Some interviews with Van Morrison
June 6, 2015 1:21 AM   Subscribe

Van has a reputation for being difficult. But as the man himself says, ‘People who say others are difficult are usually difficult themselves’.

Courtesy of a YouTube rabbit-hole I found myself falling into, here’s some interviews where he’s not at all difficult.

Van Morrison Philosphizing: Interview + Them Here comes the night
(1967 - 2/12 mins) On Dutch TV. Talking about going into a monastery!

Dick Clark Interviews Van Morrison - American Bandstand
(1967 - 38secs) Van doesn’t have a lot of spare time.

Orphanage, San Francisco
(1974 - 12mins) Van just chatting between sets with Tom Donahue. In a tshirt. Looking pretty happy and relaxed in the midst of his Marin County sojourn.

In Conversation and Music
(1988 - 51mins) Van Morrison in conversation with Derek Bell (Chieftains), Martin Lynch and Professor Bob Welch. The Blues, spirituality and poetry. Also academics talking a little too much. And Derek Bell kinda steals it in the best way.

Why Must I Always Explain
(1995 - 57mins) Great interview interspersed with some even greater moments from live performances. Delves into nostalgia and his compulsion to write songs and perform.

Candy Dulfer Interview with Van
(2007 - 14mins) This is the sweetest interview! His saxophone player makes him tea, asks some questions and, almost, teases him at times.

Cyprus Avenue - Fillmore East, New York
(1970 - 8mins) A bonus if you made it this far. Stunning live version of ‘Cyprus Avenue’ with a literal mic drop.
posted by maupuia (22 comments total) 29 users marked this as a favorite
Thanks for this, will be fun going through the links. Van The Man is a national treasure here even though he's well known for being a grumpy bastard. (Factoid: Cyprus Avenue is a real street in Belfast that inspired the song and my sister lived one street over for a few years. That's all I got.)
posted by billiebee at 3:08 AM on June 6, 2015 [1 favorite]

He should really take that SciAm quiz from yesterday.
posted by leotrotsky at 4:31 AM on June 6, 2015

...he's well known for being a grumpy bastard.

He's got a pretty un-grumpy attitude about people making videos using their own versions of songs he's written. "Just put in an attribution, and it's OK."

He doesn't have to do that, "synchronization" rights are often withheld.
posted by StickyCarpet at 6:33 AM on June 6, 2015 [1 favorite]

I think he's sorta right on that. The people always going on about how everyone is so full of drama tend to be the ones making the drama. Not that making drama is necessarily bad in itself, and sometimes it's just people have problems and they don't know how to express their frustration. Other times, there are people who thrive on it. Whatever. I never thought much of Van Morrison, except I did like Brown Eyed Girl. But then... I heard his Revenge Recordings with titles like:

“The Big Royalty Check”
“Ring Worm”
“Freaky If You Got This Far”
“Nose In Your Blow”

Etc... Though I suppose this just reinforces the "Van's difficult" thing.
posted by symbioid at 7:49 AM on June 6, 2015 [4 favorites]

While you were composing this post last night, I was watching 'The Last Waltz' and being amazed at the Van-Man and others - best concert film ever.
posted by growabrain at 8:28 AM on June 6, 2015 [3 favorites]

No Van, you *are* difficult. And overrated.
posted by GallonOfAlan at 9:14 AM on June 6, 2015

If you can find Van's performances on Saturday Night Live from the Wavelength era, he had a super tight little band. Neat drummer.

The version of Kingdom Hall was great. Sorry can't find it on youtube just now.
posted by Trochanter at 9:16 AM on June 6, 2015

It's too late to stop now...
posted by Mister Bijou at 9:26 AM on June 6, 2015 [1 favorite]

...he's well known for being a grumpy bastard.

Fifty years into his career and the man has still to release what I'd call a BAD record. Seriously, find one of his contemporaries from 1965 that you can say the same thing about. I'm inclined to think of the grumpiness as a feature, not a bug.

