I bought Van Morrison’s new recording of Astral Weeks the other day and I’ve hardly listened to anything else since. It’s hard to improve upon perfection but I think Live at the Hollywood Bowl might just do it.
As you can tell, I’m a fan. Which is why I was interested by a blog I came across on the BBC website ridiculing the idea that Van is Ireland’s greatest poet. Now, clearly Van isn’t Ireland’s greatest poet but that’s not to say he isn’t great. His lyrics may often be indecipherable on record, but get the album sleeve out and you’ll realise the gems you’re missing out on because he can’t be bothered to enunciate.
I once wrote an essay comparing Van to the Romantics. The essay got absolutely slated by my supervisor, presumably because she thought Van wasn’t a proper poet either. But I’m still very much in Van’s camp, and it’s going to take a pretty strong argument to persuade me that Astral Weeks wouldn’t sit very comfortably in The Complete Works of John Keats.
“Philosophy will clip an angel’s wings.” – John Keats, Lamia
“To dig it all and not to wonder, that’s just fine.” – Van Morrison, Sweet Thing