Sunday, 24 March 2019

Funny Things People Say - Part 28

Willieluncheonette   -   When Morrison sings "live on in the future" in the John Lee Hooker song Don’t Look Back it is meaningless. Better would have been " live on in the PRESENT"  Then it would have hit the bull's-eye.

Colindrennanbrown   - are Northern Ireland’s only legend!

culabula   -   Van Morrison quit smoking to protect his voice.

The Choke   -   Van Morrison is the worst salesman on the business right now. He has no style or panache. He can't keep the action going to save himself. I haven't seen a movement in nair on many a year. And that isn't just locale buzz. This is juicy as far as it extends both crisis East and West to an open border. Crunch time my fiends.

Maggie McQuaid   -   Easy listening, as in those mellow FM radio stations? I think most of Van’s songs would qualify, though most people who listen to that genre wouldn’t get his spoken-word pieces or his more jazz-infused stuff.

Edward   -   Tupelo Honey is a primer in the use of simile and metaphor. In addition, it is constructed in the present tense. And the bonus is that by listening to this man sing about a particular woman, we can extrapolate that experience into our own. The song becomes an ode to someone I love as well, but it doesn't stop there. It is any person, and all people. The appreciation of the song requires that we accept that there is no other way to receive this particular emotional information. It is not simply the lyrics.  That is a fertile field for intellectual hobgoblins. Van Morrison's style is confrontational. He is giving you the soul required to decode the miracle of this artwork. He is standing right next to you. Back away from the torture of logical exactitude. The words are not the message, the menu is not the food, the map is not the territory. I am not saying anything that experience will not tell you for yourself. The true part is not Van Morrison or this song, or me listening to it. The true part is that for all the underpinnings we may feel the need to assert, immediate creation is all there is. Art gives us that truth gleefully.

Patrick Hennigan   -   I would typify Van Morrison and Leonard Cohen music as thoughtful, often soulful, adult-oriented pop.

Joe Smith   -   He was a hateful little guy, His live performance? He may as well have been in Philadelphia. There’s no action from him. But his voice! I still think he’s the best rock ’n’ roll voice out there.

Peter Viney   -   Of course I’d seen Van on Top of The Pops. He was the long haired guy with the crap backing group who did Baby Please Don’t Go in the mid sixties, and … what was it … not a classic blues this one, ah yes … Here Comes The Night. Then I lost touch with Van’s music until a few years later in 1970.

Robert Baugher   -   This is a lot of fun. I'm listening in a whole different way now. Seeking out 30 second clips that stand on their own and are uniquely "Van". I've already made a dozen more ringtones. LOL.

John Byrne   -   The release this week of a new (and tremendous) Van Morrison album Born to Sing: No Plan B, serves as a good reminder that there is no Plan B to working together to combat illicit funds movement.

bettsaj   -   Maybe I should give Astral Weeks a go. I can't stand Brown Eyed Girl.

Mwidunn   -    As usual Catholics have little or no familiarity with the great variety of music in Contemporary Christian Music, which has been around since the 1970's. Van Morrison . . . who?

Ardenlinden   -    I even put his 1979 Into the music and his 1980 Common One up there right underneath Astral Weeks and Veedon Fleece (well, on the 1980 one just a few songs: Summertime in England, Satisfied, Spirit and those three amazing songs are all just 2 chord "1-4" vamps! The first of them at least switches from 4/4 to 3/4 time signatures to add variety.  But since 1980 it’s mostly "high quality dross". Yet much of his 60s and 70s work is so good that (sadly) I’ll keep following him to the end. 

Monday, 18 March 2019

True Meanings of Song Lyrics

About Nothing Actually

Here's a short humorous post from the Atlantic website by journalist Jeffrey Goldberg:

Jeffrey Goldberg is a national correspondent for The Atlantic and a recipient of the National Magazine Award for Reporting. Author of the book Prisoners: A Story of Friendship and Terror, Goldberg also writes the magazine's advice column.

Deciphering the True Meanings of Song Lyrics

By Jeffrey Goldberg

In my Atlantic advice column, What's Your Problem?, I grapple with one of the more important issues facing humankind. Here is the letter that prompted the discussion:
Do you remember the scene in Meet the Parents in which Ben Stiller shocks Robert De Niro by telling him that Puff, the Magic Dragon is really about marijuana? Well, I'm that Robert De Niro character. For some reason, I don't get the hidden references of important songs. For instance, I was shocked to learn that the Rolling Stones' Start Me Up is about a vibrator. Could you tell me what else I'm missing in famous pop and rock songs?

