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When I think of Van Morrison…

December 15, 2014

When I think of Van Morrison, I think of everything that I remember being good about my childhood, my teenage years and my adult life.

When I think of Van Morrison, I think about car journeys with my ma and da, my uncle Gerard and his tapes playing in my granny’s house in Ballyhagan.

When I think of Van Morrison, I think of hearing ‘Cleaning Windows’ in Dessie Heaney’s shop in Drumgor one Sunday after mass when I was about 10, and being completely knocked out by it. I can remember the colours and shade of the place and Declan behind the counter.

When I think of Van Morrison, I think of my da’s copy of No Guru… on vinyl, which I sneaked from his rack of records to play upstairs.

When I think of Van Morrison, I think of Astral Weeks and finally getting my hands on the greatest record of all time according to Q magazine circa 1990. It’s still thrilling to remember those first few listens.

When I think of Van Morrison, I think about my uncle Fergus and auntie Pauline and dancing around their kitchen at Christmas after a long night doing the family quiz. Well, that memory also has added ‘Teenage Kicks’.

When I think of Van Morrison, I think of the last night of the Trip to Tipp and ‘Avalon Sunset’ drifting across Thurles.

When I think of Van Morrison, I think of my first real girlfriend at university and lying in bed listening to the ‘Best of..’ and rewriting ‘Brightside of the Road’ in obscene ways.

When I think of Van Morrison, I think of the Whitla Hall and a show so astounding I left in tears.

When I think of Van Morrison, I think of the Bob Dylan show at the Dundonald Icebowl, when he came on and did ‘Tupelo Honey’, and me and Mickey Murphy nearly combusted.

When I think of Van Morrison, I think of walking down a New Jersey boardwalk and singing ‘Astral Weeks’ while listening to a Walkman tape which had Springsteen on the other side.

When I think of Van Morrison, I think of those first few years in England and listening to a tape wondering if I’d ever go back to Craigavon. I think I knew I never would, but he made that sub conscious knowledge more easy to deal with.

When I think of Van Morrison, I think of going with my wife to two Liverpool gigs which she hated, but paid for. I love her for going to both because she knew I love him so much.

When I think of Van Morrison, I think of going to Manchester to see him and Bob Dylan on the night before my stag weekend. Van was so good I left before Dylan came on because I didn’t want to be disappointed.

When I think of Van Morrison, I think of a Liverpool Empire show so good, and which included a mesmeric ‘Vanlose Stairway’, that my mate Mike Chapple was seen to celebrate by jumping in the air across Lime Street in the manner of Nobby Stiles after winning the 1966 World Cup.

When I think about Van Morrison, I think about playing ‘Brightside of the Road’ on the guitar to our daughter Ella as she went to sleep.

When I think of Van Morrison, I think of my mate Steve Cockcroft and long coffees in the Coffee Yard in Holywood, the best craic you can have at 10 in the morning.

And when I think of all these things, I think that Van Morrison doesn’t owe me a thing and that I owe him so much more than I could ever express.

Van, I’ll buy you a Paris bun, if we ever meet.

x P.

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