May 4, 2017

"And thats why i post infrequently. Unless it is about Van Morrison."

Wrote D in the comments to the post about Stephen Colbert's lame effort to back out of his "cock holster" remark. D says:
I visit this blog everyday for the reasons espoused by many others already re: how the hostess find/pulls alot of interesting takes on the day's news articles. You can then find interesting tangents / new knowledge / stuff added by the many many commentators. Many with varied skills and knowledge bases whatever their political leans. Today, one of the posts has to do with a crazy scottish surfer. Comments then pulled towards using drones in search and rescue to reduce costs. And latest on towing insurance etc Ok that isnt everyones cup of tea, but that post will (i estimate) get 1/8 of this post And this post is about some guy and another guy who get paid lots o money to act in front of cameras, and they are riffing off what one guy said, a few nights ago, to show he's edgy. They are not capable of running search amd rescue operations. If people stop paying attention - including the # of comments on a top blog - hmm maybe the edgy guy becomes less important in the grand scheme of things. Might not get gigs in front of congress The posts today - the congress vote, the surfer, the army photographer, and the immigration post esp. - those posts deserve more comments than this fluff. IMHO. And thats why i post infrequently. Unless it is about Van Morrison.
Have I blogged about Van Morrison?! I guess I have. There was the time, back in December 2008, when I took some photographs in the snowy, foggy cemetery...

Winter cemetery

...  and the car radio just happened to be playing Van Morrison rendition of the old song "That's Life." (And the time I referred back to that old post.) And I've talked about the recording "Gloria" a few times:

1.  Way back in March 2004, before the posts had titles:
Drop City ... Gloria. I drove in to work this morning listening to an NPR interview with T.C. Boyle, who talked about being really a rock star at heart, forced to be a writer for lack of musical talent. (Hey, that's the way I feel about being a law professor! At least there's a live audience.)
[I]n Drop City, the Van Morrison song "Mystic Eyes" is used to underscore the novel's central conflict between a hippie commune in Alaska and the locals they incense.
I'm going to read that. Me, I liked the early Van Morrison, before his name was known, and he was just Them. I bought the first Them single when it came out ("Here Comes the Night"). It wasn't quite the sort of thing I liked at the time, but it was close enough, and it was clearly good. "Gloria" was even better.

So let me say something about "Gloria," which relates to the single best moment of musical performance I ever witnessed live....
2. "Another Unplayable 45, this time: vlogged!" (September 2006):
Oh, my friends, are you in for a treat. Today's Unplayable 45 is vlogged.

Unplayable 45

And what a very vloggy vlog it is:



Some links to help you with that vlog. Here are the lyrics to "Here Comes the Night." And here are the lyrics to "Brown Eyed Girl," the song that came on the 60s channel as I emerged from the parking garage this evening and made contact once again with the satellite. Here's the episode of BloggingHeads.tv with David Corn and Byron York arguing about "Hubris" that somehow has something to do with this. And here you can find and explanation of what "snowball sampling" is. Hey, it all fits together in the vlog.

Anyway, back to the 45. Since I can't play it, I wanted to buy it on iTunes to relive the experience of listening to it, but all they had was a karaoke version of the Them recording. That was disappointing but enough to make me remember why I liked this enough to buy it. The guitar hook is quite profound. But I remember regretting spending my money on this, because I didn't like the sound of Van Morrison's voice. I never learned to like it later. I don't doubt that he's an excellent singer. There's just a tone to it that I find unappealing.

And I especially didn't like it back when I was a teenager. He sounded too much like an adult, like those soul singers with their heavy voices who were always singing about way too serious adult relationships. The ultimate example of a song of that kind for me was Percy Sledge singing "When a Man Loves a Woman." I could tell it was good, but I could not identify with what was going on there, with people deeply emotionally distraught about love problems. The adult quality was -- judged by the hippie ethic of my generation -- square. Love, love, love -- it should bring joy and universal good will -- none of this grasping and suffering.
3. "The 50 greatest conservative rock songs" (May 2006):
John J. Miller at the National Review has a list. I was surprised to see "Gloria" at number six, and I was starting to think over the lyrics and come up with a theory. Like to tell ya about my baby/You know she comes around/She about five feet four/A-from her head to the ground... Nothing was clicking. Is it the interest in correct spelling? G-L-O-R-I-A. Then I saw it was "Gloria" by U2, a completely different composition. Gloria...in te domine/Gloria...exultate/Oh Lord, if I had anything/Anything at all/I'd give it to you... Quite different. In Van Morrison's song, Gloria was giving it all to him.
Oh! That's such a deep dive into the archive (and into my past from the days before there even was an archive). 

