Thursday, 29 August 2013

Van Turns 68

Van turns 68 on August 31 and every year I ask how will you celebrate?  I like to make it an exclusive Van music day.  I usually start with the older Them albums in the morning and continue chronologically till Born to Sing around 2 in the morning.    

Have you ever wondered what a guy like Van gets for his birthday?  He's the classic guy who has everything.  A DVD set of old British comedy shows?  A model of his private plane for the desk?  A scrapbook of articles from his Them days?  Striped pyjamas? A 100 pound voucher for a magic shop?

Happy 68th Van.  You're the greatest.  You rock more than Michael Buble!  You're better than T.A.T.U, Jimmy Osmond, Tiny Tim, The Cheeky Girls, Aqua, David Hassellhof, Milli Vanilli, Bros, Racey, Vanilla Ice, MC Hammer and even Boney M!!!  But seriously, Van, we love you.  I speak for hundreds of thousands of fans whose lives you've enriched through your incredible music career.  

Now, a bit of info about the number 68.  (who said blogs aren't educational?) 68 is the largest known number to be the sum of two primes in exactly two different ways: 68 = 7 + 61 = 31 + 37. In normal distribution, 68% of values are within one standard deviation from the mean. 68 is also the atomic number of erbium. 68 degrees Fahrenheit is the ideal temperature for developing black-and-white film.  In the restaurant industry, it may can mean "put on order", being the opposite of 86 (number) which means "take away".

Summer '68 is a song by Pink Floyd on the album Atom Heart Mother.  Other performers turning 68 this year include Neil YoungEric Clapton, Deborah Harry, Gary Brooker from Procul Harem, Bob Marley, Rod argent from the Zombies, Jose Feliciano, Ian Gillan from Deep Purple, Donny Hathaway, Jandek (reclusive Texas artist), Davey Jones, Lemmy from Motorhead, Don McLean, Goldy McJohn from Steppenwolf, Ron McKernan from The Grateful Dead, Ian McLagan from The Faces, John McVie from Fleetwood Mac, Bette Midler, Rod Stewart and Al Stewart.

Sunday, 25 August 2013

Van at the London Rainbow, 1973

The following post from Chuck Bauerlein is an incredible take on Van's Rainbow concerts from 40 years ago.  For the sake of brevity it has been edited but I urge you to check out the link.  His story deserves to be read in its entirety.

It's Too Late to Stop Now

After graduating from Loyola University in New Orleans, I flew to London in the summer of 1973 to take a six-week graduate course in “Modern British Fiction” in early July. When I landed at Heathrow, grabbed a glossy weekly called Timeout, devoted to pop culture and critical commentary.  I casually flipped through the magazine and came to an ad that immediately caught my eye. “Van Morrison, live at the Rainbow Theatre! July 23rd and 24th!” was the headline. But in thick, 60 point block letters, stamped over the headline were these soul-wounding words: “SOLD OUT!”  My heart sank.

Van Morrison was coming to London!!!!  Besides the Beatles or the Stones, there was no one I wanted to see perform more than Van the Man. He’d released a series of astonishing recordings around this time, including Astral Weeks, Moondance and Tupelo Honey. The three of them constituted part of the soundtrack of my college years. I had to try to see him. I stored the dates away in my mind and waited for the concert dates to arrive.

One fellow, a Nigerian student named Alfa, overheard me asking the others about Morrison tickets and he said he would go with me if I would wait until tomorrow. He had some studying to do that night….but he invited me to come to his dorm room after 10 and promised we could listen to Astral Weeks and play chess. So that’s what we did. He dropped the spindle over the record and Moondance never sounded so good.

When I grabbed a copy of the London Times at breakfast, the paper’s rock critic had written a glowing review of the first night’s show. The Times’ critic compared Morrison’s performance to the kind of funky spontaneity of the Band’s best live performances. That comparison and reference hooked me. I had to go.

Afra and I took the tube down to south London, where the Rainbow was located. We asked everyone we saw if they had extra tickets for sale. When we stepped off the underground, the exterior of the Rainbow Theatre was a carnival scene. The smell of marijuana wafted through the dank summer air.

Afra and I headed for the front of the concert venue looking for the standing room only line but we suddenly stopped cold. The queue was a mad scramble of pushing and shoving fans, fighting to get near the front of a small door on the side of the theatre. The price of admission was only two pounds, but already more than 200 people were in line. Afra shrugged his shoulders and started walking down the long line shouting out “Who has tickets!??!”

