|Things Van Fans Don't Do: Crowd Surfing|
Van Morrison, please read the following. These are stories from your people. Whether you like it not, you've affected people all over the planet in all kinds of ways. You're part of the personal histories of millions. What a mailing list! What an incredible global influence! What an opportunity for taking over a small country! Or even starting an MLM!
But seriously, I wonder what Van thinks about this whole narrative of a working class Belfast Boy becoming a global performer of such influence.
Anna M - I was familiar with Moondance, Brown Eyed Girl, etc., then one day on the radio I heard a song that captured me and it was Into The Mystic. I immediately went out and bought an album, then another, then another, then another. The feeling I get when I listen to his music is something I can't explain. I am 58 years old and the emotion, well the emotion makes me want to leave everything behind and go to another place (I don't know where). He has captured my spirit and lifted it so high.
Rita T. - Van Morrison has a wonderful song called In the Days Before Rock N Roll. The names of the faraway radio stations roll off his tongue in a litany of nostalgia: Telefunken, Luxembourg, Athlone, Budapest, AFN, Hilversum, Helvetia. Listening to his moody voice intone "I am down on my knees and I'm searching for Luxembourg" takes me right back to a winter evening in my kitchen, my ear pressed to the grill of the wireless, twiddling the knobs this way and that trying to bring in the six o'clock pop program on Radio Luxembourg for the first time. Reception was notoriously poor, scratchy and intermittent; it really did sound as though it was coming from far, far away. Finally I heard Connie Francis come through loud and clear singing Where the Boys Are. My introduction to pop music was underway!
The success of the foreign stations gave some music entrepreneurs the idea of setting up radio stations on ships anchored in the English Channel, just outside the territorial three mile limit. Radio Caroline started broadcasting from a re-purposed World War II naval ship at Easter 1964. By the fall Caroline had more listeners than all three BBC stations combined and the disc jockeys had become household names. Soon the Channel was bristling with other pirate vessels notably Radio Atlanta and Wonderful Radio London. Rock and roll music was unstoppable now and for British teens the sixties officially began. Even when the government passed the Marine Broadcast Offences Act in 1967, making it a crime to broadcast programming at sea, it was too late to turn back the clock.
Roy Merritt - When I first heard Van Morrison I just naturally assumed he was from the American South. His deliverance and the agony in his voice has always made me contemplate my home in North Carolina and other journeys I've made throughout this often blistering terrain. His voice evokes the good and evil that has existed in the southern heart since this nation came into being.
Harvey DuMarce - I’m glad to hear Van Morrison is still rolling along like a fine old car. I love that guy’s music. Don’t care if he’s grumpy. I love grumpy. I began listening to him at Berkeley in the 1970s and my listening hasn’t stopped. Keep on rolling. Keep on with the great music. You make life so much more interesting.
Brett - In 1965 I had been playing drums for about four years already. I was ten and was in my first band with my older brother and other older boys. I felt elevated to a higher status being in that band ("The Kings," later renamed "Page Five"), as all of the other members were 14 or 15. We played the "hits" of the day and, of course, one of the big ones was Gloria. My brother had a copy, it's flip side was, I believe, Baby Please Don't Go. We played many of the other standards for young Rock bands, and my focus as a drummer was on a kind of Mersey Beat. This had a strong back beat (a strong emphasis on 2 and 4 of a 4/4 beat pattern, or even all four beats given supreme emphasis, at times with a double back beat on 2 accented by two eighth note taps), Ringo would be the drumming example most people can relate that to, although there were many more. The rhythm of Gloria had just a flavor of that Mersey Beat emphasis but with more Rhythm and Blues thrown in; and, along with a lot of the Animals' tunes, it gave me a starting point for influences that combined American Roots music with British Mod sounds.
I didn't know anything about Van Morrison at the time, but that soon changed as he was soon to present and represent something no other musician would or could. His music was and is at once a sound so strongly influenced by African-American roots music/Spirituals, Romantic poetry and Irish Laments, yet those influences were and are internalised the way great artists do and not merely homages or impersonations that can be discerned directly.
Morrison could have gone the way of so many promising musicians and sold out after his Brown Eyed Girl, but he kept moving away from that limelight in favour of seeking a path guided by something else. I would compare him to Dylan in that way, a true artist, less inclined to compromise a vision and more inclined to follow his own muse.
Kate Mortimer - I have been a Van Morrison fan since I first heard Moondance and Tupelo Honey. As a musician, I enjoyed playing his songs on stage. When I first saw him live, I was overcome by his passion and I can totally relate to him being moved so much by the emotion of what one is playing that sometimes the audience is an irritant. Although it would be hard to pick out a favourite album or song of Van's, the song that helped me through the darkest moment of my life was Beautiful Vision. My two-year-old son had been killed in an accident and I was sunk in a deep depression. My husband brought me the tape when I was in the hospital - and I found such solace in the images and words in the title song. It is still a mystery to me how he could write those words with such feeling and understanding. I will be forever grateful to him. Thank you, Van, for ALL your work!
Mike Scarlett - Morrison was at The Memphis Music Festival about 12 years ago. I was really up to see because I loved his music. He was so drunk he could hardly talk, much less sing. I was so disappointed. I never listen anymore.
Nancy Cox - I introduced my 19-year-old son to Van Morrison songs. He would always sneak my CDs then I would hear him pulling into the yard playing Van Morrison. Then I knew he was the one that had it and I didn’t care. There was one that he and I would always listen to. When Into The Mystic came on I would grab his hand while riding in the car and tell him he was the most important thing in the world to me. As I ride in the car now I’ll play Into The Mystic and look over thinking of him and wishing he was still here, waiting for him to start singing. My son passed away at the age of 21 on January 7, 2008. I miss him dearly but I still have Into The Mystic and remember the times we rode down the road together singing and holding hands. Thank you Van Morrison!Ion - There are two songs of Van Morrison's that I listen to over and over; namely, Too Long in Exile, which is almost like a drug for me; it replenishes my immigrant heart with much needed pain. I guess I just like to feel sorry for myself, from time to time. The other song is Cry for Home which I like to torture myself with for the same reason, i.e., homesickness.
Phyllis McKee - In the late 1960s, the Band was playing at Boston's Symphony Hall, one of the first rock shows to appear at that venue. It was a loud, boisterous crowd, smokey clouds ascending to the ceiling. We were really ready for the music to start, when, unannounced, this guy came on stage singing Brown Eyed Girl. He wasn't on the bill, and he was singing this top-40s hit, which wasn't very cool in those days. The crowd started with a low rumble, and the boos got louder and louder. They forced this guy off the stage! (It was Van Morrison)Jim L-L - Van Morrison performs hackneyed phrases as if he is the only one who truly understands, and then we all hear it for the first time and then over and over again as we become hypnotised and transported. His recent song Behind the Ritual includes perhaps the funniest and intensely serious commentary on the transcendence and simultaneous meaninglessness of pop music, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah.