The Lyrical Geography of Van Morrison




It’s raining in Belfast. The locals joke that there are seven types of rain here: Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday… Today is Friday and we can attest that the proverb comes true like a prophecy. Time does not prevent our meeting with Announcement Bolkina historian, army veteran, who after having served in Iraq or Afghanistan, devotes himself to the search for his idol: Van Morrison.

Celebrities and legends at the entrance to Belfast East

Welcome to Van country (Welcome to Van Morrison territory) – he tells us by way of introduction. We are at the entrance to East Belfast in front of a wall dedicated to the glories that this area of ​​the city has given. “East Belfast, Where Georgie Knows Best” Morrison sings in old highway in a play on words that pays homage to the footballer who even gave his name to the city’s airport. George Best and Van Morrison are there, in the work entitled Celebrities and legends.

a plate in 125 Hyndford Street of: Composer Van Morrison lived here. It’s sung. On Hyndford Street where you could feel the silence at half past eleven. On Hyndford Street where you could feel the silence at half past eleven. The house, currently being restored and half hidden by scaffolding, is a humble brick house so typical of this town.

Workers from the various factories lived in this area when the Northern Irish capital was an industrial centre. This past is also remembered in the form of painted walls. History still within the walls of this city. His father worked as an electrician at the Harland and Wolf shipyards until things went wrong and he went to work in Detroit. From the United States, he brought music, blues and jazz… until he composed one of the largest record collections in the country. Accustomed to the Atlantic Records store downtown, he went there with his son. This is where Morrison bought his first record: Ray Charles.

In this house at 125 Hyndford Street, music was in the air. Also his mother, a factory worker, sang and played various instruments. In the 1970s, when they moved to the United States with their son, they ran a record store. On one occasion, after returning to Belfast, Violet took the stage with her granddaughter Shanon Morrison, who is also a performer. From generation to generation passed the music that resounded -says the song- in this house where Van was born. There he heard Lead Belly and Blind Lemmon. To Sonny Terry, Brownie Mcghee or Muddy Waters. Eclectic tastes that have shaped a musician with an unclassifiable personal stamp.

As we cross East Belfast until reaching Elmgrove Primary School in which classrooms he sat Morisson, Bodkin tells us about the battles of the 130 concerts he attended. He bought tickets for two more coming soon. He tells us about the meetings of the vanfanatics, shows us memories and photos. He reviews the groups of which his idol was a member when he was very young and the clubs in the city where they played: The Sputniks, Them, The Thunderbolts or The Monarchs with whom Morrison played for the first time abroad. when they went to play in Germany. .


QR codes to listen to Morrison’s geography

Decided to devote himself to music, he needed money which led him to work as a window cleaner. Window cleaning (What’s my line? I’m happy to clean Windows). Advancemos. Pasamos the pastry shop that across the street I could feel Morrison on one of his songs and the kingdom hall where he accompanied his mother to religious services; the cinemas where I watched cowboy movies or the convenience store where young people in the 60s of the 20th century bought their first cigarettes that maybe they smoked at The Hollow. We arrived at this park. We stop. Bodwin shows us the QR codes that are distributed along the route and that allow us to listen to part of the songs where they acquire their full meaning. We have them in mind. And listening to the passionate stories of someone who may have had a youngster who walked the same streets is vibrant.

the hollow it is a park where life was articulated. Here appeared the brown eyed girlbrown eyed girl, one of the author’s mythical songs, broadcast millions of times on radio stations around the world. (Where did we go / days when the rains fell / went down into the hollow playing a new game – Where we go on rainy days, to the Hollow to practice a new game).

If we follow the path we come to Orangefield Park. On one side was the girls’ school, on the other the boys’. The place seemed ideal for new experiences for teenagers also included in Morrison’s repertoire. How I loved you then in Orangefield. How I love you now in Orangefield. And the sun was shining on your hair, when I saw you there in OrangeField / How I loved you then in Orangefield. Just like I love you now in Orangefield. The sun shines on your hair when I see you there in Orangefield.

Three and a half kilometers of decades of music history

We entered Cyprus Avenue, a tree-lined avenue with tall, more luxurious houses that contrast with the brick ones seen two streets away. Bodkin is moved when he recalls his position in the front row during the two concerts with which Van Morrison celebrated his seventieth birthday. “He didn’t touch her,” he tells us. He finds his cell phone and presses play. As we listen, we continue walking down the street until we come across St. Donalds Church where Morrison’s parents were married and whose bells – six – ring in some of his lyrics. We don’t hear them now, just as we didn’t hear the train. There are no more roads but there were. And they are in a songbook that here takes shape as if it were a map. I love hearing that evening train go by, especially when my baby’s in my head. I like to hear the night train go by, especially when I think of my love.

We’ve been walking in the rain for a long time, but Bodkin could go on and on. We have traveled three and a half kilometers and several decades of music history. Recently, Morrison fashioned the film’s soundtrack Belfast by Kenneth Brannagh. The director grew up a few blocks from here. These were difficult years. the theme until joy, essentially joy. Somehow the two returned if they ever left.

Van Morrison lives in Hollywood, a neighborhood just outside belfast not very far, although light years away from this district which is imprint, memory and music. It is said that once in a while, like yesterday, Van Morrison quietly plays in small joints in Belfast. It’s an excuse like any other to come here. Who knows. Maybe we will find it.

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