Van Morrison

Van the man

Summertime in England
Too Long in Exile

Van Morrison
Van Morrison is one of the most influential singers of our time. Born in Ireland, Van earned a name singing for the rock group "Them," after which he launched himself into an incredibly successful solo career. Known for his deeply spiritual lyrics and his uncompromising artistic integrity, Van Morrison is one of the most respected and sought after artists in the popular musical world. His musical styles have embraced folk, jazz, country, Irish traditional, rock and roll, blues, and even gospel. He has worked with, among many others, the Chieftains, John Lee Hooker, and Sinead O' Connor.
Although Van has released no songs directly inspired by James Joyce, he does name-check Jim on two seperate occasions: "Too Long in Exile" on 1993's Too Long in Exile, and "Summertime in England" on Common One. Furthermore, according to Richard Hayes, Van Morrison set one of Joyce's poems to music and recorded it in the late 1970s, but was not allowed to release it because The Society of Authors would not grant permission.

"Summertime in England" from Common One

This song is located on the 1980 Polydor release Common One. It is one of Van's longest songs, and like many of his long songs it has a delicious momentum, building up its energy gradually, rolling over several changes and then slowly winding down to a lovely finale. Like much of his work from this period, the lyrics are touched by a Celtic twilight-ish sense of nostalgia, and the music is supported by a wonderful string section that completely avoids the treacle that strings can sometimes lend to songs like this. And as usual with Van Morrison's lyrics, passages that seem awkward or even silly on paper take on a soaring and majestical intensity when sung by Van in their proper place.
The rest of this transitional album is pretty good, too, and perfectly straddles the mercurial-yet-subtle brilliance of his Veedon Fleece period with the hushed mysticism of his later Poetic Champions Compose style. Blues and jazz influences are well balanced with his own unique blend of romantic pop, and the album ends with another long piece, soft lullaby that puts the whole album to bed as the stars appear in the sky and tranquility settles across the land. Highly recommended!

Lyrics

"Summertime in England"

Can you meet me in the country
In the summertime in England
Will you meet me?
Will you meet me in the country
In the summertime in England
Will you meet me?
We'll go riding up to Kendal in the country
In the summertime in England.
Did you ever hear about
Did you ever hear about
Did you ever hear about
Wordsworth and Coleridge, baby?
Did you ever hear about Wordsworth and Coleridge?
They were smokin' up in Kendal
By the lakeside
Can you meet me in the country in the long grass
In the summertime in England
Will you meet me
With your red robe dangling all around your body
With your red robe dangling all around your body
Will you meet me
Did you ever hear about . . .
William Blake
T. S. Eliot
In the summer
In the countryside
They were smokin'
Summertime in England
Won't you meet me down Bristol
Meet me along by Bristol
We'll go ridin' down
Down by Avalon
Down by Avalon
Down by Avalon
In the countryside in England
With your red robe danglin' all around your body free
Let your red robe go.
Goin' ridin' down by Avalon
Would you meet me in the country
In the summertime in England
Would you meet me?
In the Church of St. John . . .
Down by Avalon . . . .
Holy Magnet
Give you attraction
Yea, I was attracted to you.
Your coat was old, ragged and worn
And you wore it down through the ages
Ah, the sufferin' did show in your eyes as we spoke
And the gospel music
The voice of Mahalia Jackson came through the ether
Oh my common one with the coat so old
And the light in the head
Said, daddy, don't stroke me
Call me the common one.
I said, oh, common one, my illuminated one.
Oh my high in the art of sufferin' one.
Take a walk with me
Take a walk with me down by Avalon
Oh, my common one with the coat so old
And the light in her head.
And the sufferin' so fine
Take a walk with me down by Avalon
And I will show you
It ain't why, why, why
It just is.
Would you meet me in the country
Can you meet me in the long grass
In the country in the summertime
Can you meet me in the long grass
Wait a minute
With your red robe . . .
Danglin' all around your body.
Yeats and Lady Gregory corresponded . . .
And James Joyce wrote streams of consciousness books . . .
T.S. Eliot chose England . . .
T.S. Eliot joined the ministry . . .
Did you ever hear about . . .
Wordsworth and Coleridge?
Smokin' up in Kendal
They were smokin' by the lakeside . . .
Let your red robe go . . .
Let your red robe dangle in the countryside in England
We'll go ridin' down by Avalon
In the country
In the summertime
With you by my side
Let your red robe go . . .
You'll be happy dancin' . . .
Let your red robe go . . .
Won't you meet me down by Avalon
In the summertime in England
In the Church of St. John . . .
Did you ever hear about Jesus walkin'
Jesus walkin' down by Avalon?
Can you feel the light in England?
Can you feel the light in England?
Oh, my common one with the light in her head
And the coat so old
And the sufferin' so fine
Take a walk with me
Oh, my common one,
Oh, my illuminated one
Down by Avalon . . .
Oh, my common one . . .
Oh, my storytime one
Oh, my treasury in the sunset
Take a walk with me
And I will show you
It ain't why . . .
It just is . . .
Oh, my common one
With the light in the head
And the coat so old
Oh, my high in the art of sufferin' one . . .
Oh, my common one
Take a walk with me
Down by Avalon
And I will show you
It ain't why . . .
It just is.
Oh, my common one with the light in her head
And the coat so fine
And the sufferin' so high . . .
All right now.
Oh, my common one . . .
It ain't why . . .
It just is . . .
That's all
That's all there is about it.
It just is.
Can you feel the light?
I want to go to church and say.
In your soul . . .
Ain't it high?
Oh, my common one
Oh, my storytime one
Oh, my high in the art of sufferin' one
Put your head on my shoulder . . .
And you listen to the silence.
Can you feel the silence?


