Astral Van

I have been a Van Morrison fan since Moondance. Over the decades I have built a fairly complete collection, so large that I’m splitting it into two posts.  The first song of his I was familiar with was Gloria – though at the time I didn’t connect it with him. It was a cut on The Blues Magoos’ Electric Comic Book. 

His music journey has from from Irish garage-band rock with Them, to his early searching solo years after Astral Weeks, then Moondance, a return to traditional Irish, a transcendental mystic time of great spiritual discovery, to his present sense of looking back – even re-recording some of his early work. Each period has great work by this restless musical spirit.  

There are several books about him. I have read Astral Weeks: A Secret History of 1968 which is an excellent look at the pop scene of the time & his formative US years. Many of the songs it discusses are found on Bang Masters (67). I picked this up in February 1993. Brown Eyed Girl was his solo break-though. Mostly good solid soulful rock. The Bob Dylan inference shows on some tracks.

I have as mp3: Astral Weeks Expanded Edition 68 – which has extended versions a few tracks. The jazzy/chamber music setting is sweet &, at the time, quite revolutionary so radio stations didn’t know what to do with – musically a clear influence on the chamber rock of groups like Antony & the Johnsons. 

A stand-alones I have Moondance 70, His Band and The Street Choir 70, Tupelo Honey 71, St Dominic’s Preview 72, Hard Nose The Highway 73. At one time I had them as cassettes & upgraded to cd. Moondance remains a classic, timeless album. A more commercial recording than Astra Weeks. The music is celebratory, romantic & fun. The next ones are less hit-song driven, his sound changes from one to the next, choirs on one, more horns on another. I had most of these as cassettes at one time. Also mp3’s of Veedon Fleece 74, A Period of Transition 77.

Listening one can sense how his real life is reflected in his music. The end of his marriage, the wrestle with booze & drugs, his spiritual longings & his search for ways to express though lyrics & music his need to balance his expectations, fame & friends. In some ways a male version of Joni Mitchell but with a more rock sensibility. All of these are great albums but if you are unfamiliar start with Moondance & then Astral Weeks. 

More Van next week.

Anticipation 4

It was as he said ‘I want to know’ that he realized he did, in fact, accept The Book. It didn’t matter what he did, he couldn’t avoid his fate so he might as well start living to enjoy it. It didn’t matter what he did as long as he did something. The idea of making a decision that was not escape frightened him. That was also in The Book – ‘Martin will make the fearful choice after death.’ He regretted that it was someone else’s death.

So, this was the day. Overcast & slushy. No Michelangelo skies. As he dressed he wondered exactly what he would be doing at the moment of impact, the fulcrum of healing? Saving a drowning child? Taking a good shit? ‘What becomes the healing the world the most?’ he inhaled ‘God’, held it; breathed out, ‘Thank you.’ Then reversed the order.

Recently he had been pre-occupied by what would become of him after that moment. The Book ended with ‘On that February 14 Martin will begin the healing of the world.’ Nothing followed. Not that The Book had even been helpful in any important way. He had frequently wished it had said things like ‘Martin will become a doctor, or ‘wear those blue shorts to the beach.’ It only commented ‘… will then no longer feel lost.’ The horoscope in the newspaper was more helpful.

He hoped that once he got the healing started he could begin to live his own life for himself.

A list of To Do Today on the fridge had only one item on it – ‘Replace plug on corner lamp.’ That meant a trip to the hardware store, people, uniformed sales clerks. All the things he’d rather avoid.

The elevator in his building wasn’t working, again. Luckily he only had a six flight walk. In the carpark he discovered his arial had been snapped off, again. At least this time they hadn’t scratched a map of the world on his roof.

He went the hardware store in the mall. Found what he wanted quickly then went over to Finest Burgers in the food court. Ordered one with works & found a quiet spot that faced the dining area.

He looked at the hamburger & the fries. Fries overcooked to just the brownness he liked. The first bite was perfection. He knew it wasn’t the most healthy food but the combination of salt, ketchup & grease exploded in his mouth in the most satisfying way. A way he knew alfalfa sprouts couldn’t come near.

The molecular structure of the grease changed & the cholesterol deposits in Martin’s arteries began to dissolve. 

Brenda’s doctor looked at the test results. “Gone! Completely in remission.”

Charles put the gun down.

Brian decided he could look after the kids without her.

The blood sample on the slide mutated, the helper cells began to win.

Sylvia decided not to have that last donut.

Martin glanced up & saw that it was just after one. The healing had begun! He looked around expecting to see transformation. All he saw was people eating. He bit into his hamburger, Perfection again. And so it should be, after all wasn’t this a perfect day. The first perfect day ever.

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An Emotional Fish

An Emotional Fish is one of those Irish bands that got washed away by the tide of U2, even though they even opened for U2 and were under that corporate umbrella. They made no real North American break through. Another Irish band that got washed away was Hothouse Flowers (more about them when I get to the H’s).

shatter01 shattered & scattered

Released in 1990, I picked up this cd in May 1993 – mainly because of the band’s name so it must have been cheap enough that I was willing to take a gamble.

silver breaking the ice

The music is solid rock, sometimes pretty & always propulsive. I really liked a couple of the tracks: Grey Matter, Lace Virginia & can conjure them up in my head without having to put the cd on.

shatter02 shattered close up

Strong vocals, excellent production values and Irish without being overtly Celtic or too mystic a la Van Morrison (more about my Morrison collection when we get to the M’s). I did pick up another CD of their years later but nothing on it grabbed me enough to keep it.

samples

Goodbye

neither of us could say it  mean it

or could somehow make it stick

though we both knew it was in the air

we didn’t want to face the full implication

the only way

it could be come real

was for one of us to die

to move away

to vanish

 

the moment the word

might stray into the air between us

we knew that it would

never be uttered with conviction

with willingness

or with an intention

that it become a fact

 

it became an unspoken threat

if you don’t do x

then it’s goodbye

but when x wasn’t done

nothing much changed

some flicker of spite

then on to the next development

 

another word

is removed from the vocabulary

to be replace with the nod

the I’ll-be-seeing-you eyebrow

the till-tomorrow squeeze

the I-can’t-wait-till-you-call email

the tender animated gif

 

this the way of separation

the never dearly departed

the closeness one wishes for

that may never occur

hasn’t been enough

to make your goodbye take

 

I say that

because the same has been true for me

I’ve been ready to utter

but not prepared for the follow through

for the consequences

the door is too easy open

and comfort too simple

not to be real

to be lasting

but

it does have room to spare

time to allow change

though the change

seems to consume you more than me

 

the other side of farewell

is too dark and bleak

to consider

we both know that what lies there

isn’t the unknown

but a return to what was there

before the first glance   first hello

that tumbled us to bed

heart first

lips locked

too locked to mumble anything deeper

than

yes oh yes

 

what I might miss

is the sound of you sleeping

beside me or in a room nearby

a room I can peak in to watch

the rise  fall

the wriggle of a bare foot

out of the cover

the slip off of a too warm blanket

to reveal the the true moon

 

the impending goodbye

is kept at a distance

gives you the room to make a move

to bring you other opportunities

chances to explore

fears you never had to face with me

the fears of meeting someone with whom

goodbye would mean goodbye

here your goodbye won’t stand

it’ll merely meant

let’s try this way for now

bdoor very blue door