interesting Albums That Should Exist blog discusses where the tracks come from.  Of course, even though he appears to be making no money from his bootlegging, artists still feel it is only they who have the right to release their own material, not well-intentioned bootleggers. Unfortunately for Van many of us want to hear everything he's ever done, even if we know he's dead against it. Anyway, here's Paul's theoretical Van album from 1977. 

Van Morrison - All Around the World (1977)

The Perfect Breakfast - Grits, Sausage and Eggs
Here's the next in my long line of Van Morrison stray tracks albums. This one is kind of a twist, because every single song on it remains unreleased, and every single song is a cover version.

I've written in the past how, from about 1969 to 1976, there's about one full Van album worth of stray tracks for every single year. That's truly incredible, especially considering how consistently good those songs are, as well as the fact that there's probably still more from this period that has remained unreleased and unbootlegged. But it seems Morrison's creative fire started to burn lower around 1976. That year, he hardly recorded anything at all. His next album, A Period of Transition (1977) is widely considered to be just okay, after a long uninterrupted string of classics.

I'm guessing the fact that all the 1977 stray tracks I can find are covers are a sign that Morrison was having an extended songwriting dry spell, but he still wanted to try out new songs to stay fresh. Luckily, Morrison remained a great live performer, so these performances are all strong. Most of the songs here come from a performance in the Netherlands for the Dutch radio show called Wonderland. Pianist Dr. John and guitarist Mick Ronson were part of the backing band.

Morrison messed up on one song, Hallelujah, I Love Her So. He forgot the words to the second verse, and quietly mumbled his way through some incorrect words instead. So I patched in his singing from another verse to cover his mistake.

01. Grits Ain't Groceries  (Van Morrison)
02. Who Do You Love? (Van Morrison with Eric Clapton & the Band)
03. Call It Stormy Monday (Van Morrison with Eric Clapton & the Band)
04. Hallelujah, I Love Her So (Van Morrison)
05. Nobody's Fault but Mine (Van Morrison)
06. Fever (Van Morrison)
07. I'll Go Crazy (Van Morrison)
08. Baby, Please Don't Go (Van Morrison)
09. I Just Want to Make Love to You (Van Morrison)
10. Shakin' All Over (Van Morrison)
11. Misty (Van Morrison with George Benson)

Friday, 4 October 2019

Best of the Reader Comments

The Them Synchronised Swimming Team

Here is a selection of reader comments from the pages of this blog.

TMO   -   Madame George is an impressionistic painting... a Cyprus Avenue snapshot... dark street lit rainy night with the tragic lonely Madame George in focus. It's the feeling of sadness, loss, dreamlessness.

Unknown   -   I was at the concert at the San Leandro Rollerena to see Them and have been a huge fan of Van Morrison ever since. I was the spring of 1966 and I was 16 years old and had just gotten my drivers licence. This was also my home town and my first rock concert. I was sure glad how Van's music evolved through the years and moved away from rock and cemented his own style that showed his true artistic talent. The world is a better place because of George Ivan Morrison.

Harry Kee   -   I’ve noticed a few lyrical similarities, and even copies, from JP Dunleavy whose intense vivid portrayals of bohemian life of the 1950s and 1960s. He also references Kerouac and Christmas Humphries. He was only 14 when he left school but clearly wanted as a youth to explore literary works if the day. I can easily imagine that he was just trying his hand at writing in the same trendy vein of the day and it is a mistake to try to make a real story out of a fantasy. Of course, there are more concrete references in those early songs but Astral Weeks was more or less composed on the fly with several different versions performed and recorded, something he still does to great effect.

Unknown   -   The Maritime Hotel was part of my journey growing up.

Trevgibbonfilmandmusic   -   I think Beautiful Vision is up there as one of his very best. Greil Marcus is such an elitist. Beautiful Vision appealed to me because I first encountered it fully while living in Italy, driving through the Mountains with a friend. Its appeal was not immediate, it required repeated listens. The last three songs of the album suggest almost an entirely different direction musically thanks to a Moog synthesizer - and listening to outtakes from the period reinforces this. Celtic Ray pulls you into the Caledonian muse and is immensely listenable as it runs into Northern Muse and into Bailey territory with Dweller. Exploration of what it means to be of Caledonia (the northern regions of the West - the north of Ireland, Scotland, Scandinavia and how this whole area of earth seems to represent something deeply connected and spiritual to him. This infused with the lyrical ideas from Alice Bailey and Glamour and Religion, provides the connective tissue for Van too.

Jim Stanley   -   Van has trouble with covers? Have you heard Just like a woman? Or Miss Otis Regrets? Or Take Your Hand out of My Pocket? Or It’s All in the Game, etc. 

