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July 29, 2009 12:40 PM   Subscribe

Van Morrison loses it on stage. An analysis by Geoffrey K. Pullum

Just one of about a billion reasons I love Language Log. Language Log is much loved on MetaFilter. Quite a bit, actually.
posted by Shepherd (146 comments total) 12 users marked this as a favorite

 
That guy way, WAY overthinks a plate of beans. :)
posted by zarq at 12:45 PM on July 29, 2009 [1 favorite]


Van Morrison loses it on stage
no news here.
posted by msconduct at 12:46 PM on July 29, 2009 [1 favorite]


Is it the inevitable fate of all long-time performers to lose all power of enunciation?
posted by fatbird at 12:47 PM on July 29, 2009


I'm putting this on a t-shirt.
posted by permafrost at 12:47 PM on July 29, 2009 [37 favorites]


I'm with the singer here, not the petty pedant.
posted by cogneuro at 12:49 PM on July 29, 2009 [4 favorites]


His bare, strained voice appeals to me not at all,

Incredible phrasing, influenced by Jackie Wilson and great early soul singers? ... most people would disagree with that opinion. So SFTU
posted by celerystick at 12:49 PM on July 29, 2009 [3 favorites]


I think my favorite day of high school english ever was the day we discussed the fucking infix. For a high school kid, that's just unbefuckinglievably fun.
posted by rusty at 12:52 PM on July 29, 2009


Why does Avast! think that first link is malware?
posted by Roman Graves at 12:53 PM on July 29, 2009


I'm with the singer here, not the petty pedant.

"Petty Pedants" would be a good name for a rock group. Or a blog.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 12:55 PM on July 29, 2009


Why does Avast! think that first link is malware?

Mine went nuts, too.
posted by MegoSteve at 12:56 PM on July 29, 2009


...So SFTU

Sing From The Uvula?
posted by Balonious Assault at 12:56 PM on July 29, 2009 [7 favorites]


Why does Avast! think that first link is malware?

I swear to God it's just a link to vanmorrison dot com, nothing sinister. Weird. Maybe Van Morrison pissed off the Czech Republic somehow.
posted by Shepherd at 12:58 PM on July 29, 2009


that guy way, WAY overthinks a plate of beans

That's pretty much the definition of linguistics.

Truth be told, it's pretty much the definition of academia in general.
posted by dersins at 1:00 PM on July 29, 2009 [4 favorites]


[I changed the first link to wikipedia, since, and man does this entertain me for some reason, vanmorrisson.com has been hacked by Russians and is serving up a hidden iframe courtesy of xq0.ru.]
posted by cortex at 1:02 PM on July 29, 2009 [8 favorites]


Van's an original punk. He built his career on never doing anything that didn't satisfy his inner directives. So "shut the fuck up" is just an honest expression of where he's coming from, where he is, where he's always been going.

As for the analysis, Mr. Pullum needs a holiday in Somalia.
posted by philip-random at 1:04 PM on July 29, 2009 [2 favorites]


Pullum literally sucks the music out of the room. Something of which I'm sure he's more than a little proud.
posted by tommasz at 1:05 PM on July 29, 2009 [2 favorites]


The first link has a hidden load in from a site called xq0.ru, which froze my computer for about 5 minutes. Grrr. (or, what cortex said, upon preview)

So what happened after he spoke? Which links contains that info? I don't feel like clicking on any of them now. I've seen him twice in concert and he didn't say a word either time so even getting the verbal bird flip would be an improvement over stone cold silence.
posted by iconomy at 1:05 PM on July 29, 2009


vanmorrisson.com has been hacked by Russians

up the fucking shut fuck!
posted by Potomac Avenue at 1:06 PM on July 29, 2009 [6 favorites]


So for those of us who tried the first link and had it grind our systems to a halt, apparently due to said hacking, do we need to take any further repair stops beyond rebooting?
posted by msalt at 1:06 PM on July 29, 2009


c\steps\stops
posted by msalt at 1:07 PM on July 29, 2009


Damn, I got that wrong too! you know what I mena.
posted by msalt at 1:08 PM on July 29, 2009


In russia, the fuck shuts you up.
posted by dersins at 1:09 PM on July 29, 2009 [20 favorites]


Why the hate on the author? Who cares what you or he think about Van Morrison--I don't have an opinion one way or the other--it's a brilliant and funny bit of linguistic analysis. The truly interesting part to me is how such turns of phrases come quite naturally--and are just as easily interpreted by the audience--but in fact tend to have a complex and unexpected structure.
posted by kjh at 1:09 PM on July 29, 2009 [3 favorites]


I too despised the music of Mr. Morrison until I heard his 1967 album fulfilling his contractual obligation to Bang Records. Unfortunately the songs are no longer posted. Magic. Pure magic. Still hat ethe rest of his music though. At least my wife and I can both say we like VM music. I like that record and she likes the rest of his crap.

By most standards, I have worse taste in music.
posted by Seamus at 1:10 PM on July 29, 2009


MetaFilter: Shut Fuck The Up. You know what I mena.
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 1:10 PM on July 29, 2009 [1 favorite]


I'm putting this on a t-shirt.

I have my Paypal out and I'm looking for an Order Now button.
posted by rokusan at 1:12 PM on July 29, 2009 [3 favorites]


I saw part of the first link before getting bored with the various stops and starts. It was to the recent Hollywood Bowl version of Sweet Thing, which bluntly, wasn't near as clear, concise, evocative, good as the Astral Weeks original; just more of the heartfelt slurring that is all too common with latter day Van.
posted by philip-random at 1:12 PM on July 29, 2009


http://www.furious.com/perfect/jakeholmes.html

WS: Do you remember your extended run with Van Morrison at The Bitter End in '67?