Despairing, I headed in the opposite direction and found myself under the Rainbow’s awning, staring through the glass doors of the auditorium at the lucky few who were already mingling inside. This dark haired kid about my age chose that very moment to come out of the theatre. We stood there looking at one another, confused by the circumstances of the moment. I knew him. He knew me. But how? Where had I seen his face? Who was he? Then it came to me. His name drifted out of the subconscious depths of my head. Dyer O’Connor. 
“Hey,” he said. “Don’t you go to Loyola? Weren’t you in American History with me?”
I explained I was taking a summer class at the University of London. That I was a big fan of Van Morrison but the tickets to the concert had been sold out before I landed in London. I was hoping to snag a scalped ticket.

“I have one for you!” he said. “My date cancelled on me.”

I looked over my shoulder for Afra. He had disappeared into the anxious throng at the standing room only line. Meanwhile, I had joined the lucky few. I passed through the doors of the Rainbow Theatre with Dyer O’Conner, a guy I barely knew.
Our seats were in the balcony, not more than eight or nine rows from the rail. The Rainbow had been designed as a gilded palace of Hollywood films in the early 1930s and was called the Astoria Cinema. Crystal chandeliers hung from the ceiling, if memory serves, and replicas of Greek statues were situated in nooks on the interior walls of the theatre. The Who played the first rock show there in December of 1971.  Eric Clapton, Queen, the Sweet, Little Feat and Bob Marley and the Wailers all recorded live albums there in the mid-‘70s. The venue is also believed to be the first place Jimi Hendrix burned a guitar on stage.

A journal I kept of my trip to Britain that summer has this entry for July 24th: “I can’t really remember what songs he did. Some from the new LP, Hard Nose the Highway. Also, “I Just Want to Make Love To You” – “Brown Eyed Girl,” “Gloria” – “Moondance” – “Caravan” – “Everything” -- “Wild Night” – “Moonshine Whiskey” – “Domino” – “Gypsy” and three encores. He finished with Listen to the Lion ….It was his first London appearance in eight years and I got to go! I still hardly believe it!

The band Van brought during his summer of ’73 tour was called the Caledonia Soul Orchestra. It was not a standard rock quartet. The bass, lead guitar, piano and drums were complimented by horns and strings: a sax and trumpet player; a trio of violins, a viola player and a cello player.  
The Rainbow concert seemed to teeter between two contrasting styles of music: the airy, light touches of Warm Love and These Dreams of You (which highlighted the delicate playing of the strings) and the brassy bombast of Gloria, Wild Night and the blues tributes. I had seen Morrison perform 18 months earlier at the Villanova Field House with a much different band. He was nervous that night, unsure of himself. 
His bearing at the Rainbow was much, much different. He was confident, not just a performer but a conductor. The performers backing him were in close orbit with him and he directed them with a casual nod of his head or a sharp glance. I had never witnessed any concert, any performance, quite like it. He held the audience in thrall and, during some quiet moments in the performance, the performance felt like a church service. The  audience began to engage the performer in call and response and small talk.
There were some moments, during his final tune, Cypress Avenue when the silence became too much for the audience to bear; when Morrison seemed to be waiting for someone to give him a signal to perform. This happened on several occasions during the journey of this amazing song. The effect felt magical…. And you can hear it if you listen to the song on It’s Too Late to Stop Now,  a recording of this concert that was released in February, 1974.    
About halfway through this epic version of Cypress Avenue, which goes on a mind-bending journey for 10 minutes, Morrison sings a phrase that I still hear as “And they say in France!” Then he pauses. I am uncertain if this is precisely what he is singing or not. Some wags in the balcony call out to him “France!” I was stoned, I know, and I have no proof of this except what I hear on the record, but I swear it was me and Dyer, feeling the effects of his Kenyan stick, shouting down to the stage from our balcony seats. He repeats the verse: “And they say in France!” We, now joined by half a dozen other emboldened (possibly stoned?) members of the audience, shout back the invocation: “France!” Morrison does his lyric a third time. One more time “France!” comes back to him.
Morrison, in complete command of both the audience and the moment, improvises a short series of vamps and tossed-off asides to the audience before his locomotive of a band crescendos in a heightened, audacious wall of noise that ends with Morrison shouting out his signature phrase at the climax of the song, giving his album its name: It’s too late to stop now! Then he exits stage right, striding like a lion.
It was a moment – a concert – I can never forget. Of course, having a record of the concert makes the details easier to assimilate and provides me with other half-remembered details of that eventful evening. When the record came out seven months later, I was back in New Orleans. I had long forgotten how buzzed I was when Morrison began playing Cypress Avenue.  But when the needle hit that part of the record where Dyer and I shout out “France!” I realised I had become a tiny thread in a magnificent quilt. I could hear myself on It’s Too Late to Stop Now.  
Dyer and I took the tube back to northern London, chatting about our recollections of what we had just witnessed.  We got off at different stops and I was sure I would see him again before I left London. I didn’t. And when I got back to New Orleans, I lost his address, scribbled on the back of the July 24th Rainbow Theatre concert ticket. 