Wabrit   -   Walked past Van the Man sitting on a law wall on Little Clarendon Street in Oxford in the early 1980s the afternoon before his gig at the Apollo; decided on balance that it was more respectful to leave him alone contemplating the bright young things than blather some banalities at him.

Unknown   -   Sorry I missed you Ritchie Yorke. You lived in Erin, Ontario when I finished high school there. I was too young to realise how incredible a knock on your door could have been but old enough to appreciate your Van biography Into the Music. The book you donated to the Erin School Library which started me on a lifelong admiration of Van the Man and his work. If Ritchie's family is reading this, please contact me at

Unknown   -   Did Henry McCullough and Van Morrison ever play together?

Jim Stanley   -  A common phrase in Belfast is I wouldn’t run a marathon for all the tea in China. Van is kinda turning that on its head as his lovely lady is worth more than all the tea in China. I love the way he uses Belfast sayings in his lyrics, takes me back home. Tore down a la Rimbaud being another fine example.

Dan Boulder   -   Saw Bobby Irwin play at least five times with Nick and I remember him having a tambourine attached to his high hat stand! I was playing at a club called Los Padrinos in San Antone and I was the only musician there that knew and revered him. He sat in with our band and we never sounded better!!

Geoffrey Gustin    -   The version of Into The Mystic on July 10, 1974 at Musikladen is the opposite of forgettable. I can't get the guitar solo out of my mind and the piano was first rate. This was a superior arrangement to any other live version recorded.

Anonymous   -   I think most of the comments have covered every possible meaning of Madam George and those of you from Ireland, might have a more accurate image of the time and place. For me, sure, the transvestite, drug and cop themes resonate. I have continued to listen to Madam George for the last 40 years. Sometimes I try to focus on the lyrics but then the violins take over and vice versa. I's a very nostalgic song and one that hits me every time.

tracie   -   I’ve been working my way through the post Veedon Fleece catalogue, and so far this album is the one I go back to the most. It is most definitely not the narcissistic teenager that is rock n' roll. Maybe that's why the baby boomers didn't like it. It's grown up music produced at a time when growing up was frowned upon. It's also music for ears from a period when music was being overtaken by visual imagery. Even most of the lyrics aren't strongly visual. It really is a meditation that renders words meaningless.

Anonymous   -   Van Morrison lives in Pensacola, Florida on Lakeview Ave in the East Hill neighbourhood. I think he also lives with a songwriter named "Constant Change". Yea, that is her legal name! I know this is true because I had business dealings with them both several years ago.

Anonymous   -   Simon Gee (editor of the Wavelength Van Morrison fanzine) has now retired from the music business.

Anonymous   -   Friend and I were debating about what drink to use as a toast for Van's birthday. I laughingly suggested that any such drink must contain bitters. Then I came across a drink containing bitters called The Wealthy Bastard. We had quite a laugh. Happy Birthday, Van the Man.

Anonymous   -   I saw him at the Orpheum in LA when he did Astral Weeks. Flew from the east coast to the west coast for one day...worth it. But here's my dream. I was somewhere with Van at a music contest, like Name That Tune. His sweater was filthy and when I asked him about it he pointed out a butter stain, like it was a beloved family photo.

raefaal   -   Hi, Here are all the official Van gig dates of the 1985 Australian Tour: Melbourne  -  February 25, 26 and  27. Adelaide  -  March 2. Brisbane  -  March 5. Sydney  -  March 7 and 8. There was a Perth Entertainment Centre show. I'd like to know the date, because I was there! I've got a photograph of the Man at this gig. I cannot recall Mr Morrison talking at all. It was just head down and one song after the other until the show was finished; no encore. He played Summertime in England, my favourite song at the time. The crowd response was subdued. As the show progressed I was able to move up to the barrier and I spent most of the concert there. For a kid, it was quite special to be that close to this remarkable musician, and I loved every minute. Though others grumbled about his lack of interaction with the audience, I just thought he was great.

Jon Porter   -  I attended the show at the Sydney Entertainment Centre on 8 March 1985. Was looking forward to it for weeks. Started with an instrumental version of Moondance that went for 15 minutes. On walked Van who played for half and hour and was booed off stage. Only song I remember was St Dominic's Preview. Toyed with burning all my Van albums when I got home. Despite the concert, still love his music.

Rodney Olsen   -   There was definitely a Perth show. I was there. Raefaal's story is spot on. There were a lot of people walking out through the night as Van didn't communicate with the crowd apart from mumbling a band introduction a couple of songs from the end of the show. I loved it.

Kazooboy   -   Still no confirmation of the Perth date. Songkick and the Van Database show the 7 other Australian dates in Melbourne, Adelaide, Sydney and Brisbane. Could it be that there wasn't a Perth date? Is there any confirmation anywhere of the Perth show.

Anonymous   -   Van Morrison is the Picasso of Rock Music. He takes these songs apart and puts them back together in so many freaking ways. It's like cubism.