Sunday, September 02, 2007

happy birthday (& father's day) van

My favourite grumpy old musical pioneer and genius was 62 on Friday. All the best Ivan George. The big surprise is that Van is, allegedly, a father again. His partner, the extremely attractive TV presenter and former Miss Ireland, Michelle Rocca and Van are said to be the parents of 17 months old Aibhe Rocca Morrison. Silly old bugger. Serves him right to be up all night I say. Anyway happy Father's Day Van.

To celebrate I'm watching the DVD of Van Morrison: Live At Montreux 1974/ 1980 through again. You can pick it up at JBs for about $14. Do yourself a big favour. (I'm looking at you Amanda Flop). To tide you over until then this clip of Van doing Summer time in England gives a good example of the man in action. I worry that YouTube sound is substandard and played through small computer speakers is even more degraded. I just hope that sensible people don't restrict their listening to lossy compressed sound over computer speakers. But I'm afraid they do.

Anyway. It's traditional amongst true believers (and shoddy journalists) to celebrate Van's milestones with stories of grumpiness. Here's my latest; Glen Hansard from The Frames, support group to Bob on the recent tour, went to a birthday party for Van:

About 10 years ago I was invited by a mutual friend to Van’s 50th birthday. Me and my girlfriend drove to his huge country house. Van was there, Jerry Lee Lewis and his wife, some friends and children as well as some dogs (smiles). An all intimate small circle and a unique experience. Some time during the evening a woman came to us and whispered: “Come to the living room, Van sings some songs.” So we all went there, Van and Jerry were singing and it was incredibly touching.

Q: You must have been in seventh heaven?

A: Both were drunk, sang country songs and I WAS in heaven. A bit later that evening, Van asked whether anyone would like to hear a certain song. I was completely insecure whether I should say something or not and refrained. When he shortly afterwards asked again, whether there was nobody who had a request I worked up the courage and said: “Hungry for your love”. “Hungry for your love” is a song from the “Wavelength” album which I adore. Van looked at me coolish and said: “You don’t know me!” I turned around and left the room. That was exactly, what you never want to hear from your idol. It was rude and impolite.

Q: So he really is the grumpy man that everyone thinks he is?

A: He often is grumpy. A little bit later my girlfriend came to look after me and made me go in again. Van was still singing and I enjoyed it. At the same time I was very hurt. He asked whether anybody wants to sing something and my girlfriend said: “Glen will play!" Van looked around, came up to me, handed me his guitar and left the room. I felt so terrible. I played a song and people liked it. When I played a second song, Van returned and after I finished he asked me: “What was it that you wanted to hear?” I replied: “Hungry for your love.” “Do you know it?” I said: “Yes”. And he said: “Okay ­ then sing it!” He really asked me to sing his song.

Q: Your favourite song.

A: My favourite song by him. I really sang it on his request. When I had finished we went into another room. Van sat down with me, handed me his guitar and said: “Play for me!” So I played for him and we then spent the whole night there singing his songs. It was completely unreal and a giant challenge. One of those stories you can make a film of: Young man meets his idol, is spurned by him and in the end wins his recognition. It was fantastic. When I should sum up the whole thing: I was in the company of a great artist, watched his fingers, his mouth and the way he was forming words. A top-class lesson, having the chance to watch the master at work. It is hard to explain, how much you can learn in such a situation, just to watch a great artist. But it is unbelievable how much you learn. I literally sucked in the information. I was 21 or 22 years old, open and absorbed everything. And I am sure that he wasn’t aware of how much he gave me. But I still live on today from what he gave me then. And “Yes” ­ I would love to do an album with him.