- 12 Apr 01
The over of Van Morrison's new LP immediately brings to mind a controversial poem of William Wordsworth's called the Leech Gatherer, later retitled 'Resolution and Independence'.
The over of Van Morrison's new LP immediately brings to mind a controversial poem of William Wordsworth's called the Leech Gatherer, later retitled 'Resolution and Independence'. In the original poem, he uses the dialect of the 'common man' but by the time he has gotten to the 'Resolution and Independence' this has been replaced with a heightened poetic form. It was for Wordsworth a 'Period of Transition'.
It was difficult to critically appraise Van Morrison up to 'The Common One' except to say that like a good seannos singer he was unique – like Sinatra too. His style made him impossible to imitate or parody. On this album, quoting Elliot and Joyce and repeating 'streams of consciousness' he leaves him open to endless parody yet you feel that he wouldn't care – that he has matured and that more importantly has cleared a space for further growth.
Vocally Morrison is as haunting as ever and as brilliant. The most prominent part of the stunning arrangements. His melodies always have the effect of running away just when you think you have them pinned down so by the time you have come thoroughly acquainted with them it is on his terms.
Even when I'm really low I like to play Van Morrison as I feel here's this character worse off and still forging ahead. At once he reminds me of the 'Leech Gatherer'.
"As a huge stone is sometimes seen to lie/Couched on the bald top of an eminence/Wonder to all who do the same espy/By what means it could thither come and whence/So that it seems a thing endued with sense/Like a sea beast crawled forth that on a shelf/Of rock and sand reposeth, there to sun itself/Such seemed this man…/As if some dire constraint of pain, or rage/Of sickness felt by him in times long past/A more than human weight upon his frame had cast."
He wanders the moor making a livelihood catching leeches which are unfortunately dying out: A lone ferreting for meaning in an alien world. Coleridge was one of the first to attack Wordsworth over the poem especially the first version. Morrison will, I believe, be quite impervious to criticism as I believe 'The Common One' is his 'Resolution and Independence'. The resolution in several songs.
"Oh no never let spirit die/Oh no spirit don't ever die."
Or again, "And when heart is open/You will change just like a flower slowly opening."
And on independence: "I'm satisfied/Cause I made it/The way it is/I'm satisfied (satisfied)/inside."