Dec 202011

I’d like to propose a new RTH Glossary entry, the Retirement Fund Song (aka Rock IRA). Now I would never dare think that artists as idiosyncratic and with as much integrity as Van Morrison and Lou Reed would ever consciously write a song with the goal of funding their retirement, but by chance they have succeeded wildly with “Have I Told You Lately That I Love You” and “Perfect Day,” respectively. Think of all the special occasions folks will attach to those songs. Think of all the times those songs will be covered by a diverse set of artists. Think of the royalties those covers will generate.

Perhaps the original rock ‘n roll Retirement Fund Song was The Beatles‘ “Yesterday,” written and performed almost solely by Paul McCartney but powerful enough to fund the planned retirement of his songwriting partner John Lennon. Again, I have no reason to believe Paul consciously wrote “Yesterday” with retirement in mind, but in these tough economic times I can imagine today’s rockers feeling more apt to plan ahead.

To help a future generations of retired rockers, can we define the makings of a Retirement Fund Song (as opposed to any old “hit song”)? For instance, it would seem obvious that the song must be easy for other artists to cover and be romantic and/or nostalgic in lyrical content, but let’s get down to brass tacks. Let’s map out a rock ‘n roll retirement strategy around a legacy-making song that should be a part of the catalog of any artist with an eye toward a second vacation home.

Dec 192011

Here’s a clip I’ve been keeping watch for on YouTube for some time: Van Morrison and Sinead O’Connor with The Chieftans on Letterman. I never paid much attention to O’Connor during her hairless peak, but she’s more worth a few minutes of my time when she’s got hair on the top of her head. I like Morrison a lot, so the night I was watching Letterman and saw them come out together my index finger lifted from the remote control.

I’m not a great fan of “Have I Told You Lately That I Love You.” It’s like Morrison’s “Perfect Day” in the Lou Reed catalog: played to death, easy to digest, sentimental, overpraised, and musically not that gripping to my ears. In this performance, however, I loved watching the contrast of O’Connor trying to stick to the song’s script like a devout fangirl while the song’s author scats inappropriately and generally seems intent on throwing her off course. In the closing moments Van takes it to the limit, and we witness The Unclenching.

Jul 152011

It’s been an intense week, no? Why don’t we bring things down a notch with a sober, mature discussion of our favorite late-period Van Morrison albums? By “late-period” I am referring only to releases post-1978’s Wavelength. It goes without saying that reissues of albums originally released from (or recorded prior to) 1978 or earlier do no count.

I look forward to your responses.

Mar 172011

If my father’s side of my family kept their genealogical records straighter than they did their own lives I’m one-eighth Irish. This should give me at least one-eighth reason for joy on St. Patrick’s Day, but a childhood of family induced shame of that small part of my heritage still makes it tough for me to muster any enthusiasm for the wearing of the green and all that goes with the holiday.

Deep down I spend part of St. Patrick’s Day, including the days that lead up to it, mocking the Irish and their history of drinking and bad food. It’s a time for my Italian-American pride to secretly bask in the glory of my maternal side’s delicious food and sensuous homeland. It’s a time for me to derisively laugh at the memory of my dead-but-much-longer-than-that-gone father and all the hell he caused for the family.

“Jimmy,” my maternal grandmother—my first favorite person on this earth—would rib me from as early a time as I can remember, “are you Italian or Irish?” Continue reading »

Oct 262010

Here’s Van Morrison doing “Wavelength” on Saturday Night Live. Check out this video while it lasts, because the rights holders to musical performances on SNL are obsessed with wiping this stuff clean off the Web.

This is the last Van Morrison song I love, and one of the things I love about it is how corny it is, throwing around that mood ring-worthy “wavelength” jive just a few years past its due date. It was perfect for me, a kid coming of age on the tail end of hippiedom and free love. To this day it still makes me feel like that era saved a morsel of peace, love, and understanding for my own enjoyment.

Can you think of other songs that unironically debuted with outdated catchphrases?


Lost Password?

twitter facebook youtube