Thursday, 25 April 2013

Neil Armstrong Dies


Last year Neil Armstrong died at the age of 82.  Naturally this has lead to all sorts of 'tributes' including song lists on various blogs featuring "moon songs".

And this is where Van comes in.  Van's Moondance seems to make every list in this awkward tribute to the lunar pioneer. 

Others include:  Man on the Moon – R.E.M., Bad Moon a Rising – Creedence Clearwater Revival, Harvest Moon – Neil Young, Moonage Daydream – David Bowie, Moon Shadow – Cat Stevens, Blue Moon – Cowboy Junkies,  Fly Me To The Moon - Frank Sinatra, Moon River - Louis Armstrong,  Walking on the Moon -  The Police, Moon Over Bourbon Street - Sting, Bad Moon Rising - Creedence Clearwater Revival.

Tuesday, 23 April 2013

Funny Things People Say - Part 1



Gilby Mitnick   -   My only complaint--and it is a very teeny one--is that Van Morrison could still take a lesson or two or three or even four from more established giants than himself in the music industry. I feel that learning from some of his musical superiors would help produce an even better Van Morrison CD in the future. For example, he could learn all about autotune from the likes of that pop-country princess, Taylor Swift, teenybop pop from the likes of that Justin Bieber, and jailhouse rap from the likes of Lil Wayne.

Daniel A. Cook - On the other hand, you have the new album Days Like This. It ain't so cool. It's totally secular. I'm very disappointed. I think Van stopped praising God and He took away Van's gifts as a result. You can really tell a difference. The words he sings are empty and that famous emotion Van has always sung with has disappeared. Does anyone know the address where I could send a letter to Van? Yes, I'm that disappointed!
 
Colm O Donnell (Magee College)   -   Van Morrison can't sing. 
Matthew Dicks    -    What song would you want at your funeral? These Are the Days by Van Morrison. I love the way the song intertwines the past, the present and the future, and the harpsichord is simply divine.
Anonymous   -   F### me I hate this bloke. Wailing, bellowing f###pig. Cod soulful fat necked wailing bastard. He’s so f###ing horrible even Van Morrison fans wouldn’t put him in their top 10s because secretly they too know he’s a deeply unlikeable, egotistical knobhead with a massively inflamed measure of his artistic worth.
Eoin Gill   -   “It just suddenly hit me. He’s just not very good anymore is he? I’ve tried listening to his new stuff…and by new I mean anything from the last 20 years…and it’s just shite isn’t it? It’s just him moaning about being famous and the music accompanying it is dire. Bland, boring guff. I tried to justify still liking him to myself and to others but I’ve now got to face facts. He’s shit.” 

Miles Lewis   -   I’ve never been to Liverpool where I’m informed the Beatles came from. Van Morrison could sing in tune and being Irish could have definitely out-drunk Bob Dylan, both important criteria for judging rock stars. I am sure you will accept the above as conclusive argument.

Friday, 19 April 2013

Van and Farrah Fawcett


 

Van's relationship to Farrah Fawcett and Ryan O'Neil has attracted persistent comment in the last few years.  But it's not so unexpected.  Famous people like to hang around other famous people.  Sometime this hasn't worked out for Van like the Richard Gere episode.

Farrah Leni Fawcett was born in Corpus Christi, Texas on February 2, 1947.  She died of colon cancer on June 25, 2009.  She was an award-winning actress who rose to international fame when she first appeared as private investigator Jill Munroe in the television series Charlie's Angels.

