Why Van Morrison -- at Borgata Saturday -- is still the man
The Belfast Bluesman Why Van Morrison -- at Borgata Saturday -- is still the man By Jeff Schwachter-->
Although the veteran Irish singer/songwriter has avoided the limelight for decades, cutting down on his touring schedule considerably by the early 1980s, Van Morrison continues to "gig around," as he calls it, even taking the occasional trip overseas for shows like his debut this Saturday, July 12, at the Borgata, following a two-night stand at Philly's Tower Theater.
According to Morrison, he's just doing his job.
"Basically I'm a working musician, singer, songwriter, and that's really what I do," he told the U.K.'s BBC earlier this year in a rare interview around the release of his 35th album -- Keep it Simple -- and his first to ever crack the Top 10 on the Billboard Top 200.
According to the nearly 63-year old Morrison, Keep it Simple (Lost Highway Records) is based on music he enjoys listening to ("blues, folk, gospel, all of my influences. Curtis Mayfield," he tells the BBC) with lyrics that touch upon love, spirituality, growing older and his ongoing disappointment with a topic that has been brought up over and over in the singer's often great recent output: the "fame game."
He added in the BBC interview: "I think I'd rather put [my energy] into writing songs, than photo ops, or being on talk shows or whatever. Because my personality does not suit that being famous bit; I don't have that personality, you see? Some people want to be out there, and I just don't. Basically I'm a simple guy, you know, in a complicated business, and the fame thing, I've never been comfortable with fame, so that's kind of what a lot of this material is about."
The Grammy-winning Rock and Roll Hall of Famer has released so many terrific albums and has written so many great songs over the years that he's certainly one of the most prolific and original singer-songwriters of the modern era. From "Gloria" by his early band Them to "Moondance" to the original "Have I Told You Lately" and new tracks like "End of the Land," "Soul," and "Lover Come Back," Van has been the man for quite a while, pulling inspiration from vintage American blues, R&B and jazz and inspiring a wide range of artists over the years from the Band to U2 to James Hunter.
1. Consistency. Dating back to 1997, when Morrison released the fabulous, self-produced The Healing Game, the singer-songwriter has been constantly and with consistent quality putting out records, including his current hit Keep it Simple.
2. Throwback. Despite the trends of hip-hop, pop-country, emo and indie rock, in recent years Morrison has invested his creativity in producing music that touches on his Irish roots, Hank Williams, old R&B, swing, doo-wop and Sinatra.
3. Astral Weeks. Thirty years later, one of the great albums of all time still sounds amazing.
4. He's unpredictable. Over the past 20 years he's kept his fans on their toes making an album of traditional Irish tunes (1988's Irish Heartbeat) a gritty blues album (1993's Too Long in Exile), a jazz album (1996's How Long Has This Been Going On?) a skiffle album (2000's The Skiffle Sessions) and a country album (2006's Pay the Devil).
5. Of Morrison, the late John Lee Hooker once said, "He's my favorite white blues singer -- and one of the greatest around."
6. Although he plays what he wants in concert, preferring to keep the sets heavy with material from his recent albums, Morrison is still apt to throw in a few classics each night such as "Moondance," "Gloria" or "Ballerina."
7. When asked in a 2001 interview who his favorite musicians were, the late Tim Russert answered: "Van Morrison and Bruce Springsteen. Every song, every album. My taste hasn't changed in 25 years, and when I'm preparing for Meet the Press, that music is playing in the background."
8. His 1970 song "Crazy Love" has been recorded by dozens upon dozens of artists over the years, including Aaron Neville, Esther Phillips, Bryan Ferry, Helen Reddy, Brian McKnight, Maxi Priest and Ray Charles. Not to mention sung by every busker on the street or acoustic performer on an outdoor deck in the summertime.
9. Not only an accomplished harmonica player, Morrison also plays the saxophone. And quite often on his current tour, according to Internet reports.
Singer-songwriter Colbie Caillat brings her “Bubbly” tunes to Caesars March 23, speaks with Atlantic City Weekly.
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