Wednesday, 21 August 2013

Believe it or Not - Part 5


1.  Qantas plays love song requests on its From the Heart entertainment channel. The most requested song is Michael Buble's Everything. Runner up is Van Morrison's Have I Told You Lately.

2.  Scottish band Wet Wet Wet was sued by Van over its use of his lyrics in the song Sweet Little Mystery.  Sweet Little Mystery was released in 1987 and reached the UK Top 10.  Both parties agreed to an out of court settlement.   

 3.   In a blog post called Van in a can a kind of Van theory of romantic comedy movies was described.  “When they don’t know how to end the movie, they play Van Morrison.”

  4.  A clip of "And It Stoned Me" was featured on the We Love Cannabis blog.  
5.  Several sites online feature males who were called gay for liking Van Morrison.  In one case the fellow in question wants to know the connection.  
6.  A new New Zealand band is described as "if Van Morrison and Robert Cray had a love child, this would be it". I knew IVF would get out of hand!

 7.  A witty line doing the rounds online is, "Van Morrison's music is one of the best arguments for the existence of God. His behaviour is one of the best arguments for Satan's influence."
8.  According to the February, 1968 Hit Parader, Van's first paid gig happened when his aunt from Detroit gave him $5 for singing "Money Is The Root Of All Evil" when he was 2 years old.  (65 years later he makes an album basically saying the same thing. The album being referred to is Born to Sing from 2012.) 

  9.  Van's last single on the Billboard Top 40 charts happened in 1971 when Wild Night reached #28.

10.  Van's Have I Told You Lately That I Love You came in at number 19 on Nadine Bubeck's Baby-Making Playlist. 

11.  In the early 1980's Van jumped onto a Belfast bus and told passengers he'd been terrible.  He also said he'd wished Jimi Hendrix had been in his band and handed out a few albums.

12.  On a TV appearance in the late 1980's he said the blues in America had come from early Irish settlers not African slaves.

13.  Supposedly, after storming out of an ill-fated radio interview with Janice Long, Van was seen in the carpark pounding his fists on the roof of his manager's car.  

14.  Dexys Midnight Runners almost included a spoken word exchange between Van and Kevin Rowland on their version of Jackie Wilson Said.  It was pulled at the 11th hour.  

15.  Another urban legend about Van Morrison is that he once took a journalist on a trip across the Netherlands and left him stranded and penniless in the middle of the night.    

Tuesday, 20 August 2013

Call Me Up in Dreamland

Someone named Aghrivaine wrote the following post:

I dream I jam with Van Morrison

Very interesting dream last night - a pastiche of stuff that's in the news and recent events, with a dash of artistic struggles. I was wandering around a flea market, when I saw Van Morrison. He was rummaging through old records, and though I knew he was a private and kind of grumpy guy, I was surprised to see him. In the dream world, he'd very publicly left for Russia as a protest against the shallowness of Western society. (This is Edward Snowden in the news, peeking into my subconscious.) So I tentatively greeted him, told him that I'd found his music to fill a place in my heart that nothing else could quite fill. Then I asked what made him come back from Russia.

A cantankerous soul, he said, "I'm not back from Russia. You see nothing, OK? I'm just visiting for a wedding." (Yesterday I was talking with my boss about weddings and going home to see people for them.) I asked him what made him choose Russia. He said, "No bullshit. People say what they mean, and they spill what's on their minds. You gotta have a thick skin, but if someone tells you they're your friend, they are your friend for life." (This pertains to recent strains in my social circle. To put it mildly. And my own bad feelings about that and other past failed friendships.)