Fawcett has been a fan of Morrison since the 1970s.  As she was battling the cancer that would eventually take her life, Morrison heard that she would be unable to attend his concerts at LA's Orpheum Theater in Los Angeles because of her condition. He had the shows filmed and sent her copies for at-home viewing in Malibu.  Van added the song ‘Queen Of The Slipstream,’ to his setlist even though he hadn't performed it in years.  It was a special request from Ryan O’Neal who wanted the song dedicated to Farrah.
Ryan O'Neal and his grandchildren reportedly visited Van backstage after his show on May 9 in 2009.
"Van is also a huge fan of Ryan and Farrah's work," a representative for Morrison said, revealing that his favourite movies featuring the stars include Fawcett's The Apostle and O'Neal's Barry Lyndon.
The artist's 1987 song Queen Of The Slipstream also appears in Fawcett's NBC documentary about her battle with cancer.  Morrison's 1987 romantic ballad, Queen of the Slipstream, is featured in Farrah's Story, Fawcett's documentary about her cancer battle.
Fawcett's Charlie's Angels co-star Kate Jackson, Marla Maples, Joan Collins and Tatum O'Neal were among the 200 guests attending the hour-long Catholic service at the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels in downtown Los Angeles. Longtime pal Alana Stewart and Fawcett's doctor Lawrence Piro delivered the eulogies.  With city police and private security lining the streets, a hearse drove up just a few minutes before the funeral began. Ryan and son Redmond served as pallbearers carrying Fawcett's casket, adorned with yellow and orange flowers.

A man in a kilt played "Amazing Grace" on the bagpipes at the beginning of the service, which also included Bible readings and prayer.
"The funeral was really just beautiful and so sweet," Lisa Fawcett, the actress's cousin, said. A special moment during the service came when "everyone just embraced Redmond," she said about Fawcett's 24-year-old son, who was allowed to leave jail to attend.
After the service concluded, vans shuttled guests to the reception at the Jonathan Club, where a band played Fawcett's favourite songs, including those by Van Morrison.
 

Sunday, 14 April 2013

Random Fan Comments

 
 Ian M.   -   Van is notorious for rebuking journalists and fans who seek to unravel his mystical ramblings. I find that disingenuous but also vaguely understandable. I personally think that he is reluctant to spell out explicitly his artistic and spiritual preoccupations although all too willing to cite influences as diverse as Kerouac, Rimbaud, Coleridge and Yeats. The reason? I think he is fearful that he will kill the muse, that he will stifle the very thing that gives him (and his art) sustenance.
Bent   -   I think you are right there, Ian - Van is an anti-intellectual in his public persona, but in his songs he embraces a lot of literary and esoteric deep thought. It may well be that this grumpy facade exists to protect his fountains of innocence.  About Van's legendary grumpiness, I have never experienced it personally at any of the concerts I've attended. I have a theory that Van may be suffering from some form of cyclothymia or 'Bipolar Light', a mood swing disorder, and that he actually frequently has referred to this state or condition in his lyrics (e.g. Tore Down a la Rimbaud).
Bashlets - Wasn’t there once a story of Van visiting the Stones when they were recording Voodoo in Ireland, and Van was wasted and threw up on Mick in the car.
Pat  -   The Brown Eyed Girl reference in Wavelength is because Van used to listen to a DJ called Peter Wolf who was always playing Brown Eyed Girl and one night Van actually phoned him up at the radio station and they became good friends. Peter Wolf later joined the J Geils band.  As to Tore Down A La Rimbaud, I have always thought that that song refers to suffering from writers block.
Is your Van signature authentic?
Ari Wilson  -   I'm not going to compare Born To Sing No Plan B with Astral Weeks like some stupid critics did, this is Post 1990's Jazz/Contemporary Rock Van Morrison we're talking, this is no Folk Rock, I mean a person must really have no idea what music is about and say something like that, it reminds me when "Crack The Skye" came out and critics said Mastodon, like always started the record with a Metal attack, Oblivion, and I was like WTF?! these people don't even know that Oblivion is not a aggressive opener like Blood And Thunder or The Wolf Is Loose. Or when the stupid Grammy team decided to merge Hard Rock and Heavy Metal awards once again into one category because they couldn't differentiate them easily (!!!). It's just sad to see these pigs are running the media that affects most people's minds. Anyway, the record follows Van Morrison's later efforts, continuing his own brand of Jazz/Blues and it's full of great tunes, indicating the important point that he hasn't ran out of ideas after all these years. Songs like If in Money We Trust, Goin' Down to Monte Carlo, Mystic of the East are some real classic tunes.
Tom Casagranda   -   I have heard that Van openly flosses in restaurants, that he buys suits a size too small, and that he deleted his duet album with Linda Gail Lewis after she declined his advances.  Though, if you ask me, it should have been deleted after a week. Linda did a far better duets album with her brother, Jerry Lee, in 1969.  Linda played piano on some tracks, and Van had the piano track removed. A case in point was Just Like Greta on Magic Time. Initially, this had Linda on it, but Van then went and had her parts removed.

