Thursday, October 30, 2014

40 Year Itch : Way Back in Shady Lane

   On Veedon Fleece, released in October of 1974, Van Morrison returns, in song at least,  to his native Ireland, the place that inspired the masterpiece Astral Weeks. "Going away and coming back are the themes of all Irish writing, " he once said. 

   At the time Morrison was an Irishman in exile -- living the bi-coastal life of an American rock star in both Woodstock, NY and Fairfax, California. As a family man, that made sense. But as an artist he must have been missing something. A three week vacation to Ireland inspired seven songs that appear on Veedon Fleece

Main Street, Arklow

  Lyrically, there are several accounts of Irishmen missing their homeland. "Linden Arden Stole the Highlights" is about a tough Irish lad living in San Francisco. Both "Bulbs' and "Cul de Sac" are about people moving from home.  "Streets of Arklow" is a tribute to the Irish city Morrison visited on his vacation.

The music can wash over you. This is a fine album to play on a sunny Sunday afternoon. Critics weren't so warmly receptive. A Rolling Stone critic, writing that the album "flounders in Morrison's own cliches", calls Veedon Fleece "another aberration in fitfully inspired career."

Morrison's response would be a three year recording hiatus, a period Morrison described as full of highs, depressions, starts and stops. He did no interviews. Van the Man was tired of being the mysterious rock star.

Back in 1974, Morrison's own take on his career was summed up in a "It's the Music, Stupid " quote that appeared in full page ads for the album:

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