Friday, 7 April 2017

Van Morrison's Best 10 Songs?

Here’s the sort of article I really hate.  Granted Sam McPherson is just doing his job as a journalist who has to produce articles.  But you find his choices are so much the expected norm of basically the catchiest or the most familiar songs.  You get the feeling the producer of the list hasn’t listened to the dreaded “album tracks”.  

K Pop's Brown Eyed Girls
Is this where we’re going in modern music listenership? The era of downloads is re-focusing people on the “single” like in the bad old days before FM radio and artists’ commitment to making albums works of art. Once you start considering what was left off this list you realise that a lot of Van treasures are just unknown in the general community.  Where’s Justin? Where’s Madame George or Summertime in England? In the GardenBehind the Ritual? Etc. Anyway, here’s Sam’s 2014 opinions from the AXS website.   

The 10 Best Van Morrison Songs

10.  Did Ye Get Healed?   -   This 1987 song is best known for its catchy sax introduction and its smooth melodies that take a listener somewhere else other than where they are at the moment—and of course, the female backup singer's concluding lyrical question at the end.

9.  Sweet Thing   -   From Morrison's seminal 1968 solo album Astral Weeks - the effort that firmly put his solo career on the music map - this song exudes hopefulness looking forward, with a unique blend of wishful thinking and whimsical romanticism. It may be the defining song of the album itself, even though there is another song on this list from the record.

8.  Crazy Love   -   Softly sung, this 1970 ballad from the Moondance album has a sweet resonance, soft and repetitious. The backup vocals accentuate the lyrical content as well. Perhaps you remember British crooner Bryan Ferry covering it for the She's Having a Baby soundtrack in the mid-1980s.

7.  The Way Young Lovers Do   -   Also part on Astral Weeks, this amazingly perky song really captures a feeling we all want to keep forever. A listener can close their eyes and go back to that first kiss of youth and re-live it again—and again. Sharing it with a current loved one certainly can rekindle some passion, as well (try it). A notable cover by the late Jeff Buckley is quite popular as well.

6.  Domino   -   Written about Fats Domino, this 1970 song from Morrison's fourth album, His Band and the Street Choir, is valued for happy beats and jazzy overtones. Its snappy rhythms and lyrics have even been used to bring the modern-day single woman out of romantic funks ("And if you never hear from him, that just means he didn't call"). True story.

5.  Into the Mystic   -   Perhaps one of the most frequently heard Van Morrison songs, this is another track off Moondance. Its popularity stems from the feeling of universality expressed in the lyrics, that we are all one with the world and ourselves—at the same time. Into the Mystic has been used in a lot of movies over the decades: 1989's Dream a Little Dream, 1998's Patch Adams and 2003's American Wedding.

4.  Have I Told You Lately   -   This is a later song for Morrison, from 1989's Avalon Sunset. It defines his longtime romanticism, with the title and lyrics asking an age-old question often put forth by a thankful partner. Its beautiful melodies really can bring tears to your eyes when you listen to it in a certain mood. Rod Stewart covered the song with great success in the 1990s.

3.  Moondance   -   The title track from Morrison's third solo album probably is the first song of his you ever heard, a long time ago. The track blends styles and rhythms so effectively, making tough to define it. You can dance to it, for sure, but there are other things many listeners often do to its melodies. We might be able to blame the 1981 film An American Werewolf in London for that.

2.  Gloria   -   Reported written when Morrison was just 18 years old, this song from his Them days is still his signature song in many ways. Listen to the lyrics, and like many of these songs, they will take you back to your youth and the crazy machinations of love, romance and sex. The chorus also is one of the more memorable ones in rock 'n' roll history (move over, Lola). So, it's not from his solo career, but he plays it still to this day in concert. Why not? Everyone loves it.

1.  Brown-Eyed Girl   -   How could this not be at the top of the list, especially when it applies to so many women in the world? Every young woman with brown eyes learns this song, since those with blue eyes always seem to get more attention from the boys. And if you're dating a brown-eyed girl at any point in your life, you know the lyrics by heart, too. It's hard to listen to this song and not smile broadly. It is timeless, truly, even if a bit silly at times. Just dance with it, and don't think about it too much.

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