Stoneage   -   Van is great but he must suffer from a social disorder of sorts I'm afraid.
Tom Casagranda   -   I think he's always had it, be it refusing to play gigs for a long time, anti social behaviour in the true sense since Them days, and general all round pettiness with grudges and slights magnified to the nth degree.  I still love his music though.

Rick Rodrigues   -   The tour that year was billed as Van Morrison's Rhythm and Blues Revue. He had some blues legends as guest stars (John Lee Hooker, Junior Wells, Jimmy Witherspoon) and turned the show over to them many times, walking off the stage himself. They provided stellar performances. However, local people had gotten used to this yearly event and started complaining about a $30 show that wasn't all Van. there were stories about it in the local press and a rather large stink was raised. Van wasn't playing the songs they wanted, the ones they were familiar with. If anyone of these people had listened to his current album, Too Long In Exile, they would have known this was the kind of music, with these guests, that Van was playing. It was a return to his roots, as it were.  Personally, I thought the show  was great and felt lucky to be exposed to all this music.  Anyway, all I know is that he hasn't played SF since, and the December gigs had become a tradition. As they say in science, "Coincidence does not necessarily mean causality", but I've always felt that these ungrateful and close-minded attitudes drove him away.  Just one man's view, for what it's worth.

Latebloomer   -   I read somewhere that his crew hates him so much they spit in his drinks. I remember reading the reviews when he came to Constitution Hall in DC to perform songs from Astral Weeks. He was disdainful of the audience, verbally abused his band and crew, and just generally behaved like an @#$%&.
Floorbird   -   I remember seeing Van years ago wearing a three piece suit hat and shades at the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival. It was at one of the tents, he was off to the side of the stage watching a Cajun/zydeco band and it must have been a hundred degrees. Guess he was trying not to be noticed.

Saturday, 13 April 2013

Quotes About Solly Lipsitz

John Kelly   -   More significant was Solly Lipsitz who ran Atlantic Records on High Street.  Morrison always speaks highly of Lipsitz, who was himself yet another source - both of records and of information. He was, and still is, a committed jazz fan and someone who over the years had met the likes of Sidney Bechet and Louis Armstrong. His record shop and others in town were absolutely vital to Morrison, who was by this stage also keeping up with the latest developments in what they were calling rock 'n' roll. Solly had all the records. Jazz and blues.
Van Morrison   -   He was passionate about jazz especially. I had a regard for the man. He was a music critic who actually made music himself.   (Notice how Van has always been generous in his praise of those who influenced him or those he felt were great artists from the past.  It's the present he seems to have most problems dealing with. In some interviews he has even said no artist from the present was of interest to him!)  


Hugh Odling-Smee‏ - Farewell Solly Lipsitz. Crazy name, crazy guy but a huge influence in this artistic Siberia.
sparky_lob69 - Such a gentleman - I was hoping to find some of his music online but haven't had much luck yet.
colm Ó Domhnaill - I can bring him back to Foundation Studies in 1966 when the art college was still on top of the Belfast College of Technology!

Jackeeadio   -  He was Northern Ireland's leading authority on jazz.  My uncle Jimmy played trumpet with him in a jazz band in the 1940's.  He worked in a record shop where Van Morrison's father bought all the jazz and blues records that Van grew up on.  My mother's family were friends with his family, so she might have known your father too - I must ask her......Belfast is like that!  I've met him a few times in the past and he's always fascinating to listen to.
Yellowmonkeytree   -   Solly!!! - Such a blast from the past - keep seeing him every decade or so pottering about and he looks just the same. Reminds me of George Melly in a Belfasty sort of way....

Madra   -   a really funny and charismatic guy - we used to have liberal studies lectures off him, way back in the mid 1980's when i was at art college at the Ulster poly in jordanstown. he looks exactly the same age in your photo now, as he did then!
 
