Van Morrison – Saint Dominic’s Preview…Desert Island Albums

This is my tenth-round choice from Hanspostcard’s album draft…100 albums in 100 days. This wraps up the Desert Island Album portion of our show…now on to other albums and music movies. 

2020 ALBUM DRAFT- ROUND 10- PICK 3- BADFINGER20 SELECTS- VAN MORRISON- SAINT DOMINIC’S PREVIEW

When I was 18 in 1985 I heard Brown Eyed Girl for the first time. Somehow I missed that song growing up…which seems impossible but the song took me down a great path. I started to order imports of Van’s early Them records and then started on his 70’s solo albums.

I bought them out of order but I ended up with his late sixties and seventies albums like Astral Weeks, Moondance,  His Band and Street Choir, Veedon Fleece, Wavelength, Tupelo Honey, Hard Nose The Highway and this one (I then worked on the 80’s albums). I traveled a lot in my car in those days…seeing a girlfriend or just cruising about. Saint Dominic’s Preview was  an album I kept going back for Van’s voice, phrasing and songwriting.

The album peaked at #15 in the Billboard Album Charts and #14 in Canada in 1972.

When I got the album I had a summer job in the middle of nowhere in this back water town. I had to drive over an hour to get there and Van kept me company singing about Safeway’s Supermarket and Redwood Trees. One listen to this album and I’m young, carefree, and having a really good time living life. Music brings back memories and this one makes me feel exactly like I felt then.

The title track Saint Dominic’s Preview is a great piece of work. This song and Tupelo Honey are probably my favorite Van Morrison songs. This one takes you on a lyrical journey…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

Jackie Wilson Said (I’m in Heaven When You Smile) is all about happiness. Whenever I feel down…I play this and it’s impossible to feel down. The song is an obvious tribute to the great Jackie Wilson. I’m in heaven, when you smile

Almost Independence Day is an epic song. It has a nice flow to it and it was largely improvised. Van Morrison and guitar player Ron Elliot are trading guitar licks and then Lee Charlton joins with some great jazz-influenced drums. The over all sound of this is fantastic.

Redwood Tree evokes nostalgia and memories of growing up, in a similar way as his song And It Stoned Me. Oh redwood tree, Please let us under
When we were young we used to go, Under the redwood tree

So we are set on our respective islands with our top ten albums now. The only regret I have is that we didn’t have more favorite album picks…but it has to be some limit. The Beatles, The Who, Big Star, The Zombies, The Rolling Stones, The Allman Brothers, The Kinks, Bob Dylan, Bruce Springsteen, and Van Morrison. Not a bad 10.

Saint Dominic's Preview, In Cleveland Of All Places | by Patrick Hosken |  Medium

Now let’s move on to the last three.

1. Jackie Wilson Said (I’m in Heaven When You Smile)
2. Gypsy
3. I Will Be There
4. Listen to the Lion
5. Saint Dominic’s Preview
6. Redwood Tree
7. Almost Independence

Saint Dominic's Preview (Remastered) | HIGHRESAUDIO

 

Van Morrison – Almost Independence Day

The intro to this song is worth the price of admission. Van Morrison and guitar player Ron Elliot are trading guitar licks and then Lee Charlton joins with some great jazz-influenced drums. Van has said it was written in a stream of consciousness style. The recording was more of a jam than a thought out rehearsed process. It’s easy to get lost in this song.

Morrison released this song and album Saint Dominic’s Preview in 1972. I “found” Van in the 80s. I had heard Domino, Blue Money, and Wavelength (on SNL) when I was a kid but first heard “Brown Eyed Girl” when I was 18 years old. Why it took me so long I don’t know but after that, I had to know everything about him.

I was lucky to see him in concert in 2006 at the Ryman. If you ever get the chance to see him…don’t pass it up. His voice is even better in concert than on record and that is saying something.

Van Morrison: I picked up the phone and the operator said, “You have a phone call from Oregon. It’s Mister So-and-So.” It was a guy from the group Them. And then there was nobody on the other end. So out of that I started writing, “I can hear Them calling, ‘way from Oregon.” That’s where that came from.

Almost Independence Day

I can hear them calling way from Oregon
I can hear them calling way from Oregon
And it’s almost Independence Day

Me and my lady, we go steppin’ (we go steppin’)
We go steppin’ way out on China town
All to buy some Hong Kong silver
And the wadin’ rushing river (we go steppin’)
We go out on the, out on the town tonight

I can hear the fireworks
I can hear the fireworks
I can hear the fireworks
Up and down the, up and down the San Francisco bay
Up and down the, up and down the San Francisco bay
I can hear them echoing
I can hear, I can hear them echoing
Up and down the, up and down the San Francisco bay

I can see the boats in the harbor (way across the harbor)
Lights shining out (lights shining out)
And a cool, cool night
And a cool, cool night across the harbor
I can hear the fireworks
I can hear the people, people shouting out
I can hear the people shouting out (up and down the line)
And it’s almost Independence Day

