Van Morrison – in concert at The Bottom Line, New York- 1978 – BBC Radio 1 –
Van Morrison to end the working week. Recorded live at The Bottom Line in New York in 1978 for BBC Radio 1’s In Concert Series.
Fans need no background or bio – we practically grew up with Van Morrison, ever since he first took the world by storm as lead singer for Them and gave us Gloria. Here Comes The Night and a string of pivotal and cornerstone numbers.
But if you’re just getting acquainted with Van Morrison – either heard about him, or stumbled across his name in your musical excavations, here’s a bit of background via Wikipedia, which should give you some background on this legendary artist:
Van Morrison has a reputation for being at once stubborn, idiosyncratic, and sublime. His live performances at their best are seen as transcendental and inspired; while some of his recordings, such as the studio albums Astral Weeks and Moondance, and the live album It’s Too Late to Stop Now, are acclaimed.
Moondance (1970) established Morrison as a major artist, and he built on his reputation throughout the 1970s with a series of acclaimed albums and live performances. He continues to record and tour, producing albums and live performances that sell well and are generally warmly received, sometimes collaborating with other artists, such as Georgie Fame and The Chieftains.
Much of Morrison’s music is structured around the conventions of soul music and R&B, such as the popular singles “Brown Eyed Girl”, “Jackie Wilson Said (I’m in Heaven When You Smile)”, “Domino” and “Wild Night”. An equal part of his catalogue consists of lengthy, loosely connected, spiritually inspired musical journeys that show the influence of Celtic tradition, jazz and stream-of-consciousness narrative, such as the album Astral Weeks and the lesser known Veedon Fleece and Common One. The two strains together are sometimes referred to as “Celtic soul”. He has received two Grammy Awards, the 1994 Brit Award for Outstanding Contribution to Music, the 2017 Americana Music Lifetime Achievement Award for Songwriting and has been inducted into both the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and the Songwriters Hall of Fame. In 2016, he was knighted for services to the music industry and to tourism in Northern Ireland. He is known by the nickname Van the Man to his fans.
Morrison’s influence can readily be heard in the music of a diverse array of major artists and according to The Rolling Stone Encyclopedia of Rock and Roll (Simon & Schuster, 2001), “his influence among rock singers/song writers is unrivaled by any living artist outside of that other prickly legend, Bob Dylan. Echoes of Morrison’s rugged literateness and his gruff, feverish emotive vocals can be heard in latter day icons ranging from Bruce Springsteen to Elvis Costello”. His influence includes U2 (Bono was quoted saying “I am in awe of a musician like Van Morrison. I had to stop listening to Van Morrison records about six months before we made The Unforgettable Fire because I didn’t want his very original soul voice to overpower my own.”); John Mellencamp (“Wild Night”);Jim Morrison; Joan Armatrading (the only musical influence she will acknowledge); Nick Cave; Rod Stewart; Tom Petty; Rickie Lee Jones (recognizes both Laura Nyro and Van Morrison as the main influences on her career); Elton John; Graham Parker; Sinéad O’Connor; Phil Lynott of Thin Lizzy; Bob Seger (“I know Bruce Springsteen was very much affected by Van Morrison, and so was I.” from Creem interview) (“I’ve Been Working”); Kevin Rowland of Dexys Midnight Runners (“Jackie Wilson Said”); Jimi Hendrix (“Gloria”); Jeff Buckley (“The Way Young Lovers Do”, “Sweet Thing”); Nick Drake; and numerous others, including the Counting Crows (their “sha-la-la” sequence in Mr Jones is a tribute to Morrison). Morrison’s influence reaches into the country music genre, with Hal Ketchum acknowledging, “He (Van Morrison) was a major influence in my life.”
Morrison’s influence on the younger generation of singer-songwriters is pervasive: including Irish singer Damien Rice, who has been described as on his way to becoming the “natural heir to Van Morrison”; Ray Lamontagne; James Morrison; Paolo Nutini; Eric Lindell David Gray and Ed Sheeran are also several of the younger artists influenced by Morrison. Glen Hansard of the Irish rock band the Frames (who lists Van Morrison as being part of his holy trinity with Bob Dylan and Leonard Cohen) commonly covers his songs in concert. American rock band the Wallflowers have covered “Into the Mystic”. Canadian blues-rock singer Colin James also covers the song frequently at his concerts. Actor and musician Robert Pattinson has said Van Morrison was his “influence for doing music in the first place”. Morrison has shared the stage with Northern Irish singer-songwriter Duke Special, who admits Morrison has been a big influence.
Overall, Morrison has typically been supportive of other artists, often willingly sharing the stage with them during his concerts. On the live album, A Night in San Francisco, he had as his special guests, among others, his childhood idols: Jimmy Witherspoon, John Lee Hooker and Junior Wells. Although he often expresses his displeasure (in interviews and songs) with the music industry and the media in general, he has been instrumental in promoting the careers of many other musicians and singers, such as James Hunter, and fellow Belfast-born brothers, Brian and Bap Kennedy.
Morrison has also influenced the other arts: the German painter Johannes Heisig created a series of lithographs illustrating the book In the Garden – for Van Morrison, published by Städtische Galerie Sonneberg, Germany, in 1997.
There you go – now hit the play button and settle down – good stuff is in store.