Ian Adamson   -   Van Morrison played two special concerts at the Europa Hotel as part of the Belfast Festival at Queen’s in November, 2012. Van returned to his hometown and to his musical roots for two shows, where guests enjoyed a concert in an intimate club atmosphere. The first was a black tie dinner with sparkling wine reception, the second tonight was a smart casual dress supper club event. Van performed with his beautiful daughter Shana. I sat with Solly Lipsitz and his wife. 


 
Stuart Bailie   -   I visited Solly at his home once, on the way to Lisburn. He pulled out records and pictures and articles that he had written for Melody Maker. There were mementos of triumphal nights and visiting legends. He ran Atlantic Records on High Street and it was there that George Morrison, father of Van, had bought his tunes. The empathy between the jazz fans lasted until the end and Solly was commissioned to write sleeve notes for Van’s 2012 release, ‘Born to Sing: No Plan B’.
Eddie McIwaine   -   His lifelong hero was Louis Armstrong and he was one of the first people to welcome 'Satchmo' when he played the King's Hall in 1962.
Eamonn Mallie   -   He knew 'them all' Melly, Heaney, Longley, Morrison, Dillon, Shawcross, & Middleton.

Tuesday, 9 April 2013

Solly Lipsitz Dead at 92


Solly Lipsitz, one of Northern Ireland's most influential figures in the world of music died on March 30, aged 92.  A prominent member of Northern Ireland’s Jewish community he was known as ‘Northern Ireland’s Mr. Jazz’.  He also helped organise the Jazz Club of the first ever Belfast Festival in 1961.  His lifelong hero was Louis Armstrong and he was one of the first people to welcome 'Satchmo' when he played the King's Hall in 1962.


He enjoyed a distinguished and influential career in the local music scene. He was a former music critic with the Belfast Telegraph and owned both the famous Atlantic Records shop specialising in Jazz imports and the Jazz Club on the Embankment in Belfast. He was an Honorary Member of the Royal Ulster Academy of Arts and is credited for discovering a number of important local music talents.  He was also an avid book collector and an art aficionado, for a time lecturing at Belfast College of Art and Design. 


Solly's connection with Van stemmed from his ownership of the Atlantic Records record store.  He imported all kinds of American jazz and blues records at a time when they were virtually unknown on the European side of the Atlantic.  Van's father George was an avid collector of records particularly blues.  He took his son Van along with him on buying trips on Saturday mornings.  Their usual haunts included the record stalls at Smithfield markets and then on to Atlantic Records. 

Solly said in an interview, Van's father used to come in every Saturday.  He was more interested in the blues side of things - Howlin' Wolf and Little Brother Montgomery.  I remember Van very well in a grey school cap.  
Beautiful Old Belfast
Van had a lifelong relationship with Solly and their paths crossed many times.  Solly is credited on two albums, Magic Time (2005)  and Born to Sing (2012).  In fact Solly was commissioned to write sleeve notes for Born to Sing. In a number of interviews Van described the influence that Solly and the music he brought to Belfast had on his development. "I had a regard for the man," added Van the Man. "He was a music critic who actually made music himself."   
Van joined dozens of mourners in the Jewish section of Carnmoney Cemetery in Newtownabbey for the funeral of Solly on April 3.   

UPDATE/UPDATE/UPDATE/UPDATE:

Check out the fantastic audio interview with Mr Lipsitz conducted by Van over at Van's official site.

Sunday, 7 April 2013

Dead Girls of London


Dead Girls of London is the song that mark's Van Morrison's only collaboration with Frank Zappa.  It centres around Zappa's rejection by girls at the celebrity haunt known as the Tramp. 

Tramp was opened in Central London in 1969 and continues as a private night club with an exclusive clientele. A club of this nature is obviously a magnet for attractive young girls many of whom are on the look out for their big break in music, film or fashion. Zappa found it was the only place around that was open at 2 am whe he finished his recording sessions.  Apparently he was rejected on more than one night at the Tramp by various London girls now immortalised in song.

Dead Girls Of London was co-written by electric violinist L. Shankar.  Zappa wrote the lyrics, and both men composed the music. Originally Van Morrison supplied the vocals.  However, since Van was signed to the Warner Bros. Records label who Zappa was in a legal dispute with at the time, Zappa was unable to release the song on his label with Morrison's vocals, and so it was re-recorded with vocals by Zappa and Ike Willis. The original version has appeared on a variety of release including the official compilation called The Frank Zappa AAAFNRAAAAAM Birthday Bundle 2011.