[Jake Holmes]: (Irish accent) Do I have the stories for you there, me lad! (chuckling mischievously) We worked with Van at The Bitter End. He had this pick-up band. Charlie Brown and this drummer . . . they were flat-out freaks. They were total drug-crazed people. He decided he was going to get three backup singers. So he hired three black Bronx girls who had never been in The Village before in their life. They didn't know anything about rock n roll or folk music. They were R & B backup singers.

Van had apparently gotten enamoured with The Who. And there he is on stage doing "T.B. Sheets" and he's knocking the glasses off the tables in the front with his feet. He's kicking the microphone stand over. He's smashing into the drum set, crashing into everything. He's taking the microphone . . . and these girls are in the background singing (sings in high falsetto) "Oww, T.B. sheets!" . . . and he's swinging the microphone over his head and it's missing . . . Charlie Brown and the drummer could care less . . . but he's swinging the microphone over the girls' heads and they're ducking and their eyes are getting bigger and bigger. They don't know what the hell's going on. What is this guy doing? They finally look at each other and go off stage. Van keeps on with "T.B. Sheets," screaming and yelling and kicking and breaking shit and just going nuts.

The girls go in the back. I'm sitting in the back of The Bitter End and all of a sudden these girls come out, it was in the winter time, in their fur coats and they walk past the table and I hear one of them say to the other two "That motherfucker's crazy!" All the while Van's still doing "T.B. Sheets." It was one of the funniest moments in my life.

posted by anazgnos at 1:13 PM on July 29, 2009 [9 favorites]


That's it? I wouldn't call that "losing it on stage".
posted by Liquidwolf at 1:15 PM on July 29, 2009 [1 favorite]


From languagelog: is being used as an pleonastic

That's just a simple error, right? I fear I'm missing something if it isn't.
posted by preparat at 1:16 PM on July 29, 2009


"I will leave the comments area open below, but fucking try to exhibit some fucking phraseological delicacy."

That should replace the MetaFilter warning above Post Comment that at present says something about a healthy, respectful blah blah blah...
posted by rokusan at 1:17 PM on July 29, 2009


As far as stage flip-outs go, this one's not even a big one. Van didn't storm off or refuse to continue until the fan was thrown out. He didn't even chuck a bottle at the fan, Sebastian Bach style.

That said, though, I am thoroughly amused by the subsequent overthink. The choice to diagram such a beautiful and delicate example of the English language was a very risky decision indeed, akin to dissecting a butterfly just to see what makes it so beautiful. Thankfully the final analysis provided elucidation without destroying the beauty and simplicity of the original statement. Fucking shut the fuck up, indeed.
posted by Spatch at 1:18 PM on July 29, 2009 [1 favorite]


vanmorrisson.com has been hacked by Russians

That is the funniest thing I've read all day.
posted by nola at 1:18 PM on July 29, 2009 [2 favorites]


I usually have coffee in a small place every morning. The place is owned by a Nam vet, with PTSD, and some of his pals come in and out during my time there. They seem unable to compete one full sentence without a fucking this or fucking that...and that (fucking) reminds me of Norman Mailer's first big novel, THE NAKED AND THE DEAD, in which, to capture the authenticiity of G.I.s, he used the word "fug" because "fuck" was not to be used in print at that time. Now the word is like blue jeans: a sure sign that you are of the people and not some fucking elitist.
posted by Postroad at 1:18 PM on July 29, 2009 [1 favorite]


...So SFTU

Sing From The Uvula?


Stop Fustigating The Ulsterman!
posted by $0up at 1:18 PM on July 29, 2009


vanmorrisson.com has been hacked by Russians

The Russia wants to eat us alive. The Russia's power mad. Her wants to grab Chicago. Her needs a Red Readers' Digest.
posted by rokusan at 1:19 PM on July 29, 2009 [3 favorites]


Fucking grind the fuck out of that axe!
posted by HumuloneRanger at 1:21 PM on July 29, 2009


I too despised the music of Mr. Morrison

I'm not a big fan of his but a friend got me hooked on Veedon Fleece. It's become one of my favorite albums by anyone. I also like every second track on Astral Weeks. I can do without the rest of his catalog though.
posted by You Should See the Other Guy at 1:25 PM on July 29, 2009


Tupelo Honey was a freaking brilliant record. For me it stands out in VM's oeuvre far above the rest.

Pullum's bit represents the risks of trying to translate linguistics into cocktail party stuff, as has in the past (see; Deborah Tannen, Stephen Pinker, etc.). It's so easy to amaze with technical apparatus, but so hard to make a non-trivial point without a theoretical context.
posted by fourcheesemac at 1:27 PM on July 29, 2009 [1 favorite]


My Internets lit up like a Christmas tree when I hit that Van Morrison site. I'm glad that Firefox and Cortex are working hand-in-hand to keep us safe from harm.

Thank you, Firefox and Cortex.
posted by Avenger at 1:28 PM on July 29, 2009 [4 favorites]


I'm with the singer here, not the petty pedant.

