Into the Music
Charisma Books, London
Review by Michael Hayward:
I picked up a second-hand copy of this paperback biography of Van
while browsing through a London bookstore a number of years ago.
According to the text on the back:
This is the first biography of Van Morrison, the man whose stunningly
beautiful lyrics and virtuoso performances have won him a respect
and admiration granted to few musicians. His music reaches out to
millions, yet the man himself is shrouded by a mystique that seemed
virtually impenetrable. He is elusive, complex, and withdrawn. He
allows years to slip by without performing in public and he rarely
grants interviews. But he did talk to Ritchie Yorke, freely
and at great length and the result is a unique and loving assessment
of this solitary rock genius.
In his introduction, the author states that this book "is an early
account of Van Morrison's first 29 years on earth" - covering up to
Van's Veedon Fleece
album. As such, it is a valuable look at what we might now think of
as "the early years". The real strength of this book is that it
seems to be a rare record of Van's own explanations of his lyrics.
For example, Van has this to say about
"Into the Mystic":
"Into the Mystic" is another one like "Madame Joy" and "Brown Skinned
Girl". Originally I wrote it as "Into the Misty". But later I
thought that it had something of an ethereal feeling to it so I
called it "Into the Mystic". That song is kind of funny because when
it came time to send the lyrics into Warner Brothers Music, I
couldn't figure out what to send them. Because really the song has
two sets of lyrics. For example there's "I was born before the wind"
and "I was borne before the wind" ... and "Also younger than the
son, Ere the bonny boat was one", and "All so younger than the son,
Ere the bonny boat was won". It had all these different meanings and
they were all in there: whatever one you want is in the song. I
guess the song is just about being part of the universe.
If I have one complaint about this book, it is that it sometimes feels
as if the author is trying to tread too carefully and not offend anyone -
particularly the subject. Still: I wish Van was again as forthcoming
about his music as he appeared to have been to the author of this book...
Part of the van-the-man.info unofficial website