The original release of the song (without Van) was as a 12" maxi single on September 24, 1979. It was then released on the album Touch Me There.  Touch Me There was an album by L. Shankar (credited as "Shankar") released on Zappa Records. Shankar performed acoustic and 5-string Barcus Berry electric violin, string orchestra, and provided some vocals on the album. It was produced by Frank Zappa, and released by Zappa Records.
Vicky Blumenthal provides the chorus on "Dead Girls Of London," "Knee-Deep In Heaters," and "No More Mr. Nice Girl," while Jenny Lautrec sings the lyrics to the album's title track, "Touch Me There," and Shankar himself sings the lyrics to the album's final track, "Knee-Deep In Heaters."

The album was released on Zappa Records in 1979, and was reissued on CD by Barking Pumpkin Records in 1992. It is out of print.

Original vinyl release  (Zappa Records, 1979)
Side One:

 1.Dead Girls Of London (L. Shankar: Music, Frank Zappa: Lyrics, music) – 5:23
 2.Windy Morning (Shankar: Music) – 3:57
 3.Knee Deep in Heaters (Shankar: Music, F. Zappa: Lyrics) – 5:38
 4.Little Stinker (Shankar: Music) – 3:20

Side Two:

 1.Darlene (Shankar: Music) – 2:56
 2.Touch Me There (Shankar: Music, F. Zappa: Lyrics) – 3:03
 3.No More Mr. Nice Girl (Shankar, F. Zappa) – 8:16
 4.Love Gone Away (Shankar: Music) – 3:33 

Personnel
Lakshminarayana Shankar – Acoustic violin, 5 string Barcus Berry electric violin and string orchestra. Vocals on "Knee Deep in Heaters"
Phil Palmer - Mandolin, acoustic and electric guitars
Dave Marquee - Bass
Simon Phillips - Drums
James Lascelles - Fender Rhodes, organ, acoustic piano, synthesiser
Jack Emblow - Accordion on "No More Mr. Nice Girl"
Stucco Holmes (Frank Zappa) - Vocals on "Dead Girls of London"
Vicky Blumenthal - Chorus on "Dead Girls of London," "Knee Deep in Heaters," "No More Mr. Nice Girl"
Jenny Lautrec - Vocals on "Touch Me There"
Ike Willis - Vocals on "Dead Girls of London"


Other Appearances of the Song on Record
 


L. Shankar: Touch Me There

Anyway The Wind Blows

You Can't Do That On Stage Anymore Vol. 5

Prostate cancer victiom aged only 54
Buffalo
The Frank Zappa AAAFNRAA Birthday Bundle 

and on various bootlegs, tribute albums and cover albums


Thursday, 4 April 2013

Period of Transition - Van's Maligned Album from 1977

In the following post music journalist Rob Steen blogs about rediscovering some of Van's lesser albums.  For the full article see Rock's Back Pages.  In this excerpt he digs out 
Period of Transition

It ain’t easy being unique
Rob Steen  -  28 Jan 2013
I did an extremely un-me thing the other day. Come to think of it, I can’t think of too many music scribes who would have done it either. I dug out an old album and reversed my opinion. In a good way. 
The waxing in question was A Period of Transition, one of the least beloved of all Van Morrison’s works and one I had not listened to in its entirety since its release in 1977. At the time, sure, I’d noted the exceedingly occasional less-than-weedy constituent – Heavy Connection, Cold Wind in August – but the overall sense of disappointment, after an interminable three-year wait since the superlative Veedon Fleece, had been overwhelming. No album had let my teenage self down with a bigger, more dispiriting bump. 
Nor did it help that, after a painful promotional interview with Nicky Horne on Capital Radio, the Man Himself, having kindly signed my copy of Astral Weeks (now framed in gold and living large on the lounge wall), came across in person as the biggest grouch since The Grinch. How on earth, my sister and I wondered as we discussed this with his shortlived manager Harvey Goldsmith, could someone capable of such beauty be so…so…so…the opposite? 