Me, too. I wish all the "We love you, [performer]!" imbeciles at concerts would fucking shut the fuck up.
posted by timeistight at 1:29 PM on July 29, 2009


And yeah, Van Morrison could sing the phone book with a burning cigar stuck in his larynx and his phrasing alone would be worth the money.
posted by fourcheesemac at 1:29 PM on July 29, 2009 [1 favorite]


Not to derail, but the mybeatclub.com link in the languagelog comments is brilliant. Watching the stupendously bad Amanda Lear - The Stud right now!
posted by tellurian at 1:30 PM on July 29, 2009


vanmorrisson.com has been hacked by Russians

They're just jealous that Van went to the Moondance and they didn't.
posted by wendell at 1:35 PM on July 29, 2009


So I guess this also rules out a requests to play Freebird?
posted by FuManchu at 1:36 PM on July 29, 2009


Pullum literally sucks the music out of the room.

TFTFY
posted by doctor_negative at 1:39 PM on July 29, 2009


posted by Avenger Thank you, Firefox and Cortex.

Firetex? or Corfox? or Josh Millzilla?
posted by mattdidthat at 1:47 PM on July 29, 2009 [1 favorite]


I was pleased to find the one other person who dislikes Van Morrisson's singing.

Now we are two!
posted by everichon at 1:47 PM on July 29, 2009


In Russia, the fucking shuts you!

Wait... I'll come in again.
posted by Devils Rancher at 1:47 PM on July 29, 2009


I'm glad that Firefox and Cortex are working hand-in-hand

Is there a Cortex plugin for FF?
posted by kingbenny at 1:48 PM on July 29, 2009


On preview -- never leave a window open for an hour, then comment. Shoot me.
posted by Devils Rancher at 1:48 PM on July 29, 2009


Or what mattdidthat said.
posted by kingbenny at 1:50 PM on July 29, 2009


That Van. He fucking lost it?

(I am Van's biggest fan, probably.)
posted by Benny Andajetz at 1:52 PM on July 29, 2009


Josh Millzilla?

Josh Mozillard.
posted by SpiffyRob at 1:58 PM on July 29, 2009 [6 favorites]


Why the hate on the author? Who cares what you or he think about Van Morrison--I don't have an opinion one way or the other--it's a brilliant and funny bit of linguistic analysis.

Because the author put Van Morrison in his first paragraph and proceeded to pointlessly slag on his music instead of heading straight to his brilliant bit of linguistic analysis?
posted by blucevalo at 1:58 PM on July 29, 2009 [1 favorite]


Pullum doesn't like van Morrison's music. I dont' either, but a lot of smart people do. (I'm not a Bruce Springsteen fan, but several of my friends are. Good for them.)

Who cares. The post starts with a personal anecdote and then moves on to a slightly jokey analysis of the comment Morrison made on stage. I found it amusing, and I enjoyed many of the comments.

(I also like Pullum's faux grumpiness, but to each his own.)
posted by Dumsnill at 2:04 PM on July 29, 2009 [1 favorite]


All right if I bore you all with a VM anecdote?

No.

I will anyway.

Way back then (the good old days = early sixties) I got home from work. I was a
stevedore in Stockholm. And in the kitchen was my then wife and a bunch of small darkhaired Belfast lads drinking tea. Turns out it was band called Them in town to promote their hit "Here Comes the Night" The singer noting my muscular appearance asked me where I worked out.
An expression I'd never heard before.
Undaunted, I surmised that as work entailed unloading ships and it indubitably took place outside - I worked out in the harbour.
Van took it all in his stride. Perhaps the tea ....

I do like some of his stuff though. Now I know who he is.

There - that was quite painless, wasnt it?
posted by jan murray at 2:04 PM on July 29, 2009 [12 favorites]


No method, no guru, no teacher.
posted by Smedleyman at 2:07 PM on July 29, 2009


(On the article - all I have to say is if a Burmese python does get into a maternity ward everything is secondary to the imperatives)
posted by Smedleyman at 2:09 PM on July 29, 2009 [1 favorite]


I would like to thank Russian hackers for making my admittedly kind of weak post about 10,000% MORE AWESOME.
posted by Shepherd at 2:16 PM on July 29, 2009 [1 favorite]


vanmorrisson.com has been hacked by Russians

That's what happens when Sarah Palin's no longer keeping an eye on Russia.
posted by kirkaracha at 2:30 PM on July 29, 2009


Oh man, now I'll have to go upstairs and dig out "Who's Grumpy?", my boot compilation CD of Van's many, many onstage flameouts. I believe it came to me in a twofer along with a mess of Roger Waters engaging in various batshitinsane digressions.
posted by FelliniBlank at 2:35 PM on July 29, 2009


> I'm with the singer here, not the petty pedant.

> As for the analysis, Mr. Pullum needs a holiday in Somalia.

> Pullum literally sucks the music out of the room.

What the fuck is wrong with you people? "Ooh, that mean Professor Pullum said something bad about a musician, he must be a petty pedant and hate music!" Geoff Pullum has a carefully crafted curmudgeon persona and is indeed a professor, but as you would know if you'd read a few comments down in the Language Log thread (specifically, to J. W. Brewer's first comment) he was also a member of a rock band in the '60s. To quote his online biography:
Menial jobs in an industrial laundry and a London bookstore made it look like perhaps there was no further to fall careerwise, but he found a way: he became a piano player in a rock 'n' roll band, Sonny Stewart and the Dynamos, working around Germany doing residencies in bars, nightclubs, and American air bases. After a year and a half he returned to England to join his high school friend, guitarist Pete Gage, in forming a soul band: Geno Washington and the Ram Jam Band. The Ram Jam Band travelled all over Britain, appeared on the same bill with artists like the Kinks, the Rolling Stones, Rufus ("Walking the Dog") Thomas, and others. They and had some recording success in the middle 1960s. But the tedium of life on the road as a rock musician was ultimately unendurable, and after the break-up of the original Ram Jam Band in 1967, Geoff headed for the glamour and excitement of becoming a linguist.
He's cooler than the lot of you put together, so fucking shut the fuck up.
posted by languagehat at 2:57 PM on July 29, 2009 [18 favorites]


As long as we're trading Van Morrison anecdotes (this one isn't even firsthand)...

Years back, I attended a lecture by Fred Woodward, then most famous for his art direction of Rolling Stone. He showed a slide of a spread he'd designed for a Van Morrison article, and he said the reason it looked the way it did was because Van insisted that he wouldn't sit for a photo shoot, that the photographer had to shoot him during the interview. When the interviewer and photographer showed up to the chosen location (a pub), he then insisted that the photographer couldn't even be in the same room, that he had to shoot through the window of the pub. This was the result (Matt Mahurin was the photographer).

In short, there's more to dislike about Van than his music.
posted by carrienation at 3:03 PM on July 29, 2009



I was pleased to find the one other person who dislikes Van Morrisson's singing.

Now we are two!


Actually, there's a whole bunch of you. But you're all wrong.

Also, I should point out, previous Astral Weekishness ...
posted by philip-random at 3:05 PM on July 29, 2009


I think he views the incident as just a disarmingly inappropriate verbal symptom of Van the Man's well-known shyness and stage fright

I've been known for shyness when people cut me off on the freeway.
posted by thisperon at 3:09 PM on July 29, 2009


If I were to have a go at hacking vanmorrison.com, the first password I'd try would be g-l-o-r-i-a.
posted by sageleaf at 3:26 PM on July 29, 2009 [3 favorites]


I once offered to put five dollars in the tips jar at the Stevenson College Coffee House at UC Santa Cruz if they would stop playing the Van Morrison CD they had put on. They did, and I did.
I wish I was there. Such action calls for a tipping war.
posted by Flunkie at 3:26 PM on July 29, 2009


van morrison blows...
posted by frankbooth at 3:38 PM on July 29, 2009


He's cooler than the lot of you put together, so fucking shut the fuck up.

I am going to shut the fuck up and listen rapturously to Into The Mystic. Nyaaa.

Well, that is, until I can no longer resist the urge to sing along. How can someone hate that song?
posted by Devils Rancher at 3:41 PM on July 29, 2009


It's mildly disturbing/embarrassing to me how easily I parsed that sentence as valid.
posted by Hardcore Poser at 3:49 PM on July 29, 2009


Funny! Synctactician tries to make every day speech fit his pre-fab rules. Good one.
posted by Mental Wimp at 4:09 PM on July 29, 2009


Too many hustlers, i've been here before
None of them really know whose jscript that you are
Everything gets contracted and disk space gets tight
They're playing Russian roulette with your site

posted by benzenedream at 4:23 PM on July 29, 2009


related: Thom Yorke tells a Vancouverite to STFU. Good riddance.
posted by ageispolis at 4:31 PM on July 29, 2009


I too despised the music of Mr. Morrison until I heard his 1967 album fulfilling his contractual obligation to Bang Records. Unfortunately the songs are no longer posted. Magic. Pure magic.

How I love this stuff. Though his work with Them was okay, I too can't fucking stand Morrison's solo output. But the Bang Records Sessions are pretty damn special.

Oh yeah: BEHOLD THE POWER OF THE WAYBACK MACHINE!
posted by item at 4:38 PM on July 29, 2009 [10 favorites]


A great and hilarious bit of geeking out on linguistic syntax is being hated on?

Funny! Synctactician tries to make every day speech fit his pre-fab rules. Good one.

Hey genius! Linguists create their rules *based on* everyday speech. Doh?

FUCKING DUDE WHAT THE FUCK HAPPENED TO MEFI?!
posted by Non Prosequitur at 4:50 PM on July 29, 2009 [5 favorites]


Oh yeah: BEHOLD THE POWER OF THE WAYBACK MACHINE!

I regret that I have but one favorite to give.
posted by rigby51 at 5:04 PM on July 29, 2009


> Oh yeah: BEHOLD THE POWER OF THE WAYBACK MACHINE!

I didn't expect those links to work, but they do, they do. Thank you so much. (And what rigby51 said.)
posted by languagehat at 5:13 PM on July 29, 2009


Funny! Synctactician tries to make every day speech fit his pre-fab rules. Good one.

Every once in a while I'm reminded of just how spot-on the Marshall McLuhan scene from Annie Hall was.
posted by cortex at 5:16 PM on July 29, 2009 [3 favorites]


I can see by the look on your face
That you've got ringworm

I'm very sorry but
I have to tell you that
You've got
Ringworm

It's a very common disease

Actually you're very lucky to have
Ringworm
Cause you may have
Had something else

Wooooooh ahhhhh

Annnnnnnnnhhhhhhhhh

You've got ringworm

GENIUS
posted by Flunkie at 5:42 PM on July 29, 2009 [1 favorite]



Van's beef with the Russians goes back a loooong way.
posted by Flashman at 5:50 PM on July 29, 2009


I too am not a member of the Church of Van. I like the timbre of his voice, and I think he's written some good tunes (Brown Eyed Girl, amirite?), but the samey-ness of his melodic lines has always meant that I could only take him in very small doses. His vocal melodies always seem to have more or less the same shape, he's always utilizing that characteristic descending pattern as a vocal riff. In that way, I feel he's a bit of a lazy songwriter.

He's one of those iconic figures, though, so fiercely loved by so many diehard fans around the world... obviously that one sort of vocal riff he has works for a LOT of people. And hey, that's good for those people, and it's certainly good for ol' Van, so more power to him.

As far as the linked essay on the grammar of shut the fuck up, I thought it was pretty amusing, and I thought the author pretty clearly intended it to be amusing. People who are put off by it because the author chose Van Morrison's particular STFU as a starting point are displaying a certain lack of a sense of humor as concerns their idol, which is unfortunate. I have a feeling Van himself might find the article to be at least chuckle-worthy. That is, if he could pull himself out of his Guinness/Jameson-induced stupor long enough to read something.

*runs away from angry, shouting, pitchfork-wielding mob of Morrison devotees
posted by flapjax at midnite at 5:51 PM on July 29, 2009 [2 favorites]


I too am not a member of the Church of Van. I like the timbre of his voice, and I think he's written some good tunes (Brown Eyed Girl, amirite?), but the samey-ness of his melodic lines has always meant that I could only take him in very small doses. His vocal melodies always seem to have more or less the same shape, he's always utilizing that characteristic descending pattern as a vocal riff. In that way, I feel he's a bit of a lazy songwriter.

The fact that he's the man behind this forgives a multitude of sins, I think.
posted by jonmc at 6:05 PM on July 29, 2009


All right, this is as good a place as any to ask something that's been nagging at me for a long time:

The chorus to Van Morrison's "And It Stoned Me" contains the line "Stoned me just like jelly roll".

So, my question is: What?
posted by Flunkie at 6:10 PM on July 29, 2009


I think he's referring to this man. Morrison's always been really big on giving shoutouts to his influences.
posted by jonmc at 6:16 PM on July 29, 2009


Jesus died for somebody's sins, but not Van's.
posted by maudlin at 6:18 PM on July 29, 2009


So, my question is: What?

Dude. Donuts. STFU.

(jonmc is probably right)
posted by Devils Rancher at 6:20 PM on July 29, 2009


The chorus to Van Morrison's "And It Stoned Me" contains the line "Stoned me just like jelly roll".

I think he's referring to this man


"Jelly roll", of course, is an old blues/early jazz multipurpose euphemism for human reproductive organs, or lover/sexual interest, or just sex. So Van could've been referring to that. BUT... in FACT... jonmc is CORRECT!! (ta-daaaah!) Because in the printed song lyrics "Jelly Roll" is capitalized, almost certainly and clearly referring to the name of Jelly Roll Morton.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 6:36 PM on July 29, 2009


Van's an original punk.

It's really true, y'all. Check out the sneering vocal and evil lead guitar on Them's "One Two Brown Eyes" and marvel that it's from motherfucking 1964. A groovy snide psychedelic gem way before most other folks were thinking the same way.

flapjax: the samey-ness of his melodic lines has always meant that I could only take him in very small doses

Really? What have you listened to? Because Astral Weeks seems to me full of jazzy, open, fluid melodic lines that are utterly fascinating to listen to again and again. And I'm sorry, languagehat, anyone who says "I happen to detest Van Morrison's music" without explaining what they've heard beyond his overplayed hits is acting like a moron, and deserves any scorn aimed his way.
posted by mediareport at 6:45 PM on July 29, 2009 [2 favorites]


I'm putting this on a t-shirt.

I have my Paypal out and I'm looking for an Order Now button.


Yes, please take my money.
posted by intermod at 6:56 PM on July 29, 2009


VAN MORRISON - briefly -

the man's on a journey; he fronted THEM; he got ripped off repeatedly; he went solo, got ripped off horribly again, which pretty much soured him forever; reinvented pretty much everything with ASTRAL WEEKS; never really had to answer to anyone ever again after that (and Brown Eyed Girl) ... and so what you get is what you get, a perpetual adolescent who doesn't really have to answer to anyone, on a mystical, horny, romantic, poetic journey who has outlasted ALL of his contemporaries in terms of recorded relevance ... except Bob Dylan.
posted by philip-random at 7:11 PM on July 29, 2009 [1 favorite]


On your recommendation, mediareport, I'll try to get ahold of a copy of Astral Weeks and listen again. Admittedly, it's been years. Have to say, though, that a quick listen to this YT clip of Van live, doing Sweet Thing from Astral Weeks is essentially a textbook example of what I'm talking about: every single line pretty much does that VM descending thing: the VM riff, which is fine and all, but doesn't really coalesce, for me, into a unified melodic statement. It just sounds like more VM riffing. Which, don't misunderstand me, I don't hate or anything, but, like I said before, I only need in small doses.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 7:15 PM on July 29, 2009


actually, AFAIK, Jelly Roll is a jazzbo euphamism for weed- thus, "it stoned me just like jelly roll."
van morrison still blows, chunks in fact... i think he needs a hug...
posted by frankbooth at 7:18 PM on July 29, 2009


This linguist is trying to apply rules to Northern Irish speech? Ha! What a load of shite. We say "amn't I?" for fuck's sake.

