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Van Morrison

Equal parts blue-eyed soul shouter and wild-eyed poet-sorcerer, Van Morrison is among popular music's true innovators, a restless seeker whose incantatory vocals and alchemical fusion of R&B, jazz, blues, and Celtic folk produced perhaps the most spiritually transcendent body of work in the rock & roll canon. Subject only to the whims of his own muse, his recordings cover extraordinary stylistic ground yet retain a consistency and purity virtually unmatched among his contemporaries, connected by the mythic power of his singular musical vision and his incendiary vocal delivery: spiraling repetitions of wails and whispers that bypass the confines of language to articulate emotional truths far beyond the scope of literal meaning.

George Ivan Morrison was born in Belfast, Northern Ireland, on August 31, 1945; his mother was a singer, while his father ardently collected classic American jazz and blues recordings. At 15, he quit school to join the local R&B band the Monarchs, touring military bases throughout Europe before returning home to form his own group, Them. Boasting a fiery, gritty sound heavily influenced by Morrison heroes like Howlin' Wolf, Brownie McGhee, Sonny Boy Williamson, and Little Walter, Them quickly earned a devout local following and in late 1964 recorded their debut single, "Don't Start Crying Now." The follow-up, an electrifying reading of Big Joe Williams' "Baby Please Don't Go," cracked the U.K. Top Ten in early 1965. Though not a major hit upon its original release, Them's Morrison-penned "Gloria" endures among the true classics of the rock pantheon, covered by everyone from the Doors to Patti Smith. Lineup changes plagued the band throughout its lifespan, however, and at the insistence of producer Bert Berns, over time session musicians increasingly assumed the lion's share of recording duties. A frustrated Morrison finally left Them following a 1966 tour of the U.S., quitting the music business and returning to Belfast.

After Berns relocated to New York City to form Bang Records, he convinced Morrison to travel stateside and record as a solo artist; the sessions produced arguably his most familiar hit, the jubilant "Brown-Eyed Girl" (originally titled "Brown-Skinned Girl"), a Top Ten smash in the summer of 1967. By contrast, however, the resulting album, Blowin' Your Mind, was a bleak, bluesy effort highlighted by the harrowing "T.B. Sheets." The sessions were originally intended to produce only material for singles, so when Berns released the LP against Morrison's wishes, he again retreated home to Ireland while the album tanked on the charts. Berns suffered a fatal heart attack in late 1967, which freed Morrison of his contractual obligations and energized him to start working on new material.

His first album for new label Warner Bros., 1968's Astral Weeks, remains not only Morrison's masterpiece, but one of the greatest records ever made. A haunting, deeply personal collection of impressionistic folk-styled epics recorded by an all-star jazz backing unit including bassist Richard Davis and drummer Connie Kay, its poetic complexity earned critical raves but made only a minimal commercial impact. The follow-up, 1970's Moondance, was every bit as brilliant; buoyant and optimistic where Astral Weeks had been dark and anguished, it cracked the Top 40, generating the perennials "Caravan" and "Into the Mystic."

The first half of the 1970s was the most fertile creative period of Morrison's career. From Moondance onward, his records reflected an increasingly celebratory and profoundly mystical outlook spurred on in large part by his marriage to wife Janet Planet and the couple's relocation to California. After His Band and the Street Choir yielded his biggest chart hit, "Domino," Morrison released 1971's Tupelo Honey, a lovely, pastoral meditation on wedded bliss highlighted by the single "Wild Night." In the wake of the following year's stirring Saint Dominic's Preview, he formed the Caledonia Soul Orchestra, featured both on the studio effort Hard Nose the Highway and on the excellent live set It's Too Late to Stop Now. However, in 1973 he not only dissolved the group but also divorced Planet and moved back to Belfast. The stunning 1974 LP Veedon Fleece chronicled Morrison's emotional turmoil; he then remained silent for three years, reportedly working on a number of aborted projects but releasing nothing until 1977's aptly titled A Period of Transition.

