Monday, 1 May 2017

Van Morrison Tropes: Part 2

Here's part 2 of the last post.  Tropes are figures of speech so commonly used that they can be thought of as a ." Apparently, a trope is a storytelling device or convention, a shortcut for describing situations the storyteller can reasonably assume the audience will recognise. Tropes are more about conveying a concept to the audience without needing to spell out all the details. More tropey stuff can be found at the TV Tropes site

Below are some more examples of tropes in Van's canon:

Neoclassical Punk Zydeco Rockabilly: Uses elements of R&B, Blues, Rock, Jazz, Folk, and Classical all on the same album. Summertime In England squeezes almost all of those into a single (15 minute) song! 

New Sound Album: Too Long In Exile was this after the increasingly esoteric and meditative 80s albums. As the title suggests, Too Long In Exile marked the first in a series of albums taking Van back to his rhythm'n'blues roots.

Not Christian Rock: Has done many songs with spiritual themes, and the Into The Music album was widely viewed as a sign that he'd embraced Christianity. But his personal religious sentiments are actually really hard to pin down. His mother was a Jehovah's Witness and his song Kingdom Hall reflects that connection in his youth. As an adult he got involved in various New Age pursuits, and also had a very brief flirtation with the Church of Happyology, but also referred to himself in an interview as a Christian mystic.

Odd Friendship: Q magazine asked lunatic comedian Spike Milligan to interview Morrison, and had a tape recorder running in the room to see what happened. The two hit it off so well that Q ended up publishing one of the best, longest, and most detailed interviews with Van Morrison, ever achieved anywhere. Milligan and Morrison remained friends.

Ode To Youth: These are the Days

OirelandHis collaboration with trad music veterans The Chieftains, versions of Irish traditional songs performed on native instruments with Morrison performing vocals. Also the track Streets of Arklow, on the Veedon Fleece album. He also namechecks places from his native Belfast throughout the Astral Weeks album. The jolly (for Morrison) song Cleanin' Windows is all about those carefree teenage days working as a window cleaner in East Belfast.

One Man Song: Jackie Wilson Said.

Performance Anxiety: He is known to suffer from this - he stopped performing for a few years shortly after the recording of It's Too Late to Stop Now.

Rearrange the Song: He's made a habit of resurrecting songs that were recorded but rejected from earlier albums (in a few cases, as much as a decade or more afterwards) and recording new versions that finally get released. The new versions get rearranged drastically.

Scatting: Often employs this, most notably on the intro to Jackie Wilson Said.

Shout-Out: He mentions lots of singers or other musicians in his lyrics: Ray Charles, Frank Sinatra, Hank Williams, Jackie Wilson, Sam Cooke, Mahalia Jackson, Huddie (Lead Belly) Ledbetter, Jelly Roll Morton, and on and on.

The Something Song: Autumn Song, but it does get a Title Drop in the lyrics.

Spoken Word in MusicRave On, John DonneAnd especially the A Sense of Wonder album. This is as near as he gets to rap; the title track incorporates lyrical nostalgia for a Belfast upbringing, and a later track involves Morrison reciting a William Blake poem set to his own music.

Sudden Downer Ending: Slim Slow Slider on Astral Weeks.

Take That!: Many, over the years, mostly to unnamed people in the music business, or the industry itself. Perhaps the most notable is the suite of 36 songs he recorded to fulfil his contractual obligation to Bang - they have nonsense lyrics and titles like Ring Worm, Blowin' Your Nose, Nose In Your Blow and Here Comes Dumb George. They have been released multiple times anyway, and Morrison gets little or no royalty fees for them.

Textless Album CoverHis Band and the Street Choir, in its original release.

This Is a SongWavelength opens with the line "This is a song about your wavelength and my wavelength".

Transatlantic Equivalent: In this case, Trans-Irish Sea Equivalent. His first band, Them, were billed as "Ireland's answer to The Rolling Stones". However, the legendarily introverted and retiring Morrison was no Mick Jagger.

Weather DissonanceSnow in San Anselmo, about a freak snowstorm in Marin County, California, where Morrison was living at the time.

You Can Leave Your Hat On: A crowd-pleaser in live gigs is Morrison's version of an old blues number by Sonny Boy Williamson, You Gotta Help Me. Morrison's lyrics expand on the idea that the lady to whom the song is addressed can help him by taking off her clothes.

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