37 comments:

Earnest Prole said...

I was just thinking you should blog about Van Morrison more often.

Mike Sylwester said...

I love Van Morrison's music, but when I attended one of his concerts he barely acknowledged his audience. He was aloof to the point of rudeness. I felt very dissatisfied at the end of the concert.

Mike Sylwester said...

Ann, you sure wrote a long post just to get life-long Van Morrison fan "D" to comment more.

Ann Althouse said...

I had a tag for "d (the commenter)" but I didn't assume it was the same person as "D (the commenter)," so I made new tag.

YoungHegelian said...

@Mike S,

I love Van Morrison's music, but when I attended one of his concerts he barely acknowledged his audience. He was aloof to the point of rudeness. I felt very dissatisfied at the end of the concert.

Why that's audience "smother-love" compared to what I saw at a concert with the French harpsichordist Pierre Hantai. He said that unless the lights were darkened to the point where he couldn't see the audience & he was given a light by the harpsichord to see his music, he wouldn't play the concert.

And, yes, this was last minute, & yes, I got this information direct from the concert series' artistic director.

Bay Area Guy said...

Althouse is our "Brown-eyed Girl"

FullMoon said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Comanche Voter said...

Van Morrison and his recording of Carrickfergus always got my motor going--as did his Raglan Road. Now I think Carrickfergus may be as traditional tune; and the lyrics to Raglan Road came from a poem written by an Irish "working man's poet" in the late 1930s. But both are powerful performances and powerful songs.

D said...

I didnt think the decision of using "D" through - and realized later there were other people who might use the same. I think I'm the only uppercase. Maybe i should heed Mike's warning, and stay silent, but i should clarify that the van morrison line was me realizing ( after the fact) that my little preach wasnt fair. Cultural things are important and im sure fans of late night tv dont need me suggesting it is extremely trite stuff when i am well aware of how music can be important to some people but not others. Still: i think the preach stands. Your other posts today were far more interesting. The immigration one had various avenues of thought/historical interest. Colbert as a subject seems ..hopeless.
I have no comment on van morrison. Nor a comparison of street legal to into the music.

JLScott said...

Magical thinking. Whether the commenter or anyone else chooses to comment on a post here will have no effect whatsoever on the subject of the post. It's silly to abstain from commenting for the greater good and even sillier to brag about doing so.

Silliest of all is the idea that fewer people comment on search and rescue because they think the practice of search and rescue is less important than the things they do comment on.

Limited blogger said...

Thanks for the gentle push to listen to some Van Morrison.

Mid-Life Lawyer said...

If you are under 55, you might have actually considered Into The Mystic as a funeral song, if you ever contemplated such things. (I went through a period where I picked my three funeral songs every once and awhile for fun) Into the Mystic is a good song for your funeral when you aren't real worried about dying yet. When it gets a little more real, I don't think it works so well anymore.

Quaestor said...

I had a tag for "d (the commenter)" but I didn't assume it was the same person as "D (the commenter)," so I made new tag.

Maybe D (the commenter) considers himself all grown up now.

vanderleun said...

It's important track Van Morrison.

The Great Souls of Our Time: Van Morrison

http://americandigest.org/mt-archives/grace_notes/the_great_souls.php

"The origin of "T. B. Sheets" is, figuratively and literally, in nightmare.

His mother, Violet Morrison said that the song originally had emerged from a nightmare her son had and that he had felt it so strongly that he couldn't tell it to her but sang it instead with verses lasting for an hour.
An hour? The song on the album runs nearly 10 minutes, twice the length of any of the others, and an eternity for a pop album of the mid-60s. But an hour? Just to stay in that mental space for 10 minutes is enough for most people. (The song did not chart.) But an hour is inconceivable.
Still, I'd like to hear it. It's a song that first insinuates itself deep into your lungs and then crawls down your bones:

So open up the window and let me breathe,
I said, open up the window and let me breathe
I'm looking down to the street below
Lord, I cried for you, Oh, Lord.