So I asked him if he wanted to get a drink. He begrudgingly said yes. Somehow this turned into talking about songwriting. And really, I admire Van Morrison's songwriting maybe more than any other living musician - his stuff is so lean and tight and meaningful without being unsubtle. It's a marvel of elegance - elegance in the mathematical sense, that he gets you from the start of the song right through to your heart in just a few notes, and then stays there. If I could write fiction like Van Morrison writes songs, I'd be incredibly successful. So I'm trying not to enthuse too much in the dream, and I figure by the time he finishes his beer he's on his way, but he says, "OK, let's sit down at a piano and write your song, OK?"

So we did, there was a piano there in the little bar we're in, and we grabbed a sheet of (conveniently available) sheet music. And I start to hum it to him while he plucks it on the piano, and I write down the words. And before too long, there it is - and so we play it together, he's on the piano and I had a little drum-kit with brushes, a snare, a small cymbal, just enough to lay down some jazz percussion, just supporting the piano, not loud. Just a base. And I fumble through this song, but I'm excited and I'm feeling it and it's fresh in my mind - and I'm getting supported by Van Morrison, who takes off on wild improvisation around the melody. And in a couple of minutes we're done and I'm beaming. And he says, "Yeah, not too bad. A good start."
And this is like the best compliment I've ever gotten in my life.  So I thank him for his time,  his talent, his teaching. And he says, "Look, I gotta do this Christmas thing for a friend. Why don't you sit in, do percussion?" I'm completely bowled over. Explain I'm not trained or anything, I was just playing by feel, but he's OK with that, best way to do it, in his opinion. So we go to this church basement and a dozen people or so are there, and we start to play some Christmas music. (This is because we watched the last episode of Orange Is The New Black the other day, which had a Christmas pageant.) And he plays this incredible improvisation on Joy To The World - it's a total deconstruction of the song, and then a rill and a whir and reel around the melody and back again. And I kept up on the drums, and it was really great, very satisfying deep in the guts, where your harshest critic lives. So we've done the set, and I ask him if we can play my song?

So he shrugs, and I hand him the sheet music, and we try it again. But it just doesn't gel this time. It's not awful, but it's not good, either. Stumble a few times, and I'm trying really hard to recapture that moment and it's just not working. So after we're done Van shuffles the paper around and I'm like, "I'm sorry, that's my fault obviously. I don't know the song well enough, I guess, I couldn't remember it."

And then I get a message from my subconscious about being an artist in the form of an admonishment from Van Morrison. "It's not because you don't know it well enough. That's not where it comes from, it's not about 'knowing' the song. It's about being honest, and singing without any kind of protection from the world. It's about making music that makes you vulnerable, and making that beautiful. If it doesn't hurt, you're not doing it right. And if it comes straight from your heart, but you don't know the song, you're still doing something beautiful - but if your performance is technically perfect but has no soul, no one will care."

Thank you inner Van Morrison. I can make art that matters, and that passes your standards, when I'm honest. But don't worry about how people perceive it, or getting it wrong, or be burdened by technique. Check.

parrismcb   -   I didn't know you appreciated Morrison's music too. His latest album, Born to Sing: No Backup Plan pretty much sums it up.

aghrivaine   -   The first thing I thought when I woke up was "parrismcb would love this." Between dream encouragement from Van Morrison, and a real life encounter with Henry Rollins, I seem to have my muses straightened out!
You know it's funny, I've loved Van Morrison since the 80's, but I just got Astral Weeks a few months ago. I can't believe it took so long - it's just one of the greatest albums ever made. Changed my life! And I really wish I'd figured that out in time to see him live at the Hollywood Bowl, that would have been stupendous!

Friday, 16 August 2013

Top 10 Van Sites

1.  Mystic Avenue blog   -   The Van Morrison News blog has returned with a new name.  The John Gilligan controlled site has the "latest and greatest" on the great man.  Surely this is the number 1 source to check on anything Van, especially current news?  Contains links to lots of other Van sites. 
2.  Van's Official Facebook page.  Lots of interesting stuff and with about 600, 000 likes it's obviously reaching a lot of casual fans. 
3.  Wikipedia   -    A great source of information and you can spend days following all the links.  Allows the reader to trace obscure parts of the Van story.  Accuracy and comprehensiveness are what the Van fan finds here.
4.  Gunter Becker's Song Database   -   Mr Becker has produced an obsessive site crammed full of information/data on just about anything to do with Van.  How does this guy do it?  Honestly, where did he find all those concert track listings?  The length of every song done in concert?  All the concert medleys?  Does this guy ever sleep? Amazing.
5.  Van's Official site.  It actually has content now!  Some great audio for the fans, but we want more.  