As a Norn Ironer, I think that this gobshite should fucking shut the fuck up.
posted by knapah at 7:34 PM on July 29, 2009


He plays with repetition, flapjax, sure, but I know you love that sweet, soulful stuff and his early Warner albums are chock full of that shit. How anyone could not hear the pure religion in most of the songs off Moondance (the horns on the deliciously poppy "Glad Tidings" should be all the evidence you need) is completely baffling to me.

I can only guess that early on you got on the wrong track listening to him, and it's far past the time you corrected that mistake.
posted by mediareport at 7:37 PM on July 29, 2009


Norman Mailer's first big novel, THE NAKED AND THE DEAD, in which, to capture the authenticiity of G.I.s, he used the word "fug" because "fuck" was not to be used in print at that time.

Thus leading to Dorothy Parker's immortal quip, upon being introduced to Mailer, "So you're the young man who can't spell fuck". *

*sometimes attributed to Tallulah Bankhead, or Hedy Lamarr

Van Morrison wrote Into the Mystic and Moondance. I know that I show completely predictable taste in this, but those two songs alone would have been enough for semi-sainthood in my book.
posted by jokeefe at 7:48 PM on July 29, 2009 [1 favorite]


I too despised the music of Mr. Morrison

I used to love Styx and hate punk rock. Man, it's great being wrong.
posted by philip-random at 7:49 PM on July 29, 2009


anyone who says "I happen to detest Van Morrison's music" without explaining what they've heard beyond his overplayed hits is acting like a moron, and deserves any scorn aimed his way.

It's not okay to just dislike something? To find something boring? Annoying?

You did read the thing, right?
posted by Dumsnill at 7:53 PM on July 29, 2009


This linguist is trying to apply rules to Northern Irish speech?

People from Northern Ireland live in an alternate dimension unmoored from the general neurolinguistic mechanisms on which all other humans anywhere on the planet operate? The Northern Irish are hyperidiomatic to the point where their speech is consistently indecipherable nonsense, literally without form?

What exactly are you trying to gladly claim, here? It'd be one thing to say "ah, Pullum is clearly not familiar with this specific wrinkle of N. Irish speech (or Van Morrison's specific idiolect); here's what's actually going on (or at least some sort of argument, any argument at all, that his analysis is flawed)", but your complaint, and that of a few other people in the thread as well, seems to be something more like "HA HA LINGUISTICS ARE DUMB", which is less than compelling.
posted by cortex at 8:11 PM on July 29, 2009 [2 favorites]


It's not okay to just dislike something? To find something boring? Annoying?

Yes, it's perfectly fine. To be ignorant and wrong. Happens all the time.
posted by flotson at 8:19 PM on July 29, 2009 [1 favorite]



Yes, it's perfectly fine. To be ignorant and wrong. Happens all the time.

But I'm not wrong. I just... I don't...

Damn you and all your arguments!
posted by Dumsnill at 8:32 PM on July 29, 2009


This linguist is trying to apply rules to Northern Irish speech? Ha! What a load of shite. We say "amn't I?" for fuck's sake.

That... would be a rule, then, wouldn't it.
posted by Casuistry at 10:19 PM on July 29, 2009 [1 favorite]


I have my Paypal out and I'm looking for an Order Now button.

This sounds to me like Sex 2.0, and there's nothing wrong with that.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 10:19 PM on July 29, 2009


All I can contribute to this discussion is that I've got about 380GB of rock music digitized on my systems, and on the rare occasion I feel like listening to any of it, Van pops up, more than I'd like to admit...
posted by paulsc at 11:00 PM on July 29, 2009


Ah, drunken posting at 3.34am leads to trying to make a joke in a linguistics thread. A sensitive subject apparently. I'll get the fuck out of here then.
posted by knapah at 3:23 AM on July 30, 2009


I'll get the fuck out of here then.

Yeah, and stay the fuck out. Our we'll send Van Morrison over to kick yer ass.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 3:31 AM on July 30, 2009


Morrison's phrasing is not so brilliant at the line by line level, flapjax. It's imitative -- I say more Otis Redding than Jackie Wilson, no matter what others think.

But it's his ability to control the energy flow across an entire -- long -- song that gets me. There have been very few (certainly, white) soul singers who approach his command of a song's overall melodic arch. Check out the title track from Tupelo Honey for what I mean. (Or any other song on that record, which is why it's my favorite, also for the incredibly loose groove of the band.)
posted by fourcheesemac at 5:20 AM on July 30, 2009


Good point, fourcheesemac. Between you and mediareport, I'm beginning to rethink Van Morrison. Gonna start relistening to some stuff I sorta wrote off years ago.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 5:25 AM on July 30, 2009


I like Van Morrison. I used to do an instrumental medley of Moondance mixed with Summertime. It's amazing how the two songs can really flow in and out of one another.

I also really like LanguageLog.

That is all.
posted by lazaruslong at 5:50 AM on July 30, 2009


The Northern Irish are hyperidiomatic to the point where their speech is consistently indecipherable nonsense, literally without form?

After a couple of pints? Absolutely.
posted by minifigs at 6:04 AM on July 30, 2009


His bare, strained voice appeals to me not at all[...]
Cannot possibly agree more. Spasming your jaw and going "nuhnuhnuhnuh" is not a great and/or classic vocal fill. When did Jackie Wilson do that?

Oh, yeah. Never.
posted by littlerobothead at 6:06 AM on July 30, 2009


But it's his ability to control the energy flow across an entire -- long -- song that gets me

A comparatively recent example of something or other.
posted by philip-random at 7:45 AM on July 30, 2009


He's cooler than the lot of you put together, so fucking shut the fuck up.

