Wednesday 18 September 2019

'I was just a child. I hadn't a clue about what I was doing'

Van Morrison
Van Morrison

Half a century after it was recorded, Van Morrison's second studio album Astral Weeks remains a touchstone for music fans.

Remembering those times in his rare interview with Miriam O'Callaghan, Van still retained an affection for the album - but insisted that music should not be over analysed.

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Van said that he had been sleeping on someone's couch in Boston and was "totally broke" when he made the enigmatic album. "What I say about it now is, basically I was just a child. I hadn't a clue about what I was doing. It's very difficult to relate to it now, because it keeps coming up, but it's a great album... it's not relatable to me now, I'm not the same person. I was a kid then... I didn't know anything about anything I was just spinning off the top of my head."

He agreed that big hits can eclipse his other work. "I'm not there anymore... I can't really relate to it... I think it gets in the way of doing new stuff, some people always refer back to that all the time."

Morrison said he didn't think music should be talked about and analysed so much.

"I mean I don't need to dissect it, I take it for what it is. If I get these ideas I write them down, and progress them and evolve them."

He spoke of trying to survive on $100 a week during those times - however, he was reluctant to dwell on the past and believed in being in the now, "as much as possible, in the modern world".

"Being in the now is harder I think," he told Miriam.

Van also spoke of still performing but that he needs balance in his life and that the constant travelling is hard.

He also spoke about the late burst of creativity which has seen him releasing four albums in the space of just 15 months - the latest titled The Prophet Speaks.

He told Miriam he doesn't mind the label of "musical genius" because he thinks that he is, but it doesn't make things any easier as people's expectations are high.

He speaks of improvising and working spontaneously, and that that's the way he likes to work with his band, without music sheets.

His recording with The Chieftains in 1988 came about simply because he wanted a challenge. Listening to Sean O Riada gave him the idea to make it happen, and having previously been approached by Garech de Brun in the 1970s on a different project with The Chieftains, it came to happen in the late 1980s.

"I wanted to do something different, and something that was a challenge."

He also cleared up that he was never influenced by the poet WB Yeats: "That's another myth, I was never influenced by Yeats..."

Sunday Independent

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