My first thought about writing a blog about Van Morrison was that I was not going to include, Brown Eyed Girl or Moondance in my playlist this week. The reason, most people only know these two songs because they fall into a category I wrote about in a 2015 blog called, Great Songs Ruined by Radio. But, I also realized after spending a week on this week's playlist that the average Van Morrison song is over four minutes long and that's the round peg in the square hole known as AM/FM radio programming. For example the average current 'Classic Rock' radio listener doesn't know the 1972 Van Morrison hit, Tupelo Honey" because its 6 minutes and 55 seconds long.
Van Morrison is so much more than a prolific songwriter and musician, who at 74 has released 41 studio albums! His loyal fans know him as, "Van the Man" the master of many genres. Van Morrison born in 1945 is in the sweet spot of time of being a worthy representative of the greatest generation of songwriters and performers in the history of modern music. So putting the playlist together this week was a daunting exercise, as I should have started it before last week. So, if you are a loyal fan, let's just call this, "a good start mix" of 50+ songs. I have also included this screenshot from the Van Morrison Wikipedia of his very impressive discography.
This past Saturday night, I got to see Van Morrison live for the first time at his January 31 - February 8th residency at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas. The Colosseum is a fantastic venue and I picked it especially to see my first Van Morrison concert because of the theater's outstanding acoustics. The building and the man did not disappoint, not to mention Van's outstanding band which unfortunately (and a pet peeve of mine) did not get introduced.
Van is an interesting (okay, eccentric) guy. From the show's promotional picture above, you'd think he had just come from his best friend's funeral. As his legend of fans will attest, when you go to a Van Morrison concert don't expect him to be smiling and interacting with the audience. Van is all work, and man this guy loves his work. His "Celtic Soul" is a thing of beauty to listen and watch live. Van literally takes two seconds between songs and motors through 16 songs in a hour and a half. For most artists this would normally be a two hour show. During the show, Morrison reminded me of Bob Gibson, the master on the baseball mound and one of the fastest working pitchers, moving from one pitch to the next within seconds.
In doing the playlist this week, I was struck by the YouTube comments because usually that's something best avoided by those that actually take the time to push 'thumbs down' on a song. But, the comments for Van are almost 100% positive. Van Morrison simply touches people deeply. His music has such a spiritual quality in lyric, melody and beat that people have written how a song literally saved their life during a very dark time.
Oh, and I decided to include Brown Eyed Girl and Moondance in the playlist because of course he had to include them in the show. The crowd went absolutely crazy on these two songs and on the encore, Gloria. Really what do I know, nothing... but you'll get the jazz versions here because Van's sax and voice did the soulful talking last Saturday night. Enjoy my friends!