Third-rate has-been musician rags on vastly-superior musician? What's so cool about that?
posted by Halloween Jack at 7:56 AM on July 30, 2009 [1 favorite]


I've got about 380GB of rock music digitized on my systems

Never has a statement made me feel more compelled to immediately go play a stack of crackly 45s.
posted by FelliniBlank at 7:59 AM on July 30, 2009


> And I'm sorry, languagehat, anyone who says "I happen to detest Van Morrison's music" without explaining what they've heard beyond his overplayed hits is acting like a moron, and deserves any scorn aimed his way.

Lazy dismissal from arrogant MeFite. Film at eleven.
posted by languagehat at 8:02 AM on July 30, 2009


> Third-rate has-been musician rags on vastly-superior musician? What's so cool about that?

Lazy dismissal from arrogant MeFite. Film at eleven.
posted by languagehat at 8:03 AM on July 30, 2009


...the fuck[sic] is being used as ***an*** pleonastic (semantically empty)

Oh, he did not say that! And what the hell is an NP? He uses the abbreviation, but I can't see where he defines it.
posted by Mental Wimp at 9:21 AM on July 30, 2009


Noun phrase, and have you never made a typo? Jesus.
posted by languagehat at 9:38 AM on July 30, 2009


Lazy dismissal from arrogant MeFite. Film at eleven.

At this rate they'll be running this b-roll material until they play the national anthem.

Also, if MeFi had macros, this should be one of them.
posted by GuyZero at 10:11 AM on July 30, 2009


Lazy dismissal from arrogant MeFite. Film at eleven.

Rubber, glue, &c.
posted by Halloween Jack at 12:55 PM on July 30, 2009


Your favourite linguist sucks.
posted by timeistight at 2:47 PM on July 30, 2009


Noun phrase, and have you never made a typo? Jesus.

Why, yes. Yes, I have. And don't call me Jesus.
posted by Mental Wimp at 2:59 PM on July 30, 2009


here is what I know of Van Morrison:

1. The Patty Smith cover of Gloria.
2. Brown Eyed Girl
3. That horrific cover of "Wild Night" by John Cougar Mellencamp and Michelle N'dgeocello (apologies for any misspelling.) never heard the original.
4. The Astral Weeks album.

Numbers 2 and 3 I hate, but the amount of sheer unadulterated love I have for numbers 1 and 4 so far outweigh that hatred that it might as well not exist. I have been known, during karaoke (with which I am obsessed), to resist being wrestled to the ground in order to put Van's Sweet Thing in the queue while drunk so that when called I can sleepily warble what to my ears sounds like a tender refrain but to everyone else is shrill screeching hell. I do this without remorse, even when I later sober up. I have spent, as has mostly everybody else, my requisite time kicking dirt around and clenching my fists in my pockets as I listen to Astral Weeks on repeat and mutter to myself about some girl or other. My girlfriend now knows all of the words to The Way Young Lovers Do (albeit without any clear idea of the correct melody) simply because I sing it that often, and that loudly, in the shower. I have been laughed at going into a bar because I made the unfortunate decision to park in front of the bar just as Patty Smith's cover of Gloria came on and sat there in front of the bar during the entire song banging my fists on the roof to the beat. I believe I can safely call myself a fan.

That said, that article was pretty awesome, and Mr. Pullum is welcome to say whatever he wants about the man.
posted by shmegegge at 4:07 PM on July 30, 2009


I'm still sort of reeling from the discovery that not everyone owns an oft-played LP of Veedon Fleece. Go figure.
posted by FelliniBlank at 4:12 PM on July 30, 2009 [2 favorites]


Lazy dismissal from arrogant MeFite. Film at eleven.

It's silly to argue this, languagehat, but lord knows we both love to argue. I'm making the claim that your pal is the one who's made the lazy dismissal. I'm making the claim that a thoughtful person should back up a critical statement like "I detest X" with at least some background about how much of X they've actually sampled.

Right now, I'd guess your pal's only sampled a few bits that have been overplayed to death on mainstream radio, which, I'd suggest, would make him supremely unqualified to pass lazy summary judgment on Van Morrison's artistic output. Even if that's wrong, the laziness of *his* dismissal is crystal clear.

Mine, not so much.
posted by mediareport at 4:21 PM on July 30, 2009


*raises hand*

Although it hasn't been played on the turntable for ages, it continues to play in my mind. And iTunes. Forgive me.
posted by maudlin at 4:21 PM on July 30, 2009


> It's silly to argue this, languagehat, but lord knows we both love to argue.

So, so true!

> I'm making the claim that a thoughtful person should back up a critical statement like "I detest X" with at least some background about how much of X they've actually sampled.

Well, that's certainly a reasonable attitude, and in many circumstances I'd agree with you, but considering that Pullum's dislike of VM is basically a throwaway few lines in a long post about grammar, and considering that Pullum loves nothing better than tweaking people (see his many over-the-top rants about Strunk and White), in this particular case I'd have to say you're barking the fuck up the wrong tree.
posted by languagehat at 4:27 PM on July 30, 2009


Obviously, I can't be mad at anyone who loves Van as much as you do. But, god help me, I do love the snark!
posted by languagehat at 4:28 PM on July 30, 2009


considering that Pullum loves nothing better than tweaking people

Sweetie, you're making my point for me. Mwa.
posted by mediareport at 4:56 PM on July 30, 2009


I did like the article a lot, though, and have been passing it around with the caveat that the guy doesn't know his ass from his elbow when it comes to quality in music, of course.
posted by mediareport at 4:58 PM on July 30, 2009


Premising the notion that Pullum is being lazily dismissive on the argument that his dismissiveness proves he's just not sufficiently familiar with Van Morrison's work is, I dunno, awfully flattering to Mr. Morrison, whose talent I cannot deny but whose music I don't really give a shit for either despite having heard a fair amount of it.

