As it happens, today is Van Morrison’s 75th birthday, and that’s certainly a day worth celebrating, with a playlist featuring some of his best work. Morrison has never shied away from controversy, whether it's his dalliance with Scientology in the early 80s or his recent insistence that the music world needs to ignore social distancing guidelines and go on with the business of concerts. I don’t always agree with his point-of-view, but unlike a number of other controversy- courting artists – Ted Nugent, for example, or Kid Rock – you simply can’t deny the depth of his musical genius. Many, many people have covered Morrison. In fact, I can’t think of another
songwriter, other than Lennon and McCartney, who has spawned so many tributes, from artists as diverse as Englebert Humperdink, John Lee Hooker, and Iggy Pop. All that’s leaving aside Kevin Rowland who came close to turning Dexy’s Midnight Runners into a cover band while revealing that there was enough in Morrison’s sound to support two acts. The real hallmark of his musical genius though are the many insightful themes he mines in his work. Songs such as “Into the Mystic” tie into a deep spiritual quest for meaning. Often that quest is tied specifically to an interest in his own childhood and his native Ireland, in songs like “Sweet Thing” or “Caravan.” At other moments, this turns into a deep appreciation for the history of his own art form, in tracks such as “Domino,” which was written to honor Fats Domino and “Jackie Wilson Said.” The latter demonstrates that beyond the gentle nostalgia and childlike wonder of his more reflective work, his tone can be equally rough and raw. Has anyone ever been as forceful in his profession of love as Morrison is in “Gloria?” In the end, he is one of the most prolific and diverse songwriters of all time while at the same time he has created a body of work that is immediately recognizable.
Leave a Reply.
Don't have the time to listen to our podcast this week? Check out the transcript from each of our podcasts here.