Sunday, September 12, 2010

The Unfortunate Rake

Van Morrison doesn't have much of a voice anymore. Never really did. There's a strong possibility that he's the greatest songwriter of the last fifty years. Yes, I know all about Bob Dylan and Lieber and Stoller and King and Goffin and Bacharach and David and Holland-Dozier-Holland and the Liverpool fellows. Not one of Van's songs suffered because he was singing them --just the opposite-- because he knows how to sing.

You have to be a scholar first. Then you have to set the library you've built in your head on fire. Van's poking the embers right here, doing the best version of St. James Infirmary Blues I've ever heard. And yes, I've heard of Louis Armstrong and Cab Calloway and Billie Holiday and Bobby Blue Bland, and King Oliver...

16 comments:

Jean said...

When the soul is singing the voice doesn't matter so much.

misterarthur said...

No one can sing a vowel or a consonant like Van the Man. And Jean nailed it in her comment.

Joan of Argghh! said...

Phenomenal. In the correct use of the term.

Gagdad Bob said...

I don't know that you can even judge the voice. It's truly sui generis. I just know that no one else can do the things he does with the human voice. This occurred to me the other day while listening to a rare b-side single live version of In the Afternoon, in which he induces a trance and then leads the listener straight into the mystic....

SippicanCottage said...

Ah, we do love Gagdad Bob, the unholy love-child of Saint Thomas Aquinas and Dennis Miller. Only man on the Intertunnel with a better About Page than me, too. One Cosmos

Gagdad Bob said...

You just earned yourself a spot in my new pentheon of fine bloggerilia, mister!

Bill said...

The reason it works is because his songs are about people's emotions and there is no "correct" voice for those.

SippicanCottage said...

Thanks! But bloggerilia? I'm more like blogorrhea.

Gagdad Bob said...

Aye, but it's better than coonstipation.

teresa said...

He is a human saxophone

thehawkreturns said...

You need to listen to more music - with respect. His opening sax solo was weak and his trumpeter really blew him off the stage to the point of me wondering why Van didn't get a decent saxophonist. Then I heard him sing. Age, sadly, has wearied him. Scat. Sure, that's Jazz. The song is a Blues and the scat weaskens the message. The Armstrong version is stunning. The Jazz great played it as the blues it was meant to be. And he could play his horn properly. Sorry Van. You were the man.

SippicanCottage said...

You need to listen to more music...

I don't know why, but this struck me as funny.

Thanks for reading and commenting.

Anonymous said...

LOVE, simply, love...

Leslie in AZ

Anonymous said...

Love, simply, Love ....
Leslie's Friend

Anonymous said...

Love dancing in the moonlight on a wild night Tupelo Honey. Friend of Tupelo Honey

SippicanCottage said...

Love dancing in the moonlight...

I've heard this a thousand times. About 75% of the population thinks Dancing In The Moonlight is a Van Morrison song. It's actually by a band called King Harvest. My own BIL swore up and down I was in error about this, as have others, and show me that it's on a Van Morrison's greatest hits. Thing is, it's on a Van Morrison's greatest hits downloaded from a pirate site, and the uploader stuck Dancing in the Moonlight on it, and everybody's got the same version. It's passed into the general population's mind so completely at his point that I bet Van could win a copyright suit over it against King Harvest if he wanted to.

Thanks for reading and commenting.