Saturday, 4 February 2012

5 Van Anecdotes which May or May Not Be True

What follows are various fan anecdotes which may or may not be true.  (In the age of the Internet I don't tend to believe anyone anymore.) 

  1.  Way back in the early sixties I came home from work one day from my job as a stevedore in Stockholm. In the kitchen was my then wife and a bunch of small dark haired Belfast lads drinking tea. Turns out it was band called Them in town to promote their hit "Here Comes the Night". The singer noting my muscular appearance asked me where I worked out.
It was an expression I'd never heard before.  Undaunted, I surmised that as work entailed unloading ships and it indubitably took place outside - I worked out in the harbour.  Van took it all in his stride.  

  2.  Years back, I attended a lecture by Fred Woodward, then most famous for his art direction of Rolling Stone. He showed a slide of a spread he'd designed for a Van Morrison article, and he said the reason it looked the way it did was because Van insisted that he wouldn't sit for a photo shoot, that the photographer had to shoot him during the interview. When the interviewer and photographer showed up to the chosen location (a pub), Van then insisted that the photographer couldn't even be in the same room, that he had to shoot through the window of the pub. This was the result (Matt Mahurin was the photographer).

  3.  Bob Dylan and Van Morrison once shared a British accountant, who, finding both men in London on business, invited each of them to dinner. At last the anticipated evening arrived, as - to the accountant's delight - did both of his esteemed clients. The host, however, was less delighted to find his guests in a taciturn mood.
Indeed, throughout the meal's several courses, not a word was exchanged between the musicians - or between either of them and their horrified host. At last the hours passed and Dylan left - whereupon Van Morrison leaned across the table to his host.

"I thought," he remarked with a twinkle in his eye, "he was on pretty good form tonight, didn't you?"

  4.  One foggy afternoon long ago, I was taking a solo hike on the Marin ocean cliffs. The fog was so thick one could only see a few feet ahead. Sound was muffled too, yet I kept thinking that a voice was wafting through the air. And it was a voice I thought I recognised. Eventually I nearly bumped into another figure, in cape and cap and with cane, walking slowly in the same direction. He was a short man, and I almost ran him over. “Christ, ya fookin’ startled me!” he exclaimed in a heavy Irish brogue. And then I recognised not just the voice, but who it belonged to: Van Morrison.   “I’m sorry, man!” I apologised. And then, without thinking, I launched into a little heartfelt speech about “how much I have loved your music for many years…loved your concerts…drove all over the place with your tapes playing… some of best memories in life…” etc, etc. Through all this, he just stood there, looking at the ground where the tip of his cane was grinding into the soggy soil. I finally ran out of words at about the same time embarrassment hit, and shut up. After a moment of silence, Van “The Man” Morrison looked up, slowly shook his head, and said: “I sure don’t know why people feel the need to tell me this kind of shite.”

5.  Back in 1993 I was interviewing Maria McKee for the college radio station I volunteered with. She loves Van Morrison and told me that when she met him finally after wanting to for so long, all he did was say, "Where's Bono? More wine."

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