6. Van Morrison Cafe   -   Contains info about Van's bootleg output.  Really interesting stuff and a chance to check the accuracy of Mr Becker's site. 

7.  Amazon-  Yes, that's right Amazon.  It makes the cut because it's full of interesting reader reviews and comments about Van albums and books.  It also has 760+ songs available for short previews and purchase. 

8.   an ebay 'Van Morrison' search (Worldwide, all categories)   -   It's not just about the buying and selling.  Type 'Van Morrison' on ebay every so often and you'll be amazed at the array of Van stuff out there. One of the amazing things you find is how many ripoff CDs have been created from the Bang material. I'd love to know how many different albums that Brown Eyed Girl has appeared on. It must be hundreds if not more than a thousand. 
9.   Visions of Pat blog   -   Pat's blog is a fantastic from-the-heart blog.  It chronicles one man's career as a Vanatic.  However, he's slipped in the ratings since he started painting walls blue and adding yin and yang symbols and making movies about frogs! 

10.  Modestly, I nominate this site.  If Sunshine Coast Van Fans can make the Top 10,  things are pretty bad all over. Obviously the world is waiting for Stephen McGinn, Simon Gee and others from the Van Morrison Newsletter/Wavelength Magazine era to create their own Van sites.  Let's gather in the town square and demand they unlock the vaults!     

Tuesday, 6 August 2013

Them Again 2013

Van fans in Northern Ireland just have to hear about the opportunity to see two 1960s members of Them.  A Them line-up is performing with the Sabrejets as part of the 2013 Woodstock Rhythm and Blues Festival. 
The 2013 Woodstock Rhythm & Blues Festival is the sixth year of the festival.  Highlights include Chris Farlowe and the Norman Beaker Band, Ronnie Greer Band with Ken Haddock & 3side Story, THEM & The Sabrejets, Rab McCullough Band & Voodoo Hounds and Grainne Duffy Band & The Blues Katz.  The event promises a number of great shows.  Chris Farlowe is also well-known to Van fans.   
The Them line up includes Eric Wrixon on keyboards and Billy Harrison on guitar.  Other members include Billy McCoy (guitar), Albert Mills (bass), Peter McKinney (drums) and Mike Wilgar (harmonica).  They will be playing at the Malone Rugby Club on Saturday, August 10, 2013 from 8 pm. Admission is only six pounds.  What an opportunity!  Tickets are available from the Belfast Welcome Centre.  

Sunday, 4 August 2013

Who is Michelle Rocca?


 Van Morrison's current wife is Michelle Mary Teresa Rocca born in Dublin, Ireland in 1961.  She is a former model, television presenter, and winner of the Miss Ireland title in 1980. 
She is the daughter of Paddy and Maureen Rocca and granddaughter of Italian immigrant Egidio Rocca who founded the successful business, Rocca Tiles.  Rocca grew up in a large family with two brothers and three sisters. She attended University College Dublin studying Greek and Roman Civilisation and Italian and French Archaeology.  She's fluent in several languages and has earned an MA degree from Trinity College in Dublin and also a degree from Bristol University in England.
Rocca worked in the family business and also modelled until she joined RTE in 1987 as a television presenter. In 1988, she co-hosted the Eurovision Song Contest with Pat Kenny in front of a worldwide audience of 600 million viewers. This high profile gig surprisingly didn't lead to a bigger career on television and she continued to juggle her modelling career with occasional presenting jobs, such as the 1990 Miss World contest.
Her personal life has been subjected to some pretty intense scrutiny, particularly in Britain and Ireland.  She began dating Arsenal and Irish International footballer John Devine when she was 17 and they were married in 1981. The couple had two daughters, Danielle and Natasha, but were separated in 1987 and divorced in 1990.
She then became engaged to Cathal Ryan, son of multi-millionaire Tony Ryan who co-founded Ryanair. After living together for two years, they separated when Michelle was expecting their child, Claudia, who was born in April 1991.  Michelle then lived the single mother's life with her three daughters.  She was seen by friends as a good mother devoted to her kids.  Her home life was non-stop grind of taking the three kids to school, cleaning toilets, cooking, picking the kids up from school and putting the kids to bed. 
Michelle then instituted a law suit against Cathal Ryan over an alleged assault at a society party at a stud farm owned by Sheikh Mohammed of Dubai in 1992. Eventually Rocca was awarded just £7,500 in a case some estimated cost her £200,000. Morrison supported her, turning up in court most days.