Four decades on, A Period of Transition sounded positively inspired. Maybe it was the fuller sound afforded by a combination of CD and iPod as compared with a wafer-thin slab of vinyl on a cheap record player, but here, in all its uncelebrated glory, is Van’s Stax album. Maybe, in this age of download and overload, the presence of a piffling seven songs, only one of them exceeding five minutes, now sounds refreshingly concise. Maybe, after a period during which he had dabbled with all sorts of unfulfilled projects that would have been eminently worth releasing officially by a less picky performer – plus some unreleased sessions with The Crusaders that at least in theory sound gobsmackingly mouthwatering – it was the shift from white musicians to black. 
Gone were Jeff Labes, John Platania, David Shaar and Jack Schroer, instrumental heartbeat of the band that gave us the showstoppingly magnificent It’s Too Late To Stop Now, still my favourite live album; in their stead, alongside Dr John (keyboards and guitar), came Reggie McBride (bass), Ollie Brown (drums) and Jerry Jumonville (sax). From the opening You Gotta Make It Through The World, the result is mostly as funky as hell.

Basic Details About Period of Transition
 Track listing  (All songs written by Van Morrison)





 Side one
 1."You Gotta Make It Through the World" – 5:10
 2."It Fills You Up" – 4:34
 3."The Eternal Kansas City" – 5:26
Side two
  
 1."Joyous Sound" – 2:48
 2."Flamingos Fly" – 4:41
 3."Heavy Connection" – 5:23
 4."Cold Wind in August" – 5:48
Van Morrison – acoustic and electric guitars, vocals, harmonica

Ollie E. Brown – drums, percussion
Marlo Henderson – guitar
 Jerry Jumonville – tenor and alto saxophones
Reggie McBride – bass
Joel Peskin – baritone saxophone
Mac Rebennack (Dr. John) – piano, electric piano and guitar on "It Fills You Up"
Mark Underwood – trumpet
1977 Charts
US Album Charts   -   43
Album Charts   -   23


Monday, 1 April 2013

Van and Leonard Cohen


It's surprising how many people like both Van and Leonard Cohen.  Van Fans seem to favour the older singer songwriters who have endured over time.  People like Neil Young, Bob Dylan and Leonard Cohen often feature on Van Morrison fans' lists of other musical interests.  Justin Beiber, Adam Lambert and Miley Cyrus usually don't. 
In the case of Leonard his recent global touring has won him a legion of new fans.  Sure, the touring has been forced on him through being ripped off by a former manager, but the shows have been really well-received.  Unlike Van he doesn't stick religiously to some 90 minutes contract.  Shows often extend to over three hours.  Even teenagers are being won over to Cohen's style through his stellar concert performances. 

Van and Cohen probably have more similarities than Van would care to name.  Both gained fame in the 60s but are still relevant today. Both like WB Yeats.  Both are poets, although Cohen could claim to have the edge on Van in that area since he's published a number of books of verse.  Both have been delivering great concerts by the fistful in their post-pensioner years.  Both also dress smartly in concert with expensive suits and and hats. 

Jailbait
Recently I've tried to track down any connection between the two.  Although the Internet is full of people declaring their love for both Van and Cohen, there seems to be a lack of any real connection between the two. 
Cohen in SAS training
The only connection found is the fact that they shared the same manager, Mary Martin.  Following her four-year apprenticeship with Grossman, Martin took on music as a permanent calling by managing and helping to launch the enduring careers of Leonard Cohen, Van Morrison and Rodney Crowell among others.
Van seems to have made no comment about Leonard Cohen and and one may assume Cohen isn't really a performer he rates highly.  Still it seems  like the two could get together sometime.  Although van admires blues performers he does work with people outside the blues pedigree - people like Chris Farlowe, Lonnie Donegan, Acker Bilk, Georgie Fame, etc. So maybe there's a chance for a collaboration, but Van better be quick since Cohen is approaching his 80th birthday.
While Van seems to ignore Cohen, the same can't be said of the urbane Jewish Canadian.  He has commented about Van on a number of occasions.   He's admitted to being a fan of Van Morrison. When asked to name those he admired back in 1975 on the “contemporary music scene” his response included Van.   He said, " I also like Van Morrison very much, including his superb ‘Veedon Fleece’ effort."