B.F., Philadelphia, Pa.
Goldberg's Reply:

Dear B.F.,

You are missing quite a bit. While the lyrics of many songs are fairly straightforward the AC/DC canon contains little in the way of ambiguity or poetic complexity, and 2Live Crew's Me So Horny is about a man who is, in fact, very horny. I myself am continually surprised to learn the hidden meanings embedded in other works. For instance: Bob Dylan's Tambourine Man is actually a Minnesota Vikings fight song. Heart of Gold, by Neil Young, is about the boutique allure of midget porn. The entire Justin Bieber oeuvre concerns the secret shame of knowing that he is a terrible musician and, nevertheless, fabulously wealthy. 

Van Morrison's Brown Eyed Girl is about heroin. Pink Floyd's Comfortably Numb is about heroin. The Beatles' Hey Jude is about heroin. Lou Reed's Heroin is about cocaine. Eric Clapton's Cocaine is about the earned-income tax credit. If you play Queen's Bohemian Rhapsody backward, it asks you to subscribe to The Atlantic. The Nirvana song Smells Like Teen Spirit is about carbohydrates (Here we are now/ with potatoes/ with a Mars bar/ and potatoes). Stairway to Heaven is not about anything.

Saturday, 9 March 2019

Van a Mumbler?

Here’s a post from the ASTORIA OREGON RUST blog from 2009.

I’ve been listening to the Van Morrison album, Astral Weeks Live and I remembered what adults were saying about the music we kids listened to back in the 70’s; “How can you listen to that crap? You can’t even understand the lyrics!”

After listening to this new collection for about a half hour I realise there had been maybe four words that I actually understood. Van Morrison has always been a bit of a mumbler, but he has now risen to the point where he is 99.9% mumbler. The occasional understandable word does squeak out, but now I’m not sure if they were actual words, or a mumble that sounded like words.

Lyrics that are misunderstood can be a lot of fun. Remember Creedence Clearwater Revival singing “And there’s the bathroom’s on the right” that was actually supposed to be, “There’s a bad moon on the rise.” Who can forget the Michael Jackson song Billie Jean where Jackson sings, “The chair is not my son.” Does anyone actually know the words to Louie Louie?

Van Morrison could have a treasure trove of misunderstood statements if only he could enunciate a little better.


Loopymama   -   I was in eighth grade when someone gave me a tape of "war" it took me over an hour of replaying the song to get "War!, huh! what is it good for? Absolutely nothin'!" 8 tracks weren't out yet.

Darev2005   -   A few months ago someone sent me a youtube video of Joe Cocker's With a Little Help From My Friends with subtitles of what it sounded like he was saying. It was amazing and funny. Unfortunately, they have pulled the video. I think he was the inspiration behind Nirvana and the whole mumbling thing.

Anonymous   -   And who can finish this lyric - Blinded by the Light, dressed up like a douche??

Miss Kris   -   Van Morrison and I go way back but I have to agree. I guess it's the Celtic Soul in him coming out. There's a scripture that refers to "the groaning of the Spirit", words we can't articulate. Maybe that is Mr. Van's feelings as he sings his music. That said, the one line I never understood and mis-sang forever was "Later on we conspire, As we sit by the fire" in "Winter Wonderland"...I thought for sure it was 'perspire', not 'conspire'. Made sense to me!! And yes...Neil Diamond shows my age but I saw him in concert here in Portland when Play Me was popular - that's not the reason that song means so much to me - and it was, undoubtedly, the best concert I have ever been to. That man can entertain! And he was onstage for what seemed like forever...definitely got our money's worth. We hated to see him stop!

Anonymous   -   Van Morrison is one of the great bards of our time. From his days with Them and the surprise hit Gloria to today... pure genius. The arrangements, the instrumentation, the musicians, it's all killer. I heard a snippet from this new live thing on NPR and boy are you right about the mumbling. I think I'll listen to the original Astral Weeks as a refresher prior to delving into the mystic of the new. They say things too silly to say can be sung.

Saturday, 2 March 2019

Janet Planet: Part 1

One of the most important women in the Van Morrison story is his first wife Janet Rigsbeewho he was to nickname Janet Planet.  Rigsbee was born in Corpus Christi, Texas, and brought up outside San Francisco by a single mother who was an elementary school teacher. By the time Van and Janet met she was making ends meet as an actress in commercials and as a model. She had been divorced once and had a son, Peter. 

In an interview Rigsbee said of that time, I didn’t much enjoy my progress in either area.  I was unhappy modelling – it’s a surefire way to instantly feel insecure.  My real dream was to become a Shakespearean actress – now there’s a real growth industry, right?  I’d done several plays and gotten good reviews, but I was not what you would call ‘fully engaged’ in either acting or modelling.  At that point, in 1966 I chanced to meet and get to know a very young Van Morrison and I suddenly knew with a spellbinding clarity exactly what I wanted to be doing from then on.

