Monday, 3 July 2017

Even More Fan Stories

Gmoke   -   Ran into Van Morrison in Harvard Square years ago.  I recognised him and thanked him for his work.  He grunted in response and I started walking off.  Then he asked me where Cardell’s was, a cheap cafeteria from back in the day, and I said, “Oh, dude, that was yuppified a long time ago.”  Legendarily bad tempered person but a fine musician, singer,  and songwriter.

Westyny   -   He also made a lot of his great music in the Bay Area.  I remember seeing him at the Lion’s Share with the Moondance band in San Anselmo when I was 17.  My girlfriend was 16.  So lucky.  I grew up in the foggy side of of San Francisco and Brown Eyed Girl, then Astral Weeks were essential parts of my young adolescent soundtrack.  I remember Greil Marcus once called Astral Weeks the greatest album ever made.  Hard to argue, really. 

Antonio Balson   -   Even if you do not realise it, if you have ever listened to the radio, you have heard Van Morrison. This was my case until one winter afternoon in the early nineties, relaxing on the patio of a slope-side coffee shop in Sugarloaf Maine I realised I was listening to Van Morrison, Moondance, of course. I bought that CD and listened to it endlessly. One summer I was alone in the country house at La Navata it was all I listened to.

Fast forward to the mid-nineties. Right after breaking up with my first wife, I was on a business trip to a convention in Las Vegas. Bored at the thought of spending a whole weekend alone in the city of sin, I called a friend in San Francisco and I was on a plane. The weekend was fantastic as I had not seen my friend in years and had not been to San Francisco in even more years. She had Van’s Wavelength CD in her little BMW, and that was all we listened to all week-end long as we tooled around the city.  As soon as I got back to Madrid I bought that CD and listened to it over and over again. Then I bought another and another until I had the whole Van Morrison discography – over 40 CDs. In fact I listened exclusively to Van Morrison for eight full months straight. I did not realise it at the time, but it was therapeutic for me. One summer morning when I woke up and played a Rolling Stones CD, I knew I was on the mend!

Richard Selinkoff   -   at the Troubadour in West Hollywood in the late 60s and early 70s a number of pop and underground legends dropped in at the bar.  Probably the least convivial was Van Morrison, whom I idolised. Between his stunningly magnificent sets he sat at the bar over what looked like straight whisky, his stay-the-f***-away-from-me body language and facial expression so powerful that it was tangible as well as visual, to the extent that nobody in the crowded room of socialising musicians and music-biz people dared to penetrate that palpable barrier and sit within two barstools of him.

Brian Rouff   -   A few months ago, I read an interview in Time magazine with the Irish rock legend, Van MorrisonToward the end of the interview, the reporter asked, “Do any musicians or groups today excite you?” “No,” Morrison said “Absolutely not. It’s all been done, you know?”

Weeks later, a Time reader wrote to express her disappointment in Morrison, commenting on how jaded he seems. In essence, she said she could never listen to his music in quite the same way again. A couple of problems with that. First, Morrison has always been a bitter man. He’s just gotten worse in his old age. Second, who cares what he thinks? The music is brilliant, his songs have stood the test of time, his voice is as distinctive as they come. He’s also grown as an artist over the years, managing to stay relevant while being true to himself. No sellout, here. For me, he’s an artist who consistently forges an emotional bond.

Paul Pearson   -   Mechanical Bliss was supposed to be Morrison's 1975 follow-up to Veedon Fleece. Reading from a transcript of an interview Van did with San Francisco radio legend Tom Donahue around that time, Mechanical Bliss was mere inches away from being mastered and pressed. To Donahue's disbelief, Morrison gave a release date of February 1975, which was only about five months after the release of Veedon Fleece. The gaps between artists' releases weren't quite as long in the '70s as they are now, but even considering that, five months was a speedy turnaround time. But it got far enough down the pipeline that an album cover was commissioned. Parts of Mechanical Bliss were released on The Philosopher's Stone, but a bunch of it never obtained an official release. The proposed artwork for Mechanical Bliss was recycled and used for Steely Dan's album The Royal Scam.

Since it never existed, we don't really have any insight as to what the lineup for Mechanical Bliss was going to be. But we do have excerpts from the Mechanical Bliss sessions, parts of which are some of the wildest stuff Morrison had recorded as a solo artist. One song was called I'm Not Waiting for You and bears a stunning resemblance to Bachman-Turner Overdrive.  Mechanical Bliss the song, packs in a bunch of oddities, apparently extemporaneous lyrics and vocal decisions, let's call them. It almost sounds like the careless, vengeful songs Van recorded to get out of his Bang Records contract in 1967, but perhaps even more decapitated from reality. It's fascinating.

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