Great Post.
posted by philip-random at 9:34 AM on June 6, 2015 [6 favorites]

“Welcome to the grumpiest show in town.”.
The Man is a living legend. I have had the joy of listening to his music for 45 years ever since Astral Weeks.
Ilene Berns was an unmitigated bitch.
She inherited ownership of the label and Van´s contract. He was legally bound to Bang Records, so he wasn´t able to record during this time, and no clubs in New York would hire him for fear of reprisals from the label. Meanwhile, Ilene noticed that her now deceased husband hadn´t kept up with the paperwork to keep Van in America, so she reported Morrison to Immigration in an attempt to have him deported.
posted by adamvasco at 10:17 AM on June 6, 2015 [2 favorites]

A lot of great musicians and other kinds of artists have a reputation for being difficult. I think it's more a matter of them being perfectionists and other people seeing their perfectionism as nit picky. But it's that perfectionism which separates the great ones from the merely good.
posted by MexicanYenta at 10:33 AM on June 6, 2015 [1 favorite]

Thanks for the 1974 interview. Wish it happened 3 months later. The album he mentions as "coming out in October" is Veedon Fleece.

I own over 12k vinyl records -- off and on, all genres -- and in my opinion, it's the single greatest album anyone has ever made. It still has the ability to bring me to tears. It is a stunning, extraordinary work that has been my favorite since finding it 20+ years ago.
posted by You Should See the Other Guy at 11:15 AM on June 6, 2015 [9 favorites]

I think he's sorta right on that. The people always going on about how everyone is so full of drama tend to be the ones making the drama.

I think this confuses the maxim a bit. If you think that everyone else creates drama, it's likely you are the source of drama. If everyone else says that you create drama, you might want to give it a second listen. His comment seems to dismiss the second observation by referring to the first maxim.

That being said, sometimes people are a little bit difficult. *shrug*
posted by SpacemanStix at 12:56 PM on June 6, 2015

A friend (who is a big fan) saw Van Morrison in concert, and came away with a bit of a bad taste in his mouth.

Morrison was struggling with his drummer - either a new addition to the tour or a local sub - but his response was to visibly and audibly shout at the drummer during songs. Really damaged the vibe of the evening, and it wasn't as if the drummer was brutal or anything.

Stratospheric standards can be helpful in the studio, but can really hurt the live experience.
posted by AAALASTAIR at 1:06 PM on June 6, 2015

I’m regretting not picking up the vinyl copy of Veedon Fleece I saw on sale for £4 in a junkshop this morning, after reading You Should See the Other Guy’s assessment of it…

Also non-grumpy, apparently, was Morrison’s 1989 interview with Spike Milligan, which wasn’t filmed, alas - though the two were photographed together.
posted by misteraitch at 1:40 PM on June 6, 2015 [2 favorites]

Veedon Fleece is one of the only reasons I ever miss my turntable/vinyl- it just doesn't sound right elsewise. Go back for it, is my advice! I love Astral Weeks and St Dominic's Preview and I really like Moondance and even The Healing Game but there's something about that one that's just... from elsewhere. Like he dreamed it, or we all did.

Like somebody named McMoidart says in the youtube comments, on another video of this song -
What an enigma of a song, vocal performance is unbelievable, his masterpiece but it is way to short why could it not have been 15 minutes long. I will have to make do with lying on the floor in the dark and listening to it 7 times in a row.
Linden Arden Stole the Highlights

Pretty sure I've raved about this on metafilter before. Do I repeat myself? Then I repeat myself.
posted by hap_hazard at 2:15 PM on June 6, 2015

OMG! The second photo of Van and Spike Milligan that misteraitch linked to wins the internet for me today!
posted by maupuia at 2:28 PM on June 6, 2015 [1 favorite]

Morrison has appeared on Imus at least once, but I don't know if the interview is available.
posted by Beholder at 8:54 PM on June 6, 2015

Glen Hansard recounts his meeting with Van. Rather special. (SLYT)
posted by misterbee at 9:07 PM on June 7, 2015 [1 favorite]

previously ...

also ...
posted by philip-random at 12:10 AM on June 8, 2015

great - i am huge fan of Van The Man - The Belfast Cowboy
posted by Consultdustry at 5:18 PM on June 8, 2015

That's Sir Van to you.
posted by billiebee at 2:56 PM on June 12, 2015

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