Van and Janet met in 1966 in the Bay area shortly before a Them concert which was her first rock concert.  She supposedly ventured down a dark alley in San Leandro and was stopped in her tracks by the sight of the 20 year old performer whose gruff voice she secretly adored. `I looked at him, he looked at me and it was alchemical whammo.' Eventually the Them tour ended and Morrison returned to Britain. 

A few years later they met up again in New York City, and just before fleeing to Boston to escape a few connected heavies, they married in an understated civil ceremony. They married in New York City in 1968, in part to help Morrison avoid deportation. Janet said, Scary men were indeed banging on our door, swearing to Van his career was over. 

The couple moved to an apartment in a dishevelled little building on Green Street in Cambridge. The couple was broke, desperate, and hunted. But it was there, sitting at their tiny kitchen table, strumming an acoustic guitar, that Morrison wrote much of Astral Weeks.

Janet kept track of Morrison’s songs and lyrics for him, listened to the demos, and helped him revise. Van liked to work in a sort of stream-of-consciousness way back then letting the tape recorder continue to run while he just sort of played guitar and improvised, trying various things for 20 minutes or so at a time, she explained. 

Van and Janet then moved to Woodstock and lived in a sprawling mountaintop house.  Janet claims they moved to Woodstock largely to be in the vicinity of Bob Dylan, who was living there at the time.

Janet said, Van fully intended to become Dylan's best friend, but the whole time we were there they never met.he winced at the memory. Every time we'd drive past Dylan's house - Van didn't drive, I did - Van would just stare wistfully out the window at the gravel road leading to Dylan's place. He thought Dylan was the only contemporary worthy of his attention. But back then, Bob just wasn't interested in him.

Shana Morrison was born in Woodstock on April 7, 1970. The snow was three feet thick on the ground in when she was born. Janet said the responsibilities of caring for a new baby led her to beg off an impending concert tour but Morrison refused to go without her, and his managers pleaded with her that there was too much at stake to cancel. So, with her week-old daughter in her arms, she reluctantly joined the three-week roadshow.

Eventually, Woodstock became a crowded destination point for fans and fanatics of every stripe who arrived by the busload each day in hopes of catching a glimpse of Dylan, Morrison or other musicians living there, such as The Band. Morrison and family pulled up stakes and moved to Marin County in California in 1971.

Janet spent the next three years working, writing and singing with Van, forming and performing in his back-up group The Street Choir although her contribution to Van's career may be debatable. Their relationship was seen by many as an idyllic situation. The beautiful Janet was seen as Van's muse inspiring him to produce some of the best albums and songs of his career.  During her their relationship he produced Astral WeeksMoondance, His Band & the Street Choir and Tupelo Honey. She also seemed the inspiration behind songs like Ballerina, Beside You, Crazy Love, You're My Woman and The Way Young Lovers Do

Despite Van's lyrical love for his wife, the marriage was not without its difficulties.  (Like us all, I suppose.) Truth is, she says, their marriage was an emotional roller coaster, largely cut off from the rest of the world. Van wasn't too interested in socializing and basically spent his time working on his music. Janet began to resent the lack of social contact. 

I would have done anything for the man who wrote those songs, who whispered in the night that they were true,' she said. I wanted more than anything to make him happy. But I just couldn't do it. Our life together became very traumatic and horrible. I couldn't stand any more of his rage as my daily reality. I worried about its impact on the children.

Janet freely admits she was not exactly a model of domesticity herself. Her memories are spiked with what she now calls silly flower-child storiesThere also occurred the famous incident in 1971 when she ordered her husband to pack their worldly belongings into the back of their beat-up car and prepare to leave. 

Van Morrison was perplexed, but he was soon shuttling all he could carry into the four-door Audi. The reason for this state of panic was that their babysitter had gone to a fortune teller who had a vision that astronauts had seen a piece of California break off into the ocean. The story was further accentuated when Janet had a dream that the Big One hit and their house in Marin County slid down a hill. In any event, Van, Janet and their baby daughter Shana all drove due east as far as Albuquerque where they remained until, Janet told the LA Times in 1998, some astronauts circling the Earth at the time landed.

In 1973 the marriage collapsed and Janet fled their Marin County home in a desperate gesture of independence. She loaded a few possessions into a Mercedes that was the first harvest of Morrison's success and drove off with

When I left, everybody got real mad at me because I had become an important cog in a music industry machine that was starting to make so much money. On the other hand, I just had to find peace and my own voice.