Van Morrison – Saint Dominic’s Preview

I thought I would do an album track today. If someone asked me what is your favorite Van Morrison song…I might say this one. It’s an epic piece of work that I get lost in.  Van’s imagery in this song reminds me of a few of Dylan’s songs. Everything from Edith Piaf to Hank Williams to Safeway Supermarkets gets a nod.

The album of the same name was released in 1972 and it is not a song on it that I don’t like. From the soulful  Jackie Wilson Said (I’m in Heaven When You Smile) to another epic song that still blows me away, Almost Independence Day.

The album was the follow up to Tupelo Honey released in 1971. Van used some of the same musicians on both albums and the same producer, Ted Templeman. This song was not released as a single. The album peaked at #15 in the Billboard 100 in 1972.

What’s hard to believe is this album was his highest charting album until “Keep It Simple” in 2008…after that he had two more top ten albums.


I saw this interview that Van did with  Rolling Stone talking about this song right before he recorded it.

RS: Are you sometimes surprised by some of the things that come out when you’re writing?

Really. There are times when I’m mystified. I look at some of the stuff that comes out, y’know. And like, there it is and it feels right, but I can’t say for sure what it means. Like take…take “Crazy Face.” Y’know, where does that come from?

RS: There’s unquestionably a strong mystical and visionary quality to your music.

Yeah, it’s there. That’s what it is, I guess. It’s strange because I don’t see myself as a mystical type person. But then every now and then these weird experiences happen. Like I’ll be lying down on the bed with my eyes closed and all of a sudden I get the feeling that I’m floating near the ceiling looking down. I couldn’t say whether that’s supposed to be astral projection but it’s pretty freaky when it happens.

RS: Have you ever had any similar experiences that seem related to your writing?

I had one just recently. I’d been working on this song about the scene going down in Belfast. And I wasn’t sure what I was writing but anyway the central image seemed to be this church called St. Dominic’s where people were gathering to pray or hear a mass for peace in Northern Ireland. Anyway, a few weeks ago I was in Reno for a gig at the University of Nevada. And while we were having dinner I picked up the newspaper and just opened it to a page and there in front of me was an announcement about a mass for peace in Belfast to be said the next day at St. Dominic’s church in San Francisco. Totally blew me out. Like I’d never even heard of a St. Dominic’s church.

RS: How did the song turn out?

Great. In fact I’m gonna be recording it in a couple of days.

RS: What did you end up titling it?

“St. Dominic’s Preview.” You know something? I haven’t a clue to what it means.


Saint Dominic’s Preview

Shammy cleaning all the windows
Singing songs about Edith Piaf’s soul
And I hear blue strains of no regredior
Across the street from Cathedral Notre Dame

Meanwhile back in San Francisco
We’re trying hard to make this whole thing blend
As we sit upon this jagged
Storey block, with you my friend

And it’s a long way to Buffalo
It’s a long way to Belfast city too
And I’m hoping the choice won’t blow the hoist
‘Cause this town, they bit off more than they can chew.

As we gaze out on, as we gaze out on
As we gaze out on, as we gaze out on
Saint Dominic’s Preview
Saint Dominic’s Preview
Saint Dominic’s Preview

All the orange boxes are scattered
Against the Safeway’s supermarket in the rain
And everybody feels so determined
Not to feel anyone else’s pain

No one’s making no commitments
To anybody but themselves
Talkin’ behind closed doorways
Tryin’ to get outside, get outside of empty shells

And for every cross cuttin’ country corner, country corner
For every Hank Williams railroad train that cried
And all the chains, badges, flags and emblems
And every strain on brain and every eye

As we gaze out on, as we gaze out on
As we gaze out on, as we gaze out on
Saint Dominic’s Preview
Saint Dominic’s Preview
Saint Dominic’s Preview

And the restaurant tables are completely covered
The record company has paid out for the wine
You got everything in the world you ever wanted
Right about now your face should wear a smile

That’s the way it all should happen
When you’re in, when you’re in the state you’re in
You’ve got your pen and notebook ready
I think it’s about time, time for us to begin

And meanwhile, we’re over in a 52nd Street apartment
Socializing with the wino few
Just to be hip and get wet with the jet set
But they’re flying too high to see my point of view

As we gaze out on, as we gaze out on
As we gaze out on, as we gaze out on
Saint Dominic’s Preview
Saint Dominic’s Preview
Saint Dominic’s Preview

See them freedom marching
Out on the street, freedom marching
Saint Dominic’s Preview
Out in the street
Look at the man
Turn around
Come back, come back
Turn around
Look at the man
Says hold on
Saint Dominic’s Preview
Saint Dominic’s Preview
Says hold me in
Saint Dominic’s Preview




Author: Badfinger (Max)

Power Pop fan, Baseball fan, old movie and tv show fan... and a songwriter, bass and guitar player.

11 thoughts on “Van Morrison – Saint Dominic’s Preview”

      1. Yes he had some great Jazz musicians like Connie Kay the drummer. I like Van period but the early seventies is my favorite time period of him.

        Liked by 1 person

  1. Thanks for sharing that one- I don’t think I’ve ever heard it before . Pretty great song. I can hear echoes of “Crazy Love” in it but certainly different enough to be enjoyed in its own right.

    Liked by 1 person

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