Wednesday, 30 November 2011

Strangest Fake Story About Van

The satirical website "The Onion" posted the following story online in January this year.  The question is why?  Please note well that this is a fake story apparently written for humorous purpose. 

Van Morrison Removed From Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame Following Allegations He Bet On Album Sales

Sunday, 20 November 2011

The Simon Gee Treasure Trove

Is this what "Wavelength Towers" used to look like?

I've been thinking lately about Simon Gee and the years he was working on at least two fanzines about Van Morrison.  Simon has been a Van Fan or Vanatic for decades. This led him to contribute to the Van Morrison newsletter and then to start Wavelength when the newsletter closed down.  He guided the Wavelength fanzine through some 45 editions. 

What I've been speculating about is what is exactly in the Simon Gee Van treasure trove?  He's been a collector of all things Van for years.  Fans from all over the world have sent him stuff.  I wonder what he owns?  There are pictures of things in Wavelength that you assume come from his personal collection.  I get the feeling he could start his own one man Van Museum.  

Come to think of it, what about a Van museum?  Now there's an idea. Would the great man (I mean Van) support it with his own items?  He'd probably hate it.  Perhaps Belfast would be the natural home for such a place.   Maybe I'm "talkin' all out of my mind' on this one but wouldn't it be great to visit a Van Morrison museum?  

I wonder if Simon or other Van collectors wouldn't mind opening up about their collection.  Also, wouldn't it be great to hear from Simon about Van.  Does he have a Van blog?  After running Wavelength for years surely he isn't content to not be contributing something to the world of Van. 

Finally, I hope I haven't offended Simon in any way.  I hold him in highest esteem for his incredible contribution in making well-researched information available to all Van fans.    

Friday, 18 November 2011

5 Interesting Van Articles Online

Van with The Band in The Last Waltz

I really like reading about the Man.  He's a complex character who's stirred lots of emotions in his fans and critics alike.  Here are some articles online I thought others might enjoy: 

  1.  It's not easy being a Van Morrison fan   -   a lament about watching the Man live and his uneven stage performance.

  2.  Concert review: Van Morrison performs 'Astral Weeks' at Chicago Theatre   -   A great piece on a Van concert from September, 2009.  Interesting fan comments follow the article.

  3.  A Sense of Ulster: Van Morrison's Belfast   -   a fantastic 2010 piece by Stephen Brown about Belfast and Van's nostalgic name-checking of parts of the part in the city.

 4.  Van Morrison and the Band   -   Peter Viney's 1996 piece delves into the history of Van's connection with the Band.  Also gives a thorough round-up of their combined recordings. 

  5.  Great Irish Writers: Garbhan Downey on Van Morrison   -   Writer Garbhan Downey's 2011 speech where he puts forward the case for Van Morrison as Ireland's greatest writer.  A wonderful tribute.   

Tuesday, 15 November 2011

20 Things About Van that May or May Not Be True (thanks Mike Gee)

   1.  He's an only child.  

  2.  He left school at 14. 

  3.  He's a sucker for chocolate ice cream. (aren't we all?)

  4.  He once told an interviewer that he eats nine full meals a day.  (But lately he seems to have lost weight so that can't possibly be true.) 

  5.  He told another interviewer that he has never performed a song the same way twice in his more than 40 years of performing.

  6.  He has been married twice  -  to beautiful women with long, dark hair. 

  7.  He always sits with his back against the wall.  (this is a lyric line too) 

  8.  He will eat a sandwich only if the crusts are neatly deleted.

  9.  He once found an interview so onerous that he ran off down the street trying to elude his questioner, who ran after him, and who later retaliated by writing that Van had 'the belly of a baker and skin the color of boiled cabbage.'

 10.  He sent a letter to one biographer listing thirty-six mistakes he had found in the book.   (Steve Turner?)

 11.  He has received an honorary doctorate of letters from the University of Ulster.

 12.  He has received an Order of the British Empire from the Queen of England.

 13.  He dedicated the Beautiful Vision album to Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard. 

 14.  He has expressed interest in teaching philosophy at Belfast University.

 15.  He once stopped in the middle of a concert in Holland and suddenly recited the Lord's Prayer.

 16.  In recent performances he has asked that alcohol not be sold during the performance.  

 17.  He has sung with Richard Gere and Kermit the Frog.

 18.  He recorded a version of CĂș Chulainn's saga for a cassette issued by a company called Moles of Bath.

 19.  He has said that his favourite single concert was for a handful of people on a winter night in the Church of Saint Stogumber in the Vale of Avalon - a free concert arranged by the local schoolteacher.