In a 2001 online chat with fans, Cohen declared, " As the Talmud says 'There’s good wine in every generation'. I love to hear what Dylan has to say and Van Morrison and Joni Mitchell and Tom Waits and many others."

In a 1974 interview he was asked about Van and replied, "I’m very fond of his work. I don’t know him. I love his work as a matter of fact."
 In a recent online post one interviewer claimed he once asked Cohen if he had ever met or worked with Van. Cohen's reply was a disappointing, "I once phoned him  years ago about doing a project together but nothing came of it."

Van Vs Leonard: the Fans Speak

Amnesiac   -   They're both excellent songwriters, but I guess I prefer Leonard Cohen because I love just about every song he's released.  
Max   -   Definitely Van Morrison. Both are amazing songwriters, but Morrison has an edge in vocals for me. Favourite Leonard Cohen has to be Hallelujah, just because it is so influential, one of the greatest songs of all time. For Van Morrison, I have to say either Astral Weeks, Brown Eyed Girl, or Summertime in England.
Trickzta   -   prefer Van the Man but hat's off to Mr Cohen for being the individual genius that he is.

The Original TB Sheets
David V   -   I have to go with Cohen even through I'm a big fan of Van. But most people don't realise that Cohen was also a great poet. Two of my favourite poetry books by him are "The Spice-Box of Earth" 1961 and "Flowers for Hitler", 1964. Both I bought and still have when they were first released. Many of his poems have been anthologised in Canadian school books. And as one realises most of his lyrics are poetry. And being Canadian I have to go after Cohen on this one.
Wire and String   -   I feel like Cohen is the better lyricist. and Van Morrison is the more accessible of the pair. I also feel like Van Morrison's early years are maybe just a bit more consistently good quality, whereas Cohen tends to be hit or miss for me. but certainly through the years, both have been inconsistent. i think i am actually leaning Van Morrison.
Sssss S   -   Leonard Cohen is the better lyricist. Why? Cause I have no idea what he's saying, yet it opens up my imagination like someone opening a window in a stuffy room with smoke that's curling like a highway above my shoulder. I feel mentally stimulated when I hear him. As for Van Morrison, he seems like the better, ah what's that word... ore emotional guy. More passion in his music. "I'm nothing but a stranger in this world." Dang man, this guy's got depth. Alas, I've only heard Astral Weeks and Songs of Leonard Cohen (ie only one album from each).  I'll go with Songs of Leonard Cohen. I've listened to that more than Astral Weeks, though that album is still close to my heart.

vtd288   -   I am a huge fan of Van Morrison, but I like Leonard Cohen too.

Mike H  Music Man in New Orleans   -   I am so old that I remember both when they were just getting started. LOL I prefer Van Morrison but not for any other reason than his songs tend to be more upbeat for the most part. I do enjoy listening to Cohen as well though.
vambo number six   -   Van Morrison is my favourite artist after Dylan, and Leonard Cohen is right up there too. These are NOT my favourite tracks, because I don't feel like making that kind of decision. Just two right off the top of my head. There are plenty of them. Van's Wonderful Remark and Cohen's And The Future. 
Mr. Wildflowers   -   Leonard Cohen by far. I love Van Morrison, but Leonard Cohen's my favourite artist ever. His music means more to me than anyone else's, and seeing him in concert was one of the greatest nights of my life.

Lady Silver Rose    -  I have to go with Van Morrison, as I couldn't get into Leonard!

Sarrafze   -   Van Morrison. While he does just churn them out, he nevertheless has more talent and is a better songwriter.    Morrison -- Brown Eyed Girl (still great with the unmasked passion)    Cohen -- Suzanne.

Shane   -   yes, both are very good, but I prefer Van Morrison.

Greyhound   -   Van is much more accomplished and from his early sort of rock/blues days has pretty much covered all the musical genres.  Morrison – Gloria     Cohen - Sisters of Mercy.

Sits Vacant   -   both are ghastly boring depressing people.

David B   -   Van the Man!

Ford Prefect   -   Rave on Mr Yeats - I rate them both equally.