The Driving Rhythm of Van Morrison

Jan 20, 15 The Driving Rhythm of Van Morrison

Van Morrison (born George Ivan Morrison) has been making music for over half a century. The singer/songwriter, who is also a prolific multi-instrumentalist, is best known for a sound that incorporates many genres (folk, jazz, blues, country, etc.) as well as visionary lyricism. He has written hundreds of songs and recorded over 30 albums. Some of the acclaim that Morrison has received over the years includes several Grammy Awards and being inducted into The Songwriters and Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

In 1964, Morrison formed the band Them. With his influences ranging from Hank Williams to Mahalia Jackson, Them possessed a sound that was downright soulful. They scored a few hits during their run including “Here Comes The Night” and “Baby Please Don’t Go.” After a brief tour in 1966, Morrison’s yearning for a more transcendental and experimental sound led him to embark on a solo journey. His debut album Blowin’ Your Mind spawned the classic song Brown Eyed Girl and made Morrison an artist to be reckoned with. By the time he released his third album, 1970’s Moondance, he was able to conjure up a sound that invoked a sort of spiritual reverence in listeners the way that Morrison desired. He has even contended that songs from that record are even more potent when performed live.

Morrison’s Irish roots are considerably present in his work. Astral Weeks capitalized on the authentic nature of Afro Celtic Blues. This sound floated through a string of albums, reaching its pinnacle on 1986’s No Guru, No Method, No Teacher and spilling over to Poetic Champions Compose the succeeding year. On follow up efforts Irish Heartbeat and Avalon Sunset, Morrison collaborated with traditional Irish band The Chieftains (they would later collaborate again in 1995). Celestial at certain moments and laconic at others, these auditory characteristics became a heavy part of Morrison’s persona. His lyrics referenced concepts such as mysticism, love, Ireland, famous poets, and even his disdain for the music industry. Morrison also penned the legendary tune “Have I Told You Lately,” which has been covered by various artists over the years; the most famous being Rod Stewart.

Throughout his career, he has collaborated with other music legends like Ray Charles, John Lee Hooker, and Tom Jones. In 2008, Morrison delighted and surprised fans when he announced that he would perform Astral Weeks in its entirety at the Hollywood Bowl in Los Angeles. Astral Weeks Live at the Hollywood Bowl was released the following year. Morrison’s most recent album is 2012’s Born To Sing: No Plan B. He revisits the concepts of growing up in Ireland as well as the pitfalls of fame and wealth. Morrison has also been very candid and reflective of his career and legacy in several interviews after the release of Born. He is still touring and performing.

This article was produced by Mahee Ferlini who writes about music and travel on her website

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