Wednesday, March 04, 2009

FBO: 'Jukebox Anti-Hero: Van Morrison'

We're not sure if this is OK or not, but we've never been fans of Van Morrison, regardless of his tenacity for his costume in Marty Scorcese's The Last Waltz, the send-off of the overly earnest band The Band. Morrison, with his stern expression and plump figure, squeezes himself into a polyester jump suit with fake diamond duds on the back. He does flying kicks at one point. It's awesome.

Morrison is having himself a little comeback, in the 41st anniversary of Astral Weeks, an album the rock-changes-lives critics tell us to download. They say, 'it's a soulful unclassifiable rock with jazz musicians,' like a prequel to Sting's Dream of Turtles of Blue. He's touring and -- following the trend of late to perform albums in their predictable sequential entirety -- playing it on stage.

In a little profile in this week's New Yorker (a magazine with incredibly written stories about, frequently, incredibly boring subjects), Morrison hangs with a writer and plays old obscure songs on an East Village bar's jukebox from well-known pre-Beatle rockers like Gene Vincent, Bo Diddley, Little Richard and Fats Domino. 'The Beatles were peripheral... meaningless,' he spits at one point. He's happy enough to tour but no longer sees shows. 'I've seen all the people I wanted to see... Why do I need to keep finding new bands when I have the originals?'

That pretty sums up why none of us can name -- or perhaps should even try -- a single Van Morrison song of the past 35 years.

'Best Albums of All Time' lists frequently put this one in the Top 20. England's The Times had it at No 3, Rolling Stone had it at 19 (and we're thankful, as they claim, that Van 'was never this open, and naked, again'), Mojo mag at 2. (Really? 2?) Time rambles about its 'mystic poetry, spacious grooves, and romantic incantations.' In a Guardian article -- London paper -- last year, they spoke with a psychologist who couldn't get enough of the eight-track disc from Morrison (story). The psychologist Adam Jesse J Phillips says:

'His voice is a thing of quite extreme beauty. What is extraordinary is the emotional atmosphere he creates in the songs and the sense that he is not even remotely concerned about communicating with an audience or a listener. He's just singing out his songs, and we are, in a sense, listening in.'

He adds:

'I don't think he has a clue what this music is about, other than it comes from somewhere deep inside him.'

This is funny. Rock singers look for answers -- how to score chicks, how to understand parents, how to make sense of life -- in about every rock song from Chuck Berry to the Jonas Brothers. Is it really that surprising that an Irish recluse didn't have life figured out at 23? And the statement, said in awe, that Morrison apparently 'is not even remotely concerned about communicating with an audience' seems to explain some of his jukebox theories from the New Yorker piece.

Per our psychology, Van may have issues.

But still we feel bad that -- after 41 years of its life -- we've never heard the album. Never really considered it. So, we volunteer to christen next week on FBO as our 'astral week' -- we'll listen and see if A-Dub is worth the hype after all these years. We'll judge it on a few factors including Van's cluelessness, the extremity of the beauty in his voice, and his snub of the listener's cares or concerns.

->Meanwhile, we politely ask Van to apologize for his snub of failed bands of the past 45 years.

FBO Admin
Mobile/Semi-Permanent HQ -- Brooklyn, NY


pseudosu said...

"Why bother finding new bands?"
Spoken like a true fossil.

"Rock singers look for answers, ... chicks,parents etc"
A recent discovery-- "you don't understand the lengths I would go to be understood by your dad..."
By Brad Sucks. Isn't that great?

THE FBO said...

We'd like to know where we can pick up the Brad Sucks pamplet.

tom caw said...

If you have never listened to Astral Weeks, then I'm guessing you have never read Lester Bangs' famous reflection on Van's record. You should read it:

boosty said...

I used to love brown eyed girl cause it sounds like the beatles or the sherells or whatever their called but dude I don't think your comment about the beatles is gonna get you more popular than the beatles or make you cooler but I think you are wrong, the music before the beatles was good yes but then it was not as good as the beatles thats a simple fact no hard feelings and I think I'think i'm gonna stic with the beatles oh i think your brown eyed girl song is better than one or two beatles songs no 9 and when i'm sixty four haha!