|Sir Van Morrison
Morrison performing in Newcastle,
Northern Ireland, in August 2015
|Birth name||George Ivan Morrison|
|Also known as||Van the Man
The Belfast Cowboy
31 August 1945 |
Bloomfield, Belfast, Northern Ireland
I always record far more than I can use. There's probably twice as much recorded as comes out.
If you're a pop singer, you don't need to evolve. You just get a set together, have some hit songs and play them over and over.
I'm very lucky, I'm happy with life because my experiences led me to do what I had to do. I don't have any regrets whatsoever.
Being famous was extremely disappointing for me. When I became famous it was a complete drag and it is still a complete drag.
I don't feel comfortable doing interviews. My profession is music, and writing songs. That's what I do. I like to do it, but I hate to talk about it.
I'd love to live in Ireland but I'd like to live as me, not what someone thinks I am. People don't understand – I lived there before I was famous.
I write songs. Then, I record them. And, later, maybe I perform them on stage. That's what I do. That's my job. Simple.
Even today, skiffle is a defining part of my music. If I get the opportunity to just have a jam, skiffle is what I love to play.
When I started you were more in touch with the people you were playing to. There wasn't the distance or the separation that there is now.
I never paid attention to what was contemporary or what was commercial, it didn't mean anything to me.
I've never felt like I was born with a silver spoon at all, although I've felt like howling at the moon a lot of times!
These days politics, religion, media seem to get all mixed up. Television became the new religion a long time back and the media has taken over.
I put out records to this day that are not necessarily in a sequence of anything. Some could be written a while back, some not. There is no set pattern.
As a developing musician, skiffle became a platform for me to start playing music.
There's always got to be a struggle. What else is there? That's what life is made of. I don't know anything else. If there is, tell me about it.
Skiffle was a name that was attached to what was, in essence, American folk music with a beat.
I'm not a rock singer and I don't want to be a rock singer. I'm not interested. It doesn't seem to get across.
I do see value in music criticism. Most of the criticism I have received over the years has been very good.
You can't stay the same. If you're a musician and a singer, you have to change, that's the way it works.
You take stuff from different places, and sometimes you stick a line in because it rhymes, not because it makes sense.
I think when you get past your second album, it all becomes something of a routine. So you have to struggle against that, find a way of making what you do sound fresh and new each time.
I went back to Belfast and started a club, the Maritime. No one had thought about doing a blues club, so I was the first.
In order to win you must be prepared to lose sometime. And leave one or two cards showing.
When I started studying tenor saxophone as a kid in Belfast, I did so with a guy named George Cassidy, who was also a big inspiration.
The first piece of music that captured my imagination was probably Ray Charles Live At Newport.
It was really strange for me when I started to play concerts in America where the audiences were all sitting down.
I deliberately try not to cater for the commercial market, so I can't see myself in competition, you know, with second or third generation rock stars.
My records do not require a lot of thought of 'What is this?' and 'What is that?' That would be too contrived for me.
There is no black-and-white situation. It's all part of life. Highs, lows, middles.
My thinking musically has always been more advanced – it is difficult to get it down onto paper sometimes, even now.
I understood jazz, I understood how it worked. That's what I apply to everything.
For a long time, I couldn't actually deal with playing concerts; it was a totally alien concept to me, 'cause I was used to playing in clubs and dance halls.
My ambition when I started out was to play two or three gigs a week. And that's what I'm doing.
I learnt from Armstrong on the early recordings that you never sang a song the same way twice.
You learn to read the audiences after a while, and there are all different kinds of gigs.
A famous person to themselves, they don't get up in the morning and think, I'm famous. I'm not famous to me. Famous is a perception.
A lot of people who were writing when I came through originally as a singer-songwriter have disappeared.
I think Paul McGuinness and U2 created the Irish music industry. It certainly wasn't there before that.