 20.  His favorite television show is Fawlty Towers.

Thursday, 10 November 2011

Wool Hall Studios

The Wool Hall Studios were created in the 1980s by the band Tears For Fears.  It is located in Church Street in the village of Beckington about 15km southof Bath.   

The studio is housed in an historical building and was originally going to be only a private studio for the band.  Soon however, other bands begn to use the facility.  This was particularly true after the SSL 6056 analog console was established.  Paul Weller, The Pretenders,  The Smiths, Joni Mitchell, 808 State, the Stereophonics, etc., were just some of the people who used the studios for recording.  

Van bought the studios in 1994 after recording five albums there.  The studios have been closed for a few years now.   

Wednesday, 9 November 2011

World of Harmonica

The World of Harmonica blog concentrates on musos who pull out the old harp every now and then.  Van naturally features with a few clips of his playing.  This isn't the most earth shattering of sites but it does make its small contribution to the Van story. 

Monday, 7 November 2011

Van Dances to Marc Bolan

Bolan Boogie Too Much for Madam George?

Van used to be quite a mover on stage.  Descriptions of shows at the Maritime sounds like he put Mick Jagger to shame.  However, time passes and we all grow up and slow down I suppose.  But a newspaper article by Dave Fanning casts doubt on the generally held belief that Van is as immobile as an Easter Island statue. 

In an article from the early 90s Fanning reports:

"I went to see Canadian band Tragically Hip at Whelan recently.  One of the band members invited me out for a post-gig drink to Lillies Bordello. Because this was Dublin on a boring winter's Tuesday night the place was relatively empty.  There was probably one couple on the dance floor.

Van Morrison arrived.  He was smiling and ready to party.  Or something.On the dance floor he boogied to T-Rex.  I relate this story if only to hear the clearly audible gasps of incredulity.  Van whooping it up to Marc Bolan?  Surely not."

Sunday, 6 November 2011

Michael Hayward's Excellent Site - Antiquarian Link Found!!!

I can't believe stumbling on to this old link to the Michael Hayward site.  You can navigate through some of it and just marvel at what might have been if it had been continued.  I used to read it a lot but then it ceased.  I'll try to keep this link here as long as possible for those who've never seen the site.     

Friday, 4 November 2011

Van's Hawaiian Shows

Beautiful Waikiki - A Long Way From Belfast

Van Hawaii T-shirt from Wolfgang's Vault
How many times do you think Van has played Hawaii?  Never? Would you believe he's done four shows in America's playground?

Van's first visit was with Them in 1966 at the tail end of the tour that ended it all for them as a band.  Them played at the Waikiki Shell on the 8th and 9th of July, 1966.  The Waikiki Shell seats 2400 people with room for another 6000 on the sloping grass.  Them also played at the Kauai War Memorial Convention Hall on the next night July 10, 1966.  

Van apparently, couldn't live without all that sunshine and returned to do a show at the Waikiki Shell on February 23, 1974. 

Given this connection with Hawaii I was surprised that he wasn't honoured in the Honolulu Hard Rock Cafe.  I went there in September this year and tried to find some Van memorabilia somewhere on the walls.  I couldn't so naturally I emailed my disappointment to Hard Rock.  I got a nice reply that they've referred my request on.  So who knows, maybe something of Van will feature there among some of the lesser stars they've chosen to honour.     

The Waikiki Shell: the Hollywood Bowl of the Pacific
Clinton Heylin's Can You Feel the Silence has some more information about the Hawaii shows.  He writes, "According to Jim Armstrong, the first night 'the band played well, and the guy accused us of being drunk. The next night we got absolutely smashed and Van fell into the drums, and the guy said, "That's what I wanted. That was brilliant".' 

Any further information about the four concerts is difficult to dig up.  Even the normally reliable Guenter Becker's Song Database site contains no information about what songs were played. 

Can you imagine Van walking around Honolulu in a Hawaiian shirt, shorts, long socks and sandals?  Or lying on the beach at Waikiki?  Or trying out surfing?  It doesn't fit his image even though on Keep it Simple he did trot out the ukulele on half of the tracks.  He's more the smooth urban trans-euro sophisticate who gives the impression that he likes sunlight about as much as a vampire does.  (Is a cameo in the Twilight series a possiblity?)    

(One final thing - there's some great Hawaiian music out there and it's highly collectible.  You may have been put off by the multitude of quickly produced albums which cater for a less-than-discerning tourist market who just want to recall their balmy maitai-fueled nights in Hawaii.  The physically huge singer known as Iz is a great place to start.)