The cool room, Lord, is a fool's room,
The cool room, Lord, is a fool's room,
And I can almost smell your T.B. sheets
And I can almost smell your T.B. sheets, on your sick bed.

I gotta go, l gotta,
And you said, please stay.
I want, I want a drink of water,
I want a drink of water,
I went to the kitchen to get me a drink of water,

I gotta go baby.
I send, I send, I send somebody around here later,
You know we got John comin' around
Later with a bottle of wine for you, babe."

IgnatzEsq said...

I agree with the need for more Van Morrison blogging. A good potential post, Van's inability to pronounce the word 'Electric' in The Last Waltz.

@Mid-Life Lawyer - I've not heard or thought of "Into the Mystic" for funerals, but have seen it used in weddings. It's used as the first dance in the sappy wedding scene of the mediocre comedy American Wedding. The song is the best part of the movie actually.

Quaestor said...

The guitar hook is quite profound. But I remember regretting spending my money on this, because I didn't like the sound of Van Morrison's voice. I never learned to like it later. I don't doubt that he's an excellent singer. There's just a tone to it that I find unappealing.

That's natural. The Northern Irish have the most impenetrable accent in the whole of the British Isles, and that includes the Dales. It's atrocious. Northern Ireland is notorious for the Troubles, as we know. The Catholics and the Protestants don't understand each other, says the serious toned young man with a microphone held under his chiseled chin. That's bloody nonsense. Ulstermen don't understand anybody, including themselves. They all talk that way. When the Derry wife asks the Derry husband what he wants for breakfast, she's likely to spend the next hour wondering how to pan fry an anvil. Their mumbled gibberish is probably why the DeLorean was such an abortion, kinda like the Tower of Babel. Ulstermen do okay with ships, however. The din of a working shipyard is so overwhelming that talking is pointless, which works the Ulsterman's advantage.

An Ulsterman is what you get if a Dubliner and a Glaswegian are passed through a Cuisinart. The Dublin speech is lilting and rhythmic, but Glaswegian is hardly melodious. Some Scots dialects are pleasant enough, but Glaswegian... Put it this way: Scots is to Glaswegian as a Cremona violin is to a musical saw.

Malesch Morocco said...

That may have been the best video you have ever done. The warmth is overwhelming. And your hair looks great. I'd be happy to burn you "Here comes the Night". And Parrot Records had some great music in its day.

Lem said...

I remember those photos. There are more cemetery pics.

Unknown said...

I've always heard that Morrison still has stage fright after all these years and he's only effusive when well lubricated, which can put a show on one side or the other of falling apart or being classic.

I've seen him three times. Once in LA on his ill-considered tour with Linda Gail Lewis. I don't know how he could have thought that album was a good idea.. And twice in Atlanta both of which times were great, though he did not interact either time.

As far as concert quirks: A) For some reason he's rarely able to pull off "Moondance" live and B) he tends to us the lyric "made of rattleskin hide" instead of "made of rattlesnake hide" when he's doing "Who Do You Love?"

And speaking of concerts, his shows are widely torrented and bootlegged, and many of them sound better than commercial live recordings by other artists. (Buy all his legit stuff first though because he hate, hates, hates bootleggers)

chickelit said...

My favorite Van Morrison song is a Dylan cover. Beck sampled it in the '90's. Had the the makers of "Breaking Bad" just used this song in the finale, 50 years would have threaded so nicely.

Unknown said...

He also likes to do "Just Like A Woman"

eddie willers said...

Oh Ann.....Moondance is a Desert Island Disc!

WiseAssLatino said...

Van Morrison is my favorite artist. There are maybe a dozen songs that can make me cry. "Crazy" by Patsy Cline and 'Why" by Annie Lennox to name two. Six are by Van Morrison.

BudBrown said...
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JZ said...

Anybody know what "Blue Money" is about? It's from V. M.'s album "His Band and the Street Choir" ("We'll go out and spend all of your blue money.")

