FOND NATAL DAY WISHES
TO ROCK'S GRUMPIEST CURMUDGEON GENIUS
Van "The Man" Morrison turns 63 today. Notorious for his mercurial mood swings and, uh, "artistic temperament," he's been known to perform whole concerts with his back to the audience, grumbling forced thank-yous between songs and he's as likely to spit in your eye as answer your questions in an interview, but the cat is bloody brilliant and produced an unbroken string of inspired albums between 1968-1974 rivaled only by his fellow United Kingdom luminary Elton John and a handful of others. He's been no slouch in the intervening years and remains one of the most prolific musicians of his generation, especially in what many regard as the "golden years," where Morrison seems determined to steadily crank out albums. His most recent release, Keep It Simple, arrived this past April.
Full of Irish pride (and bluster), Morrison came to fame as a 19-year-old in Them, who scored a monster hit (and added one to rock's cannon) with "Gloria" in 1964. And he's been dodging the spotlight in many respects ever since. There's a seriousness and intrinsic spirituality to his work, occasionally punctured by lovers ditties or revisitations of the skiffle music of his youth. One hopes, on this day of all days, Mr. Morrison eases up and enjoys being alive and basks in the well-earned adoration of millions of fans. He's a force of bloody nature he is, and we encourage him, to borrow a few of his words, to "rave on thy holy fool/
down through the weeks of ages/ in the moss borne dark dank pools/ Rave on, down though the industrial revolution/ Empiricism, atomic and nuclear age." We're glad you were born Van. Hell, you've done humanity HUGE good just with Astral Weeks alone!
Our birthday salute begins with Morrison swinging hard with The Band at Winterland in 1976 at a famous lil' concert.
Here's The Swell Season performing a raw, heartfelt version of "Astral Weeks."
The sheer sweetness of Van's pen rises up beautifully on this cover of "Crazy Love" by Glen Phillips, accompanied by Willy Porter, from 2006.