Tuesday, May 25, 2010
One of the jazzier albums I included on my FIFTEEN FANTASY ISLAND FAVORITES list was Poetic Champions Compose by Van Morrison. When I first heard the album my inclination was to think jazz, but it is definitely influenced by rock, R & B, and gospel. In my earliest exposure to Van Morrison I would have called him rock, but Morrison has referred to himself as Celtic Soul.
My first exposure to Van Morrison was when a song called "Gloria" hit the charts in 1965. The group was called Them but Van Morrison's role as lead singer was readily noted. At fourteen years of age, money was in short supply and I had to be careful about what I spent it on. Though the song captivated me, it was not enough to spend money on a 45 record let alone an album. "Gloria" received plenty of airplay on the radio station I was listening to at the time, WLS in Chicago. It was a gritty, raunchy song with a sexuality that a young teen could appreciate.
By the next year my family had moved to East Tennessee. "Gloria" was a standard of any self respecting local band and I was continuing to hear the song frequently. However the band Them had seemed to have come and gone, which was not unusual for bands at that time. There would be one or two hits and then a band would often be forgotten. Then in the summer of 1967 Van Morrison returned with the catchy song "Brown-eyed Girl". It was one of the signature songs of the summer of 1967.
This hit was to be followed up by a series of Morrison standards like "Moondance", "Tupelo Honey", and "Domino". The sound of these never caught on with me. I don't know what it was about them--all of my friends who had bands were covering these songs and the Morrison albums of this era were showing up in the record collections of most of my friends. The Morrison sound was not "my bag"-- Van was just not my thing. I basically ignored Van Morrison for nearly twenty years as an artist I did not particularly like.
That did it for me. Whenever I was working in Canada back then, I would buy a lot of cassette tapes so I could get rid of my Canadian money since the exchange rate meant I would have a loss. In Canada I would tend to spend more than in the United States, which isn't saying much because when I was working on the road I spent a lot of money no matter where I was. After hearing the "Wild Children" song I started buying every Van Morrison cassette I came across. Van Morrison had become the greatest in my eyes and even the old songs I had dismissed sounded good to me.
Later when I was switching over to CDs, Van Morrison was one of the artists who made the transition from cassettes. I have most of the Van Morrison collection on CD and cassette and he now stands as one of my favorite artists. All those years had gone by with me ignoring the great music this artists was putting out.
Are there any artists that you thought you didn't like only to find out years later that they were really quite good? Have your musical tastes changed much over the years?