Image via Wikipedia"The words “mystic” and “mystical” have been applied to Van Morrison’s music so often that it almost seemed redundant when a song called “Into the Mystic” appeared on his 1970 album, “Moondance.”
Then again, few singer-songwriters anywhere can match this Irish-born troubadour, whose sold-out Wednesday concert at the Civic Theatre (top ticket price: $371.55 per seat) marks his first San Diego date in 37 years.
This holds especially true when it comes to creating genre-leaping music that, at its best, is both highly personal and broadly appealing, intensely spiritual but steeped in the grit of everyday life.
His enormous influence can be heard in the work of everyone from Bruce Springsteen and Counting Crows to James Morrison and Ray LaMontagne. Morrison’s finest albums — 1968’s “Astral Weeks,” 1970’s “Tupelo Honey,” 1988’s “Irish Heartbeat” (which he recorded with The Chieftains) and 1993’s “Hymns to the Silence” — sound very much of this earth while, almost mystically, moving somewhere beyond it.
But there are other words that apply to the Belfast Cowboy and Van the Man, to invoke two nicknames fans fondly use, including “enigmatic,” “obstinate” and “curmudgeon.” It is the combination of these qualities with his singular artistic talents that helps his best music approach transcendence, while Morrison himself can drive even his closest friends batty.
This was reinforced by longtime pal Robbie Robertson, the guitarist and main songwriter in The Band, when he described a joint performance that went anything but as planned.
After giving Robertson precise musical instructions for “Caravan,” a song the guitarist knew very well, Morrison and his band began playing it at “190 miles an hour,” Robertson recalled as he inducted Morrison into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1993.
When Morrison then led his group into a freewheeling jazz vamp, “I wanted to assassinate him on the spot,” Robertson said during his induction speech. “It was like being in a nightmare from jazz hell.”
Morrison currently has no tour publicist. But why would he need one when he rarely does interviews? No media photographers are allowed to shoot his concerts. His website states that “www.vanmorrison.com is the only official and authorized website for Van Morrison information, films and music on the internet.” Fittingly, that sentence is where his website begins — and ends."
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