There has been a number of this type of lyric book published over the last few years by, among others, artists as diverse as Kate Bush, Sean Ryder and Lou Reed. One of the earliest to present lyrics almost in the form of a poetry book was Van Morrison’s 2014 effort Lit Up Inside. Now we have a second volume in the same format with a generous number of lyrics on offer (120 songs in broadly chronological order), and although there is no background information as to how they were chosen or even what album they originate from (although I guess if you are interested in buying this you probably know already), it’s certainly an intriguing volume to dip in and out of. The choices cover the whole gamut of Van’s fifty-year career, the good, the bad and the ugly, and to be honest some work better than others when presented in this rather formal style. Of course there’s a huge difference between poetry and lyrics, but some of the pieces here do come very close to the former – Astral Weeks, And It Stoned Me, Queen of the Slipstream and Wonderful Remark are prime examples from the golden years. Others are not quite the same without the accompanying music, which you can’t help hearing in your head as you read (Inarticulate Speech of The Heart, Full Force Gale, Wild Honey and Caravan), or are just not sufficiently interesting to really work as standalone verse – for me, unfortunately a disproportionate number of the more recent compositions fall into this latter category, which means the book, with a few notable exceptions, rather tails off towards the end. All in all then, something of a mixed bag that when it’s good is very good indeed, but at times you have to sift through a lot of grit to find the gold.
Length of Read:Short
Might appeal to people who enjoyed…
Exploring the highways and byways of Sir Van’s sprawling back catalogue.
One thing you’ve learned
The book comes with a foreword written by poet Paul Muldoon, and a lengthy introduction by the book’s editor Eamonn Hughes, both of which make interesting reading as they attempt to shine a light on the elusive creative process that gave birth to these songs.