A Six-Pack of Van the Man

NOTE- Genuinely interesting, if unexpected, tour announcement. Jeff Beck, Paul Rodgers, and Ann Wilson are touring this summer. If I were a promoter it would never have occurred to me to put these three together. But there it is. Check it out here.

If I’ve not done a lot on Van Morrison over the life of this blog, it’s not for lack of love of his music. It’s just that I keep thinking I’ll get to a series and never do. So here’s a six-pack of some great tunes by the man from Belfast.

There’s a grocery store I shop at that plays classic rock over the PA system. I’m not exactly sure why that is unless maybe the owner is a boomer. Certainly, the 16-year old kids stocking the shelves aren’t into it. I heard one kid complain about some Faces song, “Man, that’s the third time I’ve heard that.” Heh! Consider yourself lucky, kid, you’re getting an education.

Anyway, I digress. I mention that little anecdote because they played this Van song that has been going around in my head for a while. So as any blogger will rightly tell you, hearing someone play a song that’s in your head is synchronicity of the most cosmic sort and one is then compelled to blog about it.

First up, “Wavelength” from Van’s 1978 (was it that long ago?) album of the same name. Garth Hudson plays on this album. Excellent guitar on this tune by Bobby Tench who has played with everybody including the Streetwalkers, a band that fellow blogger CB turned me onto a while back:

This is a song about
Your wavelength and my wavelength
Baby

Spotify link

Here’s a nice little bluesy number called “Gypsy In My Soul” from Van’s 2005 album Magic Time. A well-received album, of it AllMusic says, “Here, Celtic soul, gritty blues, finger-popping swing, R&B, and classic pop all jockey for dominance over ten originals and three covers. Morrison’s sequencing keeps them balanced and the proceedings sharp:”

Spotify link

Okay, I’ve gotta throw at least one classic Van in here, right? How’s this? Ronnie Montrose on guitar, longtime Morrison saxman Jack Schroer nails a sweet solo:

You can take all the tea in China
Put it in a big brown bag for me
Sail right around all the seven oceans
Drop it straight into the deep blue sea

She’s as sweet as Tupelo honey
She’s an angel of the first degree
She’s as sweet as Tupelo honey
Just like honey from the bee

Spotify link

Has there ever been a better version of “Caravan” then Van nailed with The Band at The Last Waltz? Don’t know. This is one for the ages. I like how Van kicks his leg out when the band emphasizes the point:

Spotify link

Let’s get cookin’ with a fun, upbeat number from Van’s 1979 album, Into the Music. It’s called “Bright Side of the Road.” Put on your dancing shoes:

Spotify link

Let’s end this Van Morrison extravaganza with a song I heard once on the radio, fell in love with, then promptly forgot about. I think I may have heard it once during Hurricane Katrina when all those people were stuck in that sorry situation. It’s another terrific tune from Magic Time and it’s called “Stranded.” Van plays sax on this one:

Spotify link

20 thoughts on “A Six-Pack of Van the Man

        1. In my generation I think the worst ones are Shania Twain’s From This Moment and Bob Carlisle’s Butterfly Kisses. I like Pachabel’s Canon but it’s also become cliche.

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  1. Another nice six-pack, Jim. In case you were rooting for the Patriots yesterday, I assume you may have needed one or more!🤣

    In my case, let’s just say I prefer much more the band than the team called the Eagles. Growing up in soccer-obsessed Germany, football was an afterthought at best.

    On a more serious note, I like all the tracks you highlighted. While like every artist Van Morrison has written songs that are better than others, I’ve yet to hear a track from him that sucks. He truly is Van the Man!

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    1. Yeah, I was rooting for them for sure. That said, it’s not like the Pats haven’t won enough. I think the Eagles were just hungrier and their fans badly needed a win. (I’m from Philly originally so I know the deal.) For the record, I’m out twenty bucks on a bet with my friend in Philly. Oh, well. Yeah, I wanted to find a nice mix. I’d forgotten about ‘Stranded,’ stumbled on it and said, Oh Yeah!

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  2. Good tunes! Used to be heavily into Van Morrison but not as much for a while now. “Poetic Champions Compose” is an album that grabbed me by the scruff when it came out and is still magical after all these years. I saw him back in 1990 (!); had the good fortune to catch him in a good mood that night. Funny note: As you may know, he’s a stature-challenged guy. About four songs into the show, my friend nudged me and whispered, “When is he going to stand up?”, to which I replied, “He is.”

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    1. Same for me with Van. He’s been around so long he’s not setting trends or isn’t as highly visible. I never saw him and I’m still kicking myself I didn’t see him when he toured with Dylan some years ago. Van was here not too long ago but it was sold out. I think I’ll track him and try to catch him. He’s one of the few of that generation I haven’t seen and still want to.

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  3. BTW, I also saw something about that co-headlining summer tour of Paul Rodgers, Jeff Beck and Ann Wilson – believe it was on Facebook. “Stars Align Tour” is a clever title!

    I have to admit I’m somewhat intrigued. Rodgers/Bad Company and Free are definitely up my alley. I saw Jeff Beck in 2016 in a co-headliner with Buddy Guy – Beck’s definitely a cool dude! I’m not very familiar with Heart’s music but also like some of their tracks.

    BTW, Rodgers and co. are gonna be right in your backyard, as well as in mine. But I still need to figure out which of the bigger (read more costly) shows I want to see this year.

    Already on the list are Buddy Guy and Steely Dan. I’m also very tempted to see Steve Winwood another time. He is doing a “Greatest Hits Live” tour starting later this month. If it mirrors his career-spanning “Greatest Hits Live” album that came out last year, it would be awesome. The guy’s voice and his Hammond B3 just never get boring to me.

    Too many rock & roll shows, too little money – life as a rock & roll fan can suck!

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    1. I’m going to a couple of club shows, maybe one at a theater. The only big one I’m seriously considering is Lynyrd Skynyrd who claim it’s their last tour. And I have had “play air guitar to Free Bird at a Skynryd concert” on my bucket list forever.

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  4. What took you so long? I was wondering if you didn’t dig Van. ‘Wavelength’ would send me on a Morrison binge too. CB is a bit of a Van freak. One of my top singers and you pulled out 6 winners. He was feeling it on ‘Caravan’ for sure. Maybe a few cocktails were consumed. As usual our timing is on the same “wavelength”, CB has Tupelo Honey coming up soon. I love that album. Count on you to note the guitar work. I’m digging the tunes right now. One of the first cds I gave to Princess Falda was the Best of Van. When you’re talking Van Morrison you’re talking Babyhead’s lingo.

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    1. That playlist I did a post or two ago had a Van-sized hole in it. So I figured I’d slam six to make up for lost time. I’ve been wanting to do ‘Wavelength ‘ for a while and ‘Caravan ‘ ever since my Band series. The universe is now righted. Look forward to your ‘Tupelo’ piece.

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