Into the Music cover
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Out of print, but can be requested through

Into the Music

by Ritchie Yorke

Published 1975
Charisma Books, London
ISBN 0-85947-013-X

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 He is elusive, complex, and withdrawn.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...

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