Monday, October 24, 2016

Ten on Tuesday: My 10 favorite Van Morrison songs

#7 showed up on my pandora station Sunday afternoon, on my birthday, and I couldn't believe that I had forgotten how much I loved that song. And I started thinking in lists, like I do, realizing that most of my favorites are songs that most of the people I know probably don't know. Van Morrison holds a special place for me--he can show up on any pandora station and I don't thumb him down. This isn't true for anyone else. I have stations built around several different genres, but he's the only one that transcends.

10. And it Stoned Me. This song was sent to me on a mix tape by my best friend at the time, Robin. She also introduced me to the Grateful Dead, but it took me longer to develop an appreciation. My favorite lines are from the very beginning: Me and Billy standing there, with a silver half a crown/hands all full of fishing rods and the tackle on our backs/we just stood there getting wet with our backs against the fence. Just give in to the rain.

9. Gypsy Queen. Dance on, you know it's all right, Gypsy Queen. 

8. Caravan. Turn on your electric light, so we can get down to what is really wrong. So many nights of my life spent at a kitchen table or front seat of a car or in a corner of a living room getting down to what is really wrong.

7. Bulbs. This is more of a stream of consciousness song, I'm pretty sure, not really telling one story but bits and pieces of them. So many bits evoke images in my brain. This:
I'm kicking off from center fieldA question of being down for the gameThe one shot deal don't matterAnd the other one's the sameOh! My friend I see youWant you to come through (alright)And she's standing in the shadowsWhere the street lights all turn blueShe leaving for an American (uhuh)Suitcase in her handI said her brothers and her sistersAre all on Atlantic sandShe's screaming through the alley wayI hear the lonely cry, why can't you?And her batteries are corrodedAnd her hundred watt bulb just blew
6. Cyprus Avenue. This is the first song on this list from Astral Weeks, which has to be his best album ever. When it showed up on my sister-in-law's Christmas list last year I snatched that right up for her. It really is perfect. My favorite lines: I'm conquered in a car seat/not a thing that I can do. And: yeah baby my tongue gets tied, every time I try to speak, my tongue gets tied, every every time I try to speak, and my inside shakes just like a leaf on a tree. 

5. Slim Slow Slider. Also from Astral Weeks, the last song on the album. It's just so raw. You're gone for something/and I know you won't be back/I know you're dying baby, and I know you know it too/every time I see you, I just don't know what to do. Because that is what I have felt so many times at so many partings with so many people.

4. Ballerina.

Well, I may be wrongBut something deep in my heart tells me I'm right and I don't think soYou know I saw the writing on the wallWhen you came up to meChild, you were heading for a fall 
And this time I forget to slip into your slumberThe light is on the left side of your headAnd I'm standing in your doorwayAnd I'm mumbling and I can't remember the last thing that ran through my head

3. Sweet Thing. Also from Astral Weeks. This line is a mantra of mine, something I find myself repeating when I step outside into a beautiful day or even just walk through life: And I will never ever grow so old again. Because I've been old. I've given up on living before, really living. I've given up on trying. I've walked blankly through life and not allowed myself to really live. But I keep trying. I keep working on not growing so old again.

2.  St. Dominic's Preview. This song means something to me that doesn't apply to what Morrison was aiming for. I've read his background on it but the line that gets me is:

All the orange boxes are scattered
Against the safeway supermarket in the rain
And everybody feels so determined
Not to feel anyone else's pain
I heard this song for the first time the week after my aunt died. Only a Blake would understand why it hit me so hard. But everybody does feel so determined not to feel anyone else's pain.

Except I can't not.

1. Astral Weeks. Obviously, also from Astral Weeks.

If I ventured in the slipstream
Between the viaducts of your dream
Where immobile steel rims crack
And the ditch in the back roads stop
Could you find me?
Could you?

Tryin to do my very best.


  1. I love Van too as you well know.

  2. I also love Van Morrison, but clearly the way I listen to music is very different to the way you do. I couldn't tell you the names of his songs or any of the lyrics, till I heard them. I am glad you singled out this one though -
    "everybody feels so determined
    Not to feel anyone else's pain"
    I see this so often. Maybe I will even steal it for a post of my own.

    Now I'm off to listen to each of these songs individually.