Today is Van Morrison’s 64th birthday.
Erik Hage – perhaps best known around Nippertown for his music writings in Metroland, including his monthly column, “The Major Lift” – describes Morrison as “one of the greatest, most idiosyncratic and unique performers and songwriters in the history of popular music.”
And Hage knows what he’s talking about. He wrote the book on Morrison. Literally.
Hage’s first book, “The Words and Music of Van Morrison,” was published earlier this year as part of the ongoing Praeger Singer-Songwriter Collection.
So in honor of Van Morrison’s birthday, here’s the Nippertown.com interview with Erik Hage – professor, music journalist and author:
Q: In the opening statement of the introduction to the book, you write, “If you’re looking for me to sum up or define the work of Van Morrison in this introduction, I simply can’t do that – for more than anything Van Morrison seems to constitute an entire universe unto himself.” Was this book a daunting task for you?
A: It was very daunting, but the flipside of that is that only an artist of Van Morrison’s breadth and scope really warrants a book like this. There aren’t too many artists whose music I would give over a year of my life to. But he has such an expansive and diverse canon that it was a truly worthwhile and illuminating experience for me.
The only other “pop” artist I would be interested in exploring in such depth would be Bob Dylan, for the very same reason. There are countless other artists I like to listen to—perhaps even more than Van Morrison—but few who really warrant this type of work. Dylan and Morrison are still making compelling records and still searching out new ways of expressing themselves. Others, like Paul McCartney or Neil Young aren’t still doing stuff that’s compelling to me.