Saturday, 27 December 2014

Extra Fan Stories

Sally Haig   -   I saw the inimitable singer, Van Morrison, at the Masonic last night. He had a full band, horns, keyboards, percussion and he played sax himself with great panache. His set list and his voice was perfect. He never talks to the audience but he is closely attentive to the audience. He never does an encore but it is not necessary. He closed with Gloria and the audience sang loud on the chorus.  As we walked back to the hotel I heard one person saying, ‘too many horns’. Never, you can never have too many horns in the horn section. I was dumbfounded by that remark….Van sings Jazz, Blues and Rock, and he takes the care and expense to have a full band accompany him for the sound he wants. It was very, very good. Too many horns indeed.

Stuart Bailie   -   1982 and Van Morrison is onstage in Belfast, chasing his rapture across Summertime In England. A roll call of the poets, the mystics, the romantics and the lightning catchers. More than eight minutes, and not a bit of it surplus. He’s calling out to Coleridge and Wordsworth, Blake, Whitman and Beckett. On saxophone there’s Pee Wee Ellis, sometime James Brown associate and he’s matching the singer’s fever, blowing with abandon. As is his wont, Van revises his  lyrics from the recorded version, sending more names into the ether.

Ralph Ueltzhoeffer   -   In June 1966, Morrison and the Doors were the opening act at the Whisky a Go Go on the last week of the residency of Van Morrison’s band Them. Van’s influence on Jim’s developing stage performance was later noted by John Densmore in his book Riders On The Storm: “Jim Morrison learnt quickly from his near-namesake’s stagecraft, his apparent recklessness, his air of subdued menace, the way he would improvise poetry to a rock beat, even his habit of crouching down by the bass drum during instrumental breaks.” On the final night, the two Morrisons and their two bands jammed together on Gloria.

Van Sickle   -   To be honest, I’m not actually trying to be glib. The first time I heard the album Moondance by Van I was with one of my first true loves. It was a warm summer evening, overlooking a lake, sitting inside my first pick-up truck. When Crazy Love started to play it was forever locked into my mind as the quintessential  romantic ballad. Sadly, the relationship ended before it ever had a chance to begin. Even the truck eventually fell apart. What was left was the memory of one the greatest feelings a person could ever have. Forever linked to that song, it seemed only fitting that the driving force that I knew existed inside of me would from then on be referred to as crazy love. When the time came to come up with a name for my company, Crazy Love seemed like the only logical choice.

Cillian Murphy   -   Beautiful Vision by Van Morrison. I am a big Van fan, always have been. Recently I re-bought  this album on vinyl. This was a record my dad listened to a lot when I was a kid. It was released in ’82, and is part of his Celtic revivalist/ mysticism period I guess. It is a strange mixture of folk and gospel with traditional elements thrown in. Although I dearly love Veedon Fleece,  Moondance, Astral weeks and St. Dominic's preview, there is something unique about this album. It has a serious groove to it, and deep soul. Listen to it again and give thanks to Van.

John Jay   -   I don’t want to say that I don’t like Van Morrison.  That is obviously not true or I would not be posting about him.  The thing is, I worked as a bouncer, all 160 lbs of me at the time…if only that were true today, at The Bull & Finch Pub (Cheers) in 1984 and 1985.  We had this DJ that played Van Morrison until I thought I was going to lose my lunch.  It wouldn’t have been so bad if he mixed in Wavelength or Blue Money once in a while, but no….it was straight Brown-Eyed Girl and Moondance until I didn’t care if I ever heard those songs ever again.   The girls love Van The Man.  I get that.  Really I do, but the guy has been a crooner for decades now.   Pop music, if that is what you want to call his once fresh sounding Irish Folk Rock, is a thing of Morrison’s past if you ask me.  Any artist is going to be pulverised back to the stone age if their catalogue is reduced to five songs, but in Morrison’s case the rest was sit down and pay attention ballads.  Usually last of my list on things to listen to at home.  That doesn’t make me right or wrong, it just makes me a respectful Van Morrison fan from a distance.   I own everything up until Avalon Sunset (1989), but I took a pass on the rest.  I don’t even listen to Astral Weeks that much to be honest.  I love Tupelo Honey (1971) and Saint Dominic’s Preview.  Even Moondance is still very listenable if you skip the title track (repetition, not quality is the reason for that remark).  There are several very good Van Morrison songs amongst those first ten or so records, but nobody ever hears them anymore.   He’s only got five songs don’t you know (insert sarcasm here)?  Most people would call themselves Van Morrison fans I would venture.