I can see the lights way out in the harbor
And the cool, and the cool, and the cool night
And the cool, and the cool, and the cool night breeze
And I feel the cool night breeze
And I feel, feel, feel the cool night breeze
And the boats go by
And it’s almost Independence Day
And it’s almost, and it’s almost Independence Day

Way up and down the line
Way up and down the line…

Van Morrison – Jackie Wilson Said (I’m in Heaven When You Smile)

This is a lively song by Van the Man…Van Morrison. First heard this song after I bought the Van Morrison album Saint Dominic’s Preview in the 80s without knowing any song on it…I didn’t need to…it was Van Morrison. Van is one of my favorite singers…it’s not just his voice but the way he phrases his words. If you ever get a chance to see him live…do it. I got that honor (The Pay The Devil tour) once and I have to say he sounded better live than on record and that doesn’t happen a lot.

The song peaked at #62 on the Billboard 100 in 1972. This song is an obvious tribute to the great Jackie Wison.

For more on this album and a few more, Aphoristical gives his top 5 Van Morrison albums and this one is at number 2.

From Songfacts

The opening track of Saint Dominic’s Preview, this is a tribute to Jackie Wilson, one of Morrison’s influences. Released as the first single from the album, it charted at #61 on the Hot 100.

Guitarist Doug Messenger recalled the recording of the song to Uncut: “Jackie Wilson Said was totally disorganized. He didn’t know where anything went, and no one seemed to know what to do with it. Van went away and the band worked on the basic structure. When he came back we went through it a couple of times and he was real happy because all of a sudden it seemed to be making sense. He said, ‘I think it’s coming together,’ which is what he always said when he felt it was working.”

“I remember he said to the drummer, Ricky Schlosser, ‘When I sing “boom boom boom,” hit the tom and the kick drum at the same time.’ We ran through it once or twice, and the first recorded take is what’s on the album. It was all over the place, but somehow it worked. Even when he ad-libbed at the end -‘One more time’- somehow we all kept it together. At the end, Van was smiling like a Cheshire Cat. ‘I think we got it!’ We tried a second take and – of course – it all fell apart.”

The song was used as the opening theme for the 1991 comedy movie Queens Logic.

This was covered by Dexys Midnight Runners on their 1982 album Too-Rye-Ay. Released as a single, it reached #5 on the UK singles chart.

Jackie Wilson Said (I’m in Heaven When You Smile)

Jackie Wilson said
It was Reet Petite
Kinda love you got
Knock me off my feet
Let it all hang out
Oh, let it all hang out
And you know
I’m so wired up
Don’t need no coffee in my cup
Let it all hang out
Let it all hang out

Ding a ling a ling
Ding a ling a ling ding
Ding a ling a ling
Ding a ling a ling ding
Do da do da
I’m in heaven, I’m in heaven
I’m in heaven, when you smile
When you smile, when you smile
When you smile
And when you walk
Across the room
You make my heart go
Boom boom boom
Let it all hang out
Baby, let it all hang out
And every time
You look that way
Honey child, you make my day
Let it all hang out
Like the man said let it all hang out

Ding a ling a ling
Ding a ling a ling ding
Ding a ling a ling
Ding a ling a ling ding
Do da do da
I’m in heaven, I’m in heaven
I’m in heaven, when you smile
When you smile
I’m in heaven, I’m in heaven
I’m in heaven, when you smile
One more time
I’m in heaven, I’m in heaven
I’m in heaven, when you smile
When you smile

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

 

 

 

Van Morrison

Van the man is supposedly a difficult man to know but man can he sing and write… He started out with a group called Them in Belfast Ireland. They were very underrated and made some great music in the mid 60s. Gloria, Mystic Eyes, Baby Please Don’t Go, Here Comes The Night, Don’t Look Back and my favorite that is hard to find…”Mighty Like A Rose”…

He quit Them and signed with Bert Bern’s Bang records and wrote Brown Eyed Girl which sounds fresh no matter how many times i hear it. After the death of Berns he started on his great albums. Astral Weeks, Moondance, His Band and The Street Choir, Tupelo Honey, Saint Dominic’s Preview, Hard Nose the Highway and the list continues on.

My favorites are Moondance and Tupelo Honey. These albums are consistently great. I also love the title track to Saint Dominic’s Preview…it’s an epic song that I can listen to over and over with the imagery never getting old. I would suggest to anyone to get the early to mid seventies albums (but his other albums are great also) and listen to all the songs….not just the radio friendly ones. The radio songs are great… Moondance, Crazy Love, Tupelo Honey, Blue Money, Domino, Blue Money, Caravan, Wild Night but there is so much more.

Van’s voice and phrasing is like no other. I saw him live finally in 2006 and his voice was even better than I thought. If I could sing like anyone…I would pick Van.

For a person who wants to listen to Van for the first time… I would recommend the Tupelo Honey and Moondance albums to start off with…. Rock, country, folk, pop and some jazz for good measure…all mixed together in terrific songs… for his early work with Them get The Story of Them Featuring Van Morrison