May 112021

He was a great…man!

Even in his prime, Van Morrison wasn’t ever accused of being remotely “hinged.” He hasn’t married his wife’s daughter yet, so for me, I haven’t quite reached the level of discomfort I feel over Woody Allen. I wonder if he’s fully losing his mind, maybe getting dementia or some other condition that people at his age can get.

I scanned through his new album, with some generic title and clip-art cover. It is as execrable as you might have read in reviews. It’s got that anti-Semitic single you’ve probably heard about. And another song calling those of us on Facebook idiots. All that’s missing is a duet with Clint Eastwood entitled “Get Off My Lawn.” It’s not worth discussing the music. It’s as generic as the album title and cover art. The lyrics are pathetic.

I wonder how much more of these meltdown albums we’re going to be subjected to as the first wave of rockers who wrote their own songs reaches their final years of fear and misery. Pre-rock artists like Sinatra could be spoonfed classics written by others as their personal worldview might have been caving in. That generation of artists didn’t stand for anything personal. They could “Put on a Happy Face” from the American Songbook with the help of a nurse.

Sadly, Van Morrison still has access to his original voice while bitterly rocking away on his porch and watching the world around him become a place that threatens him. He once had the ability to “Listen to the Lion.” I’m going to keep that part of the artist alive and let this present-day crank die off.


  6 Responses to “Listen to the Lion”

  1. You ask no questions but as I read your post I’m thinking of a relative of the meltdown album and that’s the lockdown album, EP, download, or concert.

    It seems at times that covid has led to more music than ever before. Robyn Hitchcock, who has been a live favorite of mine for 35 years has been doing two one hour virtual shows a week for over a year now. He’s accompanied by his partner Emma Swift and these hour shows are quite similar to his pre-covid live shows – rambling banter between songs, setlists of his own songs that often go to deep deep cuts, all request sets, lots of covers including entire shows of covers dedicated to a single artist or era. I should love them and I did. For awhile. Add to that his $5 a month Patreon package which gets you a couple of unreleased tunes a month as well as rambling writings.

    “It’s all too much” as he might have said during his late February, all-George Harrison shows (in honor of George’s late February birthday), except that he didn’t cover that song.

    I hope it hasn’t spoiled me when the real thing returns.

    And then there is Bandcamp Friday and the concurrent Bandcamp Friday Eve when my inbox gets filled with notices to download “new” offerings which are all too often odds & sods collections, cover collections, old live shows, and what not. Old friend of the Hall Martin Newell seems to have a monthly offering of CD reissues of old cassette only releases.

    For six months or so I tried to be supportive, sometimes of artists I barely knew. No restaurants or travel left disposable income which allowed me to feel like a minor-league Medici.

    But it’s been awhile since I logged on to an online concert (and didn’t the virtual concert experience teach us a lesson about the vital importance of performer-audience interaction?) and last Friday’s Bandcamp purchase consisted of one downloaded song.

    As for Van, well, his last, oh, 30+ years shows that the arc of Van is long but it bends towards vile kookiness.

  2. Happiness Stan

    Ooh, I wish I’d known about those Robyn Hitchcock gigs, I’ll have to look and see if they’re still available anywhere.

    Other than the singles he made with Them, I’ve never been a Van man, nothing he’s up to now surprises me, or changes the opinion I formed when I was about sixteen, i.e., the man’s a bit of an arse.

    With the honourable exception of Elton John, who rises almost daily in my estimation for his integrity, several among the premier league of British rock icons have not come out of the last few years well in terms of showing themselves on the side of either the angels or history.

    There’s quite a flurry going on over at a Facebook autograph forum about the Amazon exclusive signed edition of this new offering, on which the signatures are either stamped or printed. Opinions are divided as to which, but everyone is (dis)satisfied they aren’t real. Given his reputation, the only surprising thing is that anyone’s surprised.

  3. Re-reading my comment I realize it may come off as very unsympathetic. I do recognize that artists are in a tough position with covid as so many sources of income are not available in the same way. That is why I have tried to play Medici.

    HS, as far as I know those Hitchcock shows are not available on-line anywhere. Here’s a link for this week’s Wednesday show, geared timing wise to US listeners –
    And here is Friday’s show link, geared toward UK listeners –

    This is how each week works.

  4. BigSteve

    I’m a huge Robyn Hitchcock fan, but when I tried a few of the first of his Facebook live things, I couldn’t handle them, partly because I couldn’t deal with Emma.

    The thing about Van is that he held it together much longer than most singer songwriters. Into the 90s his albums were always good and occasionally very good. The Healing Game is 1997 seemed to close the door on that era. He started doing collaborations and projects with diminishing returns. I’m not too shocked that he’s subject to weird ideas. He’s been through Scientology and a variety of esoteric stuff like theosophy.

    It would be hard to believe that he needs the money at this point. At least I hope not. I think we forget how people just get used to attention. Van always seemed aggravated at everyone, including his audience. It’s kind of sad to discover he misses them.

  5. Van has always seemed like a cranky old misanthrope even when he was a fairly young man. Yet somehow he managed to make buoyant pop songs. It sounds like the strain of keeping up that facade is finally getting to be too much.

  6. hrrundivbakshi

    Meanwhile, on the purple planet, the Prince estate readies the release of his mysteriously abandoned political protest album, “Welcome 2 America.”

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