Friday, 7 October 2016

Keep Me Singing – 21 Facts

1. Keep Me Singing (2016) is Van’s first album of new material in four years.
    2. This is the first time a professional lyricist has been used by Van.  Don Black wrote the lyrics for Track 2 Every Time I See a River
    3. Some have commented on the use of four drummers – Liam Bradley, Robbie Ruggiero, Paul Robinson and Van Morrison
    4. Track 11 Going Down to Bangor contains lots of Bangor references.  There’s Napoleon’s Nose (a feature on Cavehill), Cavehill, Pickie Pool, a charabanc, mountains of the Mourne and Donaghadee.
5. In Going Down to Bangor he also mentions “cousin Billie” but I can’t find out who that might be.  Only child Van had a few cousins, one of whom apparently inspired Gloria.  Also there’s a group called “Cousins of Van Morrison”. 
    6. This is the second album he has used trombone on.  The first was his last studio album Born to Sing.  This time trombone is played by Laurence Cottle on several songs. 
    7. As with Going Down to Bangor, Track 9 In Tiburon namechecks a lot of local colour.  Tiburon is a town near San Francisco, in Marin County where Van lived after his move from Woodstock in the late 1960s. He mentions Chet Baker, Ferlinghetti, Ginsberg, Neal Cassady (from On the Road), Cast Your Fate To The Wind by Vince Guaraldi, ‘looking out on the Golden Gate’, the No-Name Bar, etc.
8. Chet Baker playing at The Trident is also mentioned.  Pat Corley, author of Vanatic, mentions that it was outside the Trident that Chet Baker while trying to score some heroin got beaten up so badly that all his teeth got knocked out which ruined his embouchure so he couldn’t play his horn for a long while till he got his mouth sorted out. 
    9. In Tiburon also includes the Irish slang word “culchies” which means “unsophisticated country person”. 
10. The quality of Van’s voice on this album is amazing.  Compare his voice to other performers of his era who are still going and it really is a modern wonder.  People have belittled Van for his strict time-keeping at concerts but it looks like vocal longevity might be the payoff. 
  11. On Track 7 Holy Guardian Angel, Van samples an old African American spiritual for the lyrics Nobody knows the trouble I’ve seen, nobody knows my sorrow
  12. Van performs one cover on the album.  This is the Track 8 Share Your Love With Me written by Alfred Braggs & Don Robey. Van originally recorded it for a Bobby Bland tribute album which never happened.  Van’s admiration of Bobby Bland goes back a long way with his band Them recording Turn On Your Love Light and Van’s live version of Ain’t Nothing You Can Do.  Van’s version here is a little bit countrified.

13. In the song Holy Guardian Angel Van sings ‘I was born in the midnight, long before the break of day’.  Van was born at 11:59 on August 31, 1945. 
  14. Lyrically there are few silly things here as on many Van albums.  Lines like “whoops I beg your pardon”, “bring me my bucket and spade” and “I was Mr Nice Guy too long” stand out.  
  15. Pat Corley noticed a typo error in the lyrics booklet for In Tiburon.  It mentions the ‘Hungry Eye’ club but it should have read ‘The Hungry i” with a small letter “i”.  There has plenty of debate about what the letter “I” stood for, some claiming “id” and others ‘intellectual’ (but they couldn’t afford the paint to finish the sign).
16. On Track 11 Going Down to Bangor Van includes the lyric line “just six miles from Donaghadee”. Oddly on the last studio album (Born to Sing, 2012) Van has a song Goin' down Monte Carlo which includes the lyric line "Goin' down to Monte Carlo about 25k from Nice". Distances matter, apparently. 

   17. Track 9 In Tiburon (Spanish for shark) also mentions the City Lights Bookstore.  City Lights published the American edition of Van’s book of lyrics Lit Up Inside.
18. Keep Me Singing contains one instrumental.  Track 13 Caledonia Swing lists Tony Fitzgibbon on ‘fiddle’.  “Caledonia” is the Roman name for Scotland and is daughter Shana Morrison’s middle name. 
   19. The title track Keep Me Singing seems to reference a few Sam Cooke songs with lyrics like “my change to come” and “Let the good times roll”.  Sam Cooke is directly mentioned continuing Van’s long tradition of name-checking key people from the arts who have influenced him. 
20. One lyric oddity appears on Track 5 Memory Lane.  Van claims "it's coming onto winter, nights keep getting shorter and shorter".  Reminds me of the many science errors in the Koran.  Nights usually get longer in winter, but apparently not on Planet Van.   

   21. Track 10 is Look Beyond The Hill.  It was originally an instrumental called Yo and was a B-Side to one of Van's singles but he has revisited it and added lyrics just like he did on his last studio album with Close Enough for Jazz. 

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