"Too Long in Exile" from Too Long in Exile

This song is the title track on Van Morrison's 1993 CD, Too Long in Exile. A slow-building and unhurried song, its subject matter is the too-often Irish theme of exile from one's country. It has a very jazzy, bluesy feeling, complete with twanging guitar and a saxophone solo. The rest of the disc has a similar feel, a mixture of jazz and blues that showcases his mature voice quite well. (Although I confess a few tunes are too "loungy" for my taste.)

Lyrics

"Too Long in Exile"

Too long in exile
Too long not singing my song
Too long in exile
Too long like a rolling stone
Too long in exile

Too long in exile
Baby those people just ain't, just ain't your friends
Too long in exile my friend
You can never go home again

Well that isolated feeling
Drives you so close up against the wall
Till you feel like you can't go on
You've been in the same place
for too long

Too long in exile
Baby you can never go back home
Too long in exile
Anyway you want

Well that isolated feeling
Drives you so close up against the wall
'Cos you've been on the mainland baby
Been on the mainland, comin' on strong

Too long in exile
Too long people keep hanging on
Too long in exile
Too long like a rolling stone

And the wheeling and the dealing
All takes up too much time
Check your better self baby
You'd better satisfy, satisfy your mind

Too long in exile
Too long you've been grinding at the mill
Too long in exile
man, I've really just had my fill

Too long in exile
Baby you can never go back home
Too long in exile
You're about to drive me just insane

Too long in exile, been too long in exile
Just like James Joyce, baby
Too long in exile
Just like Samuel Beckett, baby
Too long in exile
Just like Oscar Wilde
Too long in exile
Just like George Best, baby
Too long in exile
Just like Alex Higgins, baby
Too long in exile


Links/CDs/Sound Samples

To find out more about Van Morrison, you can visit the Van Morrison Homepage.

Here is the Van Morrison card over at the Ultimate Band List.

Common One is put out by Warner Brothers, and has recently been digitally remastered. Too Long in Exile is put out by Polydor of PolyGram Records.

You can purchase Van Morrison CDs, browse other discs, or listen to sound samples at Amazon.com below:

Common One
Van Morrison / Audio CD / Released 1990

Too Long In Exile
Van Morrison / Audio CD / Released 1993

--A. Ruch
15 December 2000
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