But beyond the distracting your-favorite-band-sucks-and-was-hacked-by-Russians argument, it's extending too much credit I think to the folks being lazily dismissive of linguistic analysis up thread to presume that their doing so was a carefully nuanced reflection of his dismissiveness rather than just plain bullshit posturing (with a maybe-there, maybe-not soupcon of self-awareness in some but I don't think all cases). Aside from which, Pullum's actually a published, professional snarkmonkey, something I'd feel worse about bringing into the argument if it wasn't following a few different variations of the equally-so-if-not-more ridiculous "I like Van Morrison, ergo that guy's essentially-Morrison-unrelated commentary on his academic specialty is bullshit" appeal to whatever the hell the term of art is for mistaking a difference of opinion about popular music for anything anybody gives a fiddling fuck about.

And yes, it is quite warm in Portland recently.

posted by cortex at 5:16 PM on July 30, 2009 [1 favorite]


awfully flattering to Mr. Morrison

Guilty as charged. But I never was part of the "I like Van Morrison, ergo that guy's essentially-Morrison-unrelated commentary on his academic specialty is bullshit" crowd. Those arrogant lazy fucks.

posted by mediareport at 5:22 PM on July 30, 2009 [1 favorite]


Ah, but you were clearly rebuking a rebuke of, in part, that line or argumentation, and so are tainted! The well has been poisoned! It is a terrible night for a crapdance!

Seriously, that it's only topping out at 99 degrees today is a huge improvement over yesterday and god dammit I'm built for rain and this is bullshit.

posted by cortex at 5:27 PM on July 30, 2009


I just want you to know that you are complaining about hot weather to a person living in North Carolina. At the end of July. Where walking outside at 4pm this afternoon was *exactly* like walking into the steam bath at the gym. I just want you to know that.
posted by mediareport at 6:32 PM on July 30, 2009


But, see, you live in North Carolina, where, as you imply, considerable summertime heat is a norm and where consumer A/C is probably as a consequence a great deal more ubiquitous than it is in Portland, where, too, we lack the advantage of acclimation.

It being hot in NC is like the sky being blue. It being hot in Portland is like being hit by a drunk driver. It being as hot as it has been for as long as it has been is like being repeatedly run over by that drunk driver as he tries and fails to parallel park.

posted by cortex at 7:37 PM on July 30, 2009


why are we all whispering?
posted by shmegegge at 7:57 PM on July 30, 2009


where consumer A/C is probably as a consequence a great deal more ubiquitous

A/C? Surely you jest. It's all about the box fans, man.

posted by mediareport at 8:09 PM on July 30, 2009


BOX FANS! It was friggin' 106 in Portland yesterday! and he says BOX FANS! What was the temp in North Molten Carolina, may I ask? And how is said fan going to help me in my ac-less '94 Subaru?
posted by msalt at 8:41 PM on July 30, 2009


A '94? Such luxury! Try driving a secondhand Popemobile with poor ventilation. A Subaru, I should have such problems...
posted by cortex at 8:48 PM on July 30, 2009


Oh it's just everyday 90-degree weather with 80% humidity down here. Standard July. August and September the humidity will get worse but the temps usually stay a bit below 100. Like I said, nothing a few box fans can't fix.
posted by mediareport at 9:10 PM on July 30, 2009


Raleigh, NC, current conditions: Humidity 79% at midnight
Portland, OR, current conditions: Humidity 49% at 9pm

My case, it is rested. BOX FANS 4EVAH.

posted by mediareport at 9:21 PM on July 30, 2009


OMG FUCKING SHUT THE FUCK UP WITH ALL THE WHISPERING
posted by iamkimiam at 10:29 PM on July 30, 2009


But I never was part of the "I like Van Morrison, ergo that guy's essentially-Morrison-unrelated commentary on his academic specialty is bullshit" crowd. Those arrogant lazy fucks.

I am guilty of dismissing Mr. Pullum, but, sincerely, it was not particularly motivated by my "love" of Van. Rather, I felt that the depth of his analysis was absurd (even for MetaFilter), hence the urge that he spend a few weeks in the worst f***ing place on the planet.

Not that I wish him any harm. I just think he needs a little perspective.
posted by philip-random at 11:02 PM on July 30, 2009


SORRY MULTIPLE CONSECUTIVE 106-DEGREE DAYS CLOUD PORTLANDERS' JUDGMENT. IT'S A KNOWN FACT THAT HAS BEEN SCIENTIFICALLY PROVEN IN TESTS

like this one
posted by dersins at 11:03 PM on July 30, 2009


Raleigh, NC, current conditions: Humidity 79% at midnight
Portland, OR, current conditions: Humidity 49% at 9pm
My case, it is rested. BOX FANS 4EVAH.


Yeah, well box fans don't work below 50% humidity. Did you ever think about THAT?
posted by msalt at 11:45 PM on July 30, 2009


!

?

.
posted by mediareport at 7:47 PM on July 31, 2009


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