Posted by: Mark Nielsen | March 12, 2010

Everything Old and Irish Is New Again

Listening to Van Morrison tonight as I was cleaning the fifty gallon fishtank (about a month overdue). I’m reading Richard Rohr’s book about men’s issues, _Adam’s Return_ . Today Rohr quoted Yeats… and I’ve got the distinct impression that Van is the late 20th century’s William Butler Yeats. Both Irish, both “mystics” in their own way. Both rocking the boat. And Van even cites or quotes Yeats on occasion. 

I dropped the needle (er… laser?… mp3 decoder?…) on some obscure stuff, then on the very good album The Healing Game, then on Best of Van Morrison for the classics.  For purely personal reasons, my favorite Van Morrison album is Avalon Sunset  from 1989, as it contains both our wedding song ( Have I Told You Lately … and no, Rod Stewart did NOT write it, nor sing it first), and Van’s most direct and clear song about Jesus (a duet with Cliff Richard called Whenever God Shines His Light).

But what I wanted to offer today in preparation for St. Paddy’s Day is a smackerel of the obscure stuff: a much more subversive and ridiculous offering from Morrison during his so-called “angry Bang” sessions. He was contractually obligated to put out another album for Bang Records, an early label that barely paid him royalties for his early solo work. So he went into the studio and threw together some improvised chords and off-the-cuff, pissed off lyrics. It was his way of flipping the ultimate musical  bird to unethical businessmen. Here’s your sample:

Big Royalty Check

Since the most important gifts that the Irish gave to American culture were musical and political, this fits the bill for St. Patrick’s Day nicely. It was all about money at that point, and as Bob Dylan once sang, “we live in a political world”, where money makes the world go ’round.

I wanted to post more links and songs, but the parameters of my blog are limited technically (or else I’m too stupid to figure out how to upload a whole song). Anyway, you get the point.

So this year, besides the “wearing of the green”, go picket your least favorite parasitic corporation, in honor of St. Pat ( a former slave and “man of the people”) and in honor of Van the Man, the Belfast Cowboy.


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