Coming in to work today, I found on my desk a five-year-old copy of this publication. Pretty much five years ago to the day I had written, “It is not the usual thing for the last day of summer, the first day of autumn to be so obligingly cool, so relatively dry and with just the right play of lemon sunlight shot through the world like a hint of transcendence.”
Maybe, in fact, it is the usual thing after all. I noticed that same citrus stain at the edges of things this morning and even a kumquat-tangerine brushstroke in the upper leaves of certain trees as they jostled each other in a fitful fall breath. It is then understandable, I think, that thoughts may turn to events promised in the air and “ ’Neath the color of October skies,” as Van “the Man” Morrison would have it in his durable hit single “Moondance.”
The 65-year-old Irish native and singer extraordinaire will be in town at the Civic Theatre in the middle of October’s first week — a Wednesday, the 6th. If any performer might transcend a midweek vibe, it would be the former front man for Them, gospel-scatting you into the spiritual and mystical heart of a Sunday afternoon with an epiphany-eyed vicar visiting for tea spiked with Jameson whiskey and toting a volume of William Blake along with his Bible.
- You’re the queen of the slipstream
- With eyes that shine
- You have crossed many waters to be
- You have drank of the fountain of
- And experienced the long cold wintry
- There’s a dream where the contents
- are visible
- Where the poetic champions compose
- Will you breathe not a word of this secrecy, and
- Will you still be my special rose?
That song, off of the 1987 album Poetic Champions Compose, can serve as an effective and affective time machine for me, taking me back to the summer of that year and the Mexican seacoast at K-38.5 where I had silted up, lived and worked among pelicans, seals, dolphins, gulls, and surfers while mooning over an absent and quite mad lover.
George Ivan Morrison as lead singer for Them on “Gloria,” “Here Comes the Night,” and “Mystic Eyes” and on “Brown-Eyed Girl,” has the power to take me back to a suburban garage in 1965, where my high school rock band awkwardly fingered our three-chord, adolescent sexuality and frustration. Morrison has articulated emotional landmarks in my life, most notably a kind of spiritual sunlight reflected on the albums Astral Weeks and Moondance, as well as the grief of dying love and the darker regions of the heart that do not lend themselves to language. They can, however, be summoned by Morrison’s saxophone on instrumentals like “Spanish Steps” from the Poetic Champions record.
The Healing Game (1997) is another soundtrack for me, this time going back to the early days of a redemptive relationship. Greil Marcus praised the album by saying, “It carries the listener into a musical home so perfect and complete he or she might have forgotten that music could call up such a place, and then populate it with people, acts, wishes, fears.” Morrison’s body of work so often touches upon the ethereal cum spiritual that he has been linked with Eastern religions, transcendental meditation, even Scientology and L.
Regarding the Northern Irishman’s literary tradition, Wikipedia says, “[His] lyrics [have been] based on his belief in the healing power of music combined with a form of mystic Christianity. This theme has become one of the predominant qualities of his work. His lyrics show an influence of the visionary poets William Blake and W.B. Yeats and others such as Samuel Taylor Coleridge and William Wordsworth. Biographer Brian Hinton believes ‘like any great poet from Blake to Seamus Heaney he takes words back to their origins in magic.… Indeed, Morrison is returning poetry to its earliest roots — as in Homer or Old English epics like Beowulf or the Psalms.’ ”
This may be putting too much spit on excellent pop music lyrics, but I am uninclined to argue if it keeps his music available. And it will be, live, in San Diego, on October 6.