Nytechy   -   The tour with Georgie Fame in the 90s(?) was ace. Downhill from there I'm afraid.

Guey   -   Saw him at WOMAD with Georgie Fame early 90s, and he was excellent; even *gasp* joking with the crowd.

PigletsDad    -   I love Veedon Fleece. Saint Dominic's Preview is very good too. It's Too Late to Stop Now may well be one of the best live recordings ever made. I saw him live about 5 or 6 years ago. It was pretty patchy, but a few songs were brilliant.
Seeker   -   I like Common One but it's a difficult album to get into as it treads a fine line between genius and clever dickery. When Heart Is Open is a truly beautiful 15 minutes, one of my favs that.

David Ellwood   -   worked with him many times and he never fails to be an interminable misery. He has a large digital clock next to stage so he can time the end of the show. Doesn't matter where he is in the song he walks off stage.

Stackowax   -   I saw him in the mid-80s in Oxford and he did exactly that--just walked off in the middle of the song. Before that he seemed pissed that he even had to be there. Before he came out, his band did a couple of instrumental numbers and they were fantastic. While he was on stage, it was easily the worst live show of any kind I've ever seen.

d.m. butcher   -   Seen him live twice and would agree with everything said so far. I would not go out of my way to see him again. For me, Van’s music is the type that I have to be in the mood for, so that is another reason I wouldn’t bother seeing him again. I love some of his albums especially Hard Nose the Highway and Common One plus the usual top Van albums. Definitely best kept to records IMO.
The Decameron   -   I saw Georgie Fame looking into the wings then looking to the band and waving with his hand to say " keep bloody playing" while the Man was having an attack of stage fright again. I even like his religious stuff like "When will I ever learn" even though I'm an atheist.
Mrclick   -   I reckon I bought my copy of Common One in the early 80's (I have all Van's stuff up to 1995 when I pretty much gave up on his new music, although his catalogue continues to mesmerise me). Anyway, I played it once and filed it away under "forget" until half an hour ago. My heart mustn't have been open that day.  Just played it, and its wonderful. Reminds me of Miles Davis' In a Silent Way somehow.  Funnily enough Miles was a git, too. I, however, am quite nice, but a terrible musician.
Jeff Black  -  I have a family of Brown Eyed Girls, and that song has always been a big favourite among the four of us. We used to listen to it driving around with our daughters when they were little.  Recently, the four of us attended a wedding in the family.  We were sitting and enjoying a nice time. Then the DJ played Brown Eyed Girl. Immediately, I was transported back 20 years and could hear them both singing along in the back seat.

I sprang into action. I just knew that we had to have a “family moment” as this special song was playing, so my hand shot up to flag down our younger daughter to come over and join us. I waved and I waved but to no avail. She didn’t see me. Then I realised something really important. She didn’t see me because she was playing a valuable role that day.
At that moment, I had to let go, just a little, of one of my Brown Eyed Girls. She wasn’t the little girl in the back seat anymore. Being a parent is tough sometimes, but I guess we have to let them go to be what they are destined to be.  Now, I suppose, Van the Man might not be quite as sentimental about this experience as I seem to be. He probably isn’t really conscious of some knucklehead and his family in Southern California who love his 40 year old song. He may not care, but he might be surprised that what he “said” with this song is still sticking with people so many years later.
Lee Ranaldo   -   I went through a crazy period of listening to all of Van Morrison’s records.  I knew a couple of his records really well, but there were a lot of them I didn’t know. That’s kind of the beauty of music and art. There’s something to be said for discovering something in its time, but there’s also always the possibility of discovering something years after it was made and finding a way to tap into it. 

irons1965   -   I haven't played Common One for a while either. I think I shall go and get the CD out of the box this moment and rip a copy to my Squeezebox Touch.  I too bought Common One in the early 80's (on cassette) shortly after buying Inarticulate Speech... on release. I remember hearing ....John Donne on Kid Jensen's show and becoming smitten with Van Morrison thereafter. 

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