Plagued for some time by chronic stage fright, Morrison mounted his first tour in close to five years in support of 1978's Wavelength; his performances became more and more erratic, however, and during a 1979 date at New York's Palladium, he even stalked off-stage in mid-set and did not return. Into the Music, released later that year, evoked a more conventionally spiritual perspective than before, a pattern continued on successive outings for years to come. Albums like 1983's Inarticulate Speech of the Heart, 1985's A Sense of Wonder, and 1986's No Guru, No Method, No Teacher are all largely cut from the same cloth, employing serenely beautiful musical backdrops to explore themes of faith and healing. For 1988's Irish Heartbeat, however, Morrison teamed with another of his homeland's musical institutions, the famed Chieftains, for a collection of traditional folk songs.

Meanwhile, Avalon Sunset heralded a commercial rebirth of sorts in 1989. While "Whenever God Shines His Light," a duet with Cliff Richard, became Morrison's first U.K. Top 20 hit in over two decades, the gorgeous "Have I Told You Lately That I Love You" emerged as something of a contemporary standard, with a Rod Stewart cover cracking the U.S. Top Five in 1993. Further proof of Morrison's renewed popularity arrived with the 1990 release of Mercury's best-of package; far and away the best-selling album of his career, it introduced the singer to a new generation of fans. A new studio record, Enlightenment, appeared that same year, followed in 1991 by the ambitious double set Hymns to the Silence, widely hailed as his most impressive outing in years.

Following the uniformity of his 1980s work, the remainder of the decade proved impressively eclectic: 1993's Too Long in Exile returned Morrison to his musical roots with covers of blues and R&B classics, while on 1995's Days Like This he teamed with daughter Shana for a duet on "You Don't Know Me." For the Verve label, he cut 1996's How Long Has This Been Going On, a traditional jazz record co-credited to longtime pianist Georgie Fame, while for the follow-up Tell Me Something: The Songs of Mose Allison he worked with guest of honor Allison himself. Morrison continued balancing the past and the future in the years to follow, alternating between new studio albums (1997's The Healing Game, 1999's Back on Top) and collections of rare and live material (1998's The Philosopher's Stone and 2000's The Skiffle Sessions and You Win Again).

It wasn't until 2002 that an album of new material surfaced, but in May his long-anticipated Down the Road was released. Three years later, Morrison issued Magic Time. Pay the Devil, a country-tinged set, appeared in 2006 on Lost Highway Records. That same year, Morrison released his first commercial DVD, Live at Montreux 1980 and 1974, drawn from two separate appearances at the Montreux Jazz Festival. In 2008, Morrison released Keep It Simple, his first album of all-original material since 1999's Back on Top. In November of that same year, Morrison performed the entire Astral Weeks album live at two shows at the Hollywood Bowl in Los Angeles, which resulted in 2009's Astral Weeks: Live at the Hollywood Bowl album and Astral Weeks Live at the Hollywood Bowl: The Concert Film. His 34th studio album, Born to Sing: No Plan B, recorded in Belfast, appeared in the fall of 2012. ~ Jason Ankeny & Steve Leggett, Rovi
full bio

Selected Discography

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Track List: Open The Door (To Your Heart) (Single)

