Van Morrison – Moondance (1970)
Good life advice: if you don’t really like something/someone, try to understand them.
I think I’ve figured out why I have yet to become a huge Van Morrison fan: The Neil Young factor.
When I sing? At best, dismissed as pleasant. At worst, dismissed as not particularly exciting.
Inspiring that sort of general indifference is one of the (countless) reasons I won’t ever be the answer to the following question: Who is your favourite solo artist from the second half of the 20th century?
Chances are, if you conducted a family-feud-style poll of 100 people, the 5 names below would be among the most frequent answers. What do they have in common? They are seen by some as terrible singers, by others as terribly wonderful/wonderfully terrible singers.
Bob Dylan? Can’t sing, I’m a fan.
Neil Young? I will continue to try to get past the whiny tones but for some (whose musical opinions I hold in exceptionally high regard), this is music’s pinnacle.
Joni Mitchell? Can be accused of vocal wandering (though I surprisingly did quite enjoy Blue earlier in this project). Do not read her interview in the Neil Strauss book, Everyone Loves You When You’re Dead, if you wish to continue to be a Joni Mitchell fan.
Leonard Cohen? If you can call it singing, it works.
Van Morrison? Even if I don’t fully get the appeal, his voice inspires people to be huge fans. And that’s something.
post-script: the review! Moondance wasn’t noticeably stronger or weaker than his other efforts. Some songs felt a bit like The Band and thanks to the subtle guitar walk-up, Into the Mystic might be my favourite of his tunes thus far. So the conversion hasn’t happened (nor have I been driven further away) yet, but perhaps his third 1001 album, It’s Too Late to Stop Now, will be the difference maker.