Van first met Michelle Rocca in the early Nineties, at a dinner party given by Desmond Guinness at Leixlip Castle, a mix of celebrities, intellectuals and aristocrats. Michelle, so the story goes, initially thought Van Morrison was Val DoonicanTheir relationship was first revealed in The Sunday Independent June 27, 1993.  The public seemed fascinated by the unlikely relationship and they often featured in the Dublin gossip columns, an unusual event for the reclusive Morrison. Rocca appeared on one of his album covers—1995's Days Like This.  She also appeared on the cover of the October 1994 tribute album, No Prima Donna: The Songs of Van Morrison. Then in 1995 she moved to Clyde Lane in Ballsbridge, next door to Van’s place.
Van was intense and full-on but he was not without his charms. Most nights or days out with Michelle and Van were like pages from an F Scott Fitzgerald novel. There was a boozy lunch with Van, Michelle and Marianne Faithful in Cookes Cafe in the mid-Nineties where someone knocked a coffee all over Faithful and she stormed out. Then there was another night in the Shelbourne in 1995 Van introduced Michelle to Mick Jagger, who unwisely barely raised his head in acknowledgement. She soon dressed him down for his lack of manners. 
There were food fights in La Stampa and George’s Bistro. One night in 1994 in La Stampa a guest offered to pay Van for his share of the meal. Van put his hand out and Michelle said with a laugh that she would cut his hand off if he took it. There was a running joke with Michelle that when Van opened his wallet, bats flew out.

Rocca began to exert a fashion influence on Van. A friend of Rocca's named Ian Galvin — then a chief buyer at Brown Thomas — started styling Van Morrison’s clothes. Marianne Faithful had rung Michelle to complain about Van's clothes saying that she had to change his look because he "looks like he wears clothes that he slept in”.  The 'look' Rocca developed for Van includes a three-quarter length slim coat, the hat, the glasses, the white coat and the black jeans.
In 1996 The Daily Mirror newspaper broke a story that she had been two-timing Van with Angus Gold, who at the time was racing manager in Newmarket for Sheikh Hamdan Al Maktoum, one of the world’s richest men.  Over time there has appeared little evidence the story was correct.  However, Van and Michelle's engagement was broken off. A few months later the couple reunited.

Like all couples and families, the marriage hasn't been without its share of difficulties.  In 2004, daughter Natasha was seriously injured in a car crash in America, where she was studying and modelling. Michelle and Van rushed to her bedside. She recovered and is now pursuing a TV career in London. On January 20, 2009, Michelle's 42-year-old brother Patrick killed himself, as the recession hit his property empire. A father of two sons, he had enjoyed a lavish lifestyle, playing tennis with Alan Sugar, counting notorious weirdo Uri Geller among his friends and once offering the use of his helicopter to Bill Clinton. A generous man, he contributed much to local groups in Porterstown, near Castleknock, where he lived with his family. Her brother's death has been a difficult burden for Michelle to bear. 

Van and Michelle have settled into a comfortable domestic arrangement.  They have two children together  Aibhe born 2006 and Fionn Ivan born 2007.  Both parents are determined to maintain privacy for themselves and their children. However, the relationship hasn't always been easy. The occasional epic row would spill out into public showdowns. However, in general Michelle was a match for the curmudgeonly side of Van's nature, able to defuse with a well-timed quip much of his unsociable behaviour. She had a gift for gentle mockery that could take the sting out of some of his darker preoccupations.
While Van values his privacy above all else, perhaps it's obvious to point out that the price of fame in the entertainment world is that lack of privacy.  If Van had continued as a window cleaner for his whole life he wouldn't have had the intrusion on his personal life like he's had.  But would he have really traded all the houses, money and fame for the life of a humble window cleaner