LISTEN: Van the Man is 75

Celebrating this birthday milestone for Irish rock icon Van Morrison with a stroll through an essential fraction of his catalog

Van Morrison (Art: Ron Hart)

As he hits 75, Van Morrison surely didn’t do his legacy a service last week after complaining about COVID-19 as he tries to conspire a socially distanced outdoor venue.

“As you know, we are doing socially distanced gigs at Newcastle Upon Tyne’s Gosforth Park, Electric Ballroom and The London Palladium,” Van wrote on his official website. “This is not a sign of compliance or acceptance of the current state of affairs. This is also not the answer going forward. We need to be playing to full capacity audiences going forward.”

Not exactly a bonfire of the kinda virus denial clickbait media wants you to believe with their tawdry headlines and punched up rhetoric. The part where Van threw people is when he uses the term “pseudoscience” regarding coronavirus research is where he got into hot water with the left-wing watchdogs. Now you got people on Facebook questioning their allegiance to the Van Morrison catalog, which is a little ridiculous to be honest. 

I get it. I understand. And there are times when its merited to snub the catalog of a once favored act over something reckless they said online (I’m looking at you, Exene). But in the case of Morrison, yea it might have been a little boneheaded to blurt out on a public forum such as his official website. Or even have that thought in his head, for that matter. But the guy is trying hard to create some kind of safe environment for live concerts, so good on the old boy for that. I hope he has a breakthrough that will change his way of thinking about stuff and brainstorm a true live concert experience under social distancing guidelines. That is, of course, until the very real science behind finding a successful vaccine, which will happen. 

Today is Van Morrison’s birthday, and not just any birthday.  The Big 75. It’s hard to imagine thinking of Van at any age, considering how much more wizened the music he’s composed throughout his life giving him almost a perpetual state of middle age in these last 50-odd years of his work as a solo artist. But all of it just weaves in and out of this shepherds pie of jazz, folk, R&B, blues and Celtic music of which only Van knows the original recipe. I’m here to say it: There are no bad Van Morrison albums. They are all consistently good throughout all five decades of his recorded output. Take your pick.

In honor of his 75th birthday, our pick is the period between 1988 and 1995, which is arguably one of Morrison’s most fruitful periods on Polydor Records, where he released such stone classics as Avalon Sunset, Days Like This and the essential live album One Night In San Francisco. We also included a couple of tracks from Morrison’s 1988 collaboration with fellow Irishmen The Chieftans Irish Heartbeat as well as his 1995 album with singer Georgie Fame How Long Has This Been Going On? 

And never forget what an underrated saxophonist this guy is.

Happy 75, Van. You’re still the man to us.


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Ron Hart

Ron Hart is the Editor-in-Chief of Rock and Roll Globe. Reach him on Twitter @MisterTribune.

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