Mid-Life Lawyer said...

@IgnatzEsq - It was also used in the movie Immediate Family (1989 - I didn't remember the name of the movie, had to google), both in the trailer and then there is a scene where Mary Stuart Masterson and Glenn Close, a pregnant young mother and the older woman who is adopting her unborn child, are singing along to it and bonding. It makes a good funeral song for me because we sail into the mystic when we are born and we continue sailing into the foggy mystic when we die. Dust to Dust, that kind of thing. Works for both weddings and funerals. In weddings the focus can be to the couple being eternally linked, possibly since the beginning of time but now definitely forever, and at a funeral it reassures that link with the hope that you will soon be sailing together for eternity.

Patrick Wahl said...

An all time great one. John Lee Hooker and Van Morrison.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NTiFinpXRcg

Ipso Fatso said...
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Charlie said...

This is a wonderful show from 1979, maybe his best tour ever.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j-BGlIZJetQ

jr565 said...

Van Morrison is great....up till a certain point in his career. And then I find his music boring and pedestrian. I think the album for me was Veedon fleece. I don't like a single song on it. And afterwards it's just boring song after boring song. With an occasional interesting song thrown in the mix - the song real real gone is one such exception. Plus his singing got worse.
But I think astral weeks and moondance are among the best albums of the 60's/early seventies. In fact, moondance reminds me a bit of William Blake's songs of innocence in terms of tone. I don't think he ever made an album thst would be comparable to songs of experience. So it's not a perfect match. After those two albums he had a bunch of more pedestrian albums that are still really good in that acousticy/blues derived folk rock format that we heard a lot of in the 70's.

I notice I have this same feeling with every musician. I like them up to a point, and then they stop producing stuff I can tolerate. The Beatles may be the only that never wore out it's welcome. Though let it be as an album came close, and certainly as a solo artists I had less patience for all of their music.

jr565 said...

"Anybody know what "Blue Money" is about? It's from V. M.'s album "His Band and the Street Choir" ("We'll go out and spend all of your blue money.")"
I may be wrong about this, but I think he's talking about filming a porno. Or music business, which is essentially people selling themselves for a quick buck and like porn industry. And blue money means Ill gotten money or money gained without accountability.. Or money received "out of the blue". He later says "breau money" which is bureau money or money you get while unemployed. (To be unemployed is to be "on the breau". He then says loose money, juice money which again is money gained through gambling.
So. I guess that's his view of the music business. It's a place where people get exploited and then then spend their quick buck before going out on the dole again.

jr565 said...


(Cont) of course, it could actually be about porn and not the music business at all since, a lot of the lines refer to her and not to him. "Fake five, honey" clearly that's a movie scene. And "do your best, your very best" sounds like something a director would tell an actress especially if they were about to do a scene that they didn't really look forward to doing. And when it's all over she'll be in clover (meaning flush with cash) and then they'll go out and spend HER blue money. If it was about him, then it would be his money. Finally, blue movies suggests "porn movies" so, blue money naturally can refer to money you'd get doing blue movies. That's my impression at any rate. It's a lot more exploitative and negative as a song, then the sunny music would suggest.

Bad Lieutenant said...

Maybe back then Canadian (e.g.) money was blue and they were coming back from a trip across the border? Or something like that.

Unknown said...

Van got it taken down but there used to be a fan site with extensive discussion of his lyrics, his albums, his obsessions and his bootlegs. As I say, he got it taken down, but you can see it on the wayback machine here.

I don't see anything about "Blue Money" except for the lyrics, which do suggest a porn shoot, but it could well be about the music business. As someone once said (approx) "Van is still obsessed with a bad contract he signed 40 years ago".

As for a drop-off, I think the last great Van album is "Back On Top". After that it's been very spotty.

Gizmo said...

The Godfather of (Northern Irish) Soul -- it's 'lectric...

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=44wDwMQVqCc

Unknown said...

"Fair Play," Side One Track One on Veedon Fleece, is one of my top ten favorite Van Morrison tracks.

https://youtu.be/Z1vYs5LBC3c

JZ said...

jr565 -- You dove into the Blue Money lyrics the way I did with a friend in 1972. "The photographer smiles. Take a break for a while"