Thursday, 30 January 2014

More Van Fan Insights

Here’s most of Greentangle’s post about being a Van Fan.  

Angry Islamist Cat Stevens
I sold most of my CD collection before I bought this laptop and as a result have wound up rebuying, ripping, and reselling a few which I decided I was sorry I’d sold. My Van Morrison collection was actually all on cassettes, so in order to get rid of them I bought a Greatest Hits set (in typically cantankerous Morrison style, these 3 CDs apparently didn’t have room for some of his actual hits such as Blue Money) and have found myself listening to it repeatedly in the past couple weeks, just as I repeatedly listened to a Bruce Cockburn collection at Yellowstone.

I saw Morrison in concert once, in Boston on a split bill with Bob Dylan. I remember that Dylan dominated the show and that Morrison seemed to give a fairly perfunctory performance, letting other band members often carry the show. But from all I’ve read about both performers, it could easily have been the other way around the next night.

My music collection tends to be split fairly evenly between those I bought because of the lyrics and those I bought because of the sound. Morrison falls firmly in the second category—joyful, excited, lush, romantic, saxophone, harmonica, driving r & b, soul singing with a jazz sensibility.
My first serious girlfriend was a brown eyed girl who worked at a motel near the stadium where the New England Patriots played. The motel and the football team are still there but I lost track of her more than 35 years ago.

Morrison’s another of the spiritual seekers whose music I was often drawn to—George Harrison, Cat Stevens, Mike Scott, Bob Marley. Morrison’s words are a mix of Paganism and Christianity—naturally, I go for the Nature worship (?) but even at their most explicitly Christian the lyrics usually don’t bother me because of the sound. For me, a song title like Whenever God Shines His Light doesn’t sound very promising. But it’s a great upbeat song which ends with variations of the repeated line, “Put your feet back, on higher ground,” which could repeat for a couple more minutes and I’d be perfectly happy. I don’t know, maybe it’s about climbing mountains.
Most of the slow songs are intense and moving also, such as Vanlose Stairway and Celtic New Year. But to be honest, there are some songs which are every bit as lethargic and ponderous as you’d expect from the titles.

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