Comments

My coison cyanne's song........ . Brown eyed girl! Cy do you remember when WE used to sig sha lalalalalala l a l a l a l a l a l a . . . . . .
cauffmank
Just love rainy days in Florida
A day without Van Morrison is like a day without sunshine....
Street Choir Band might be my favorite Van record, but it is also the one I listened to the most, I would likely own all his records given the chance to have them all.
Good photo
fastcar3829
Van the man Morrison is Van-freakin- t a s t i c !
hey neon,,me too,,,big brown eyes
Van..timeles s and will be played 100 yrs from now..we can only hope
Love into the mystic
Great movie and even better remake when warren haynes sang it with the Allman Bros in concert!
Don't read this because it actually works. You will be kisses on the nearest Friday by the love of your life. Tomorrow will be the best day of your life. However if you don't post it this you will die in two days. Now you've started reading so don't stop. This is so scary put this on 5 songs in 143 minutes when done press f6 and you lovers name will appear on the screen this is so scary because it works
My husband dedicated this song to a woman he met online.It is a great song.My eyes are blue so....It will forever remind me......
I am a brown eyed girl!!! So in that case…. Sha la la la la la la lala lala la la!!!!!!
jeeez... can you do better than Van Morrison?? So many songs, so many hits, so much soul in the music... Don't think Van ever did a bad song, only degrees of fine..
Don't read this because it acually works. You will be kissed on the nearest friday by the love of your life. Tomorrow will be the best day of your life. However if you don't post it this you will die in two days. Now you've started reading this so don't stop. This is so scary put this on 5 songs in 143 minutes when done press f6 and you lovers name will appear on the screen in big letters this is so scary because it work
Don't read this because it acually works. You will be kissed on the nearest
Love the alternate take of Brown Eyed Girl...
cinn1970reun i o n
Wow! This man has paid his dues! And has given us such great music! Listen to the lyrics. Take your head out of your a**. Brown Eye Girl was written about a brown skin women the record company would not allow him to sing about that. Grow up and give the Man his dues!!!
Have i told i love you lately
Lol I always sing this to my girlfriend
jeanroberts1 6 7
Great car, duh! Oops
jeanroberts1 6 7
Nuclear fusion, greasy car! Great song!
japersico
filth pig please explain your dislike for Van
japersico
yeah bleep out a** and leave in anal sex
japersico
I think you meant provocative dumb a**.
Brown eyes girl aint about anal sex
Fat Halpert, are you sure about brown eyed girl....I always knew he was great but I didn't how great ,until just now . And to think ,all these years !!!
This cat should have made the Woodstock seen . I don't know why he missed that gig.
Into the mystic... Another amazing song
remarkablepe n g u i n
Ok self.
Love this song.
I've always loved this song but NEVER had a clue who sung it.
Heydhth
Infact he had to change the lyrics a couple of times before the song was released, because it was to proactive
Ha ha, tobad brown eye girl is about anal sex. Good song though.
Brown Eyed Girl. I love Van Morrison. This is my song to my precious baby girl Lana. She's got the biggest brown eyes you will ever see.
Ive always been repulsed by VM sorry I have to say it. God bless you if you do like it. Every fiber of my being rejects it with up most disgust
Don't read this, because it actually works.You will be kissed on the nearest possible Friday, by the love of your life.Tomorro w will be the best day of your life. However, if you don't post this, you will die in 2 days. Now you've started reading this, don't stop.This is so scary. Post this on at least 5 songs in 143 minutes. When done, press f6 and your lovers name will come up on the screen .This is so scary, because it works
4 days ago
gloria by Shadows of night knocked the stones and beatles off number one for nine weeks
was never van's favorite even though its his signature
brown eyed girl was dark skinned girl - changed before the recording set
slizbelle
Don't read this because it actually works. You will be kissed on the nearest Friday by the love of your life. Tomorrow will be the best day of your life. However if you don't post this you will die in 2 days. Now you started reading this so don't stop. This is so scary put this on at least 5 songs in the next 143 minutes. When done press f6 and your lovers name will appear on the screen in big letters this is so scary because it actually works
Please follow me ill follow back
Brown eyed girl... The song that wasn't blonde hair, blue eyes and still was better than any other song classifying a girl by her eye/hair color.
Started as lead singer of them.
Gloria
My song
man i just wanna remember my whole life again
So many memories carried on van's lyrics. Bitter, sweet, joyous and painful. Can't explain the power but always feel it. Nice!
his music is soooo sooothing, it`s one to hear for generations to come, PRICELESS!!! !
My dad sang this song (Brown eyed Girl) to my mom back in the good old days, because she just happens to have brown eyes.
Kissamy face
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