Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Gonna Love You in My Chevy, Van

I thought sure I'd already obsessed somewhere around here about Van Morrison, but according to the "search this blog" feature in the toolbar above, I haven't. Sadly, time does not permit me to do so now, either, but suffice it to say I've been a fan since that night known so well to college kids the world round, when someone breaks out a bottle of wine and Moondance and you listen to that foghorn blow for the very first time and sail into the mystic.

That was my introduction, 25 years ago or so, to the romantic/poetic side of Van. But there are so very many more: the spiritual seeker, the blues revivalist, the Irish icon, the guy who gave the oldies stations of the world "Brown-Eyed Girl," and so on and so on. But my favorite Vancarnation (other than the maker of a string of breathlessly beautiful albums in the mid-to-late 70s) is The Eccentric Coot: the guy who's put out a number of 15-20-minute-long compositions built around endlessly repeated nonsense phrases and syllables, the one who gives really scary interviews, and, best of all, the man who recorded the legendary 1967 sessions which are now archived on WFMU's blog. They're all right there on the blog waiting for you to sample them: "Twist and Shake," "Shake and Roll," "Stomp and Scream" (and mucho additional variations); a similar batch titled "Blowin' Your Nose," "Nose in Your Blow," and the like; the only known blues lament to "Ringworm;" "You Say France and I Whistle" (that's pretty much the complete lyrics, as I recall); a bunch of possible "Madam George" precursors, including "Dum Dum George" (which might not be such a bad song to revive for the current presidential administration, come to think of it); and the self-reflexive "Freaky If You Got This Far," congratulating the listener for making it through all of the above. Best of all: "Big Fat Royalty Check," in which our hero is waiting for exactly that.

I think of this stuff (which I've got on a low-cost Charly boxed set called Payin' Dues) as a precursor to both Jonathan Richman and Public Image, Ltd., if you can imagine that unholy marriage. It's all just Van and an acoustic guitar, and it was never meant to be heard by the likes of you or I, and yet here it is. Freaky!

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