Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Saint Dominic's Preview

Today was graduation day for one of the two schools I work at, reminding me for some reason (I was probably daydreaming half the time) of Van Morrison's fantastic albums Astral Weeks (1968) and Saint Dominic's Preview (1972). Morrison taps into a a deep and strange blend of American and Celtic and global music, partly because he is from Ireland and partly because his father lived and worked in Detroit and Saint Clair Shores, Michigan, absorbing the local sounds like a sponge in a way that deeply influenced little Van to become much more than a traditional Irish musician.

Saint Dominic's Preview starts off with "Jackie Wilson Said (I'm in Heaven When You Smile)," a tribute to Detroit's great, tragic R & B/Soul singer Jackie Wilson (1934-1984, but out of commission from 1975 until his death). The other two knockout cuts are the title track and "Almost Independence Day," which once inspired me to write a fledgling story with that same title.

For anyone who knows Van's work mostly through Them ("Gloria"), "Brown-Eyed Girl" or "Moondance," I highly recommend Saint Dominic's Preview and Astral Weeks, especially if you're curious to hear more of his "older" stuff. And if you're already familiar with these albums, I'd be curious to learn more about your own thoughts about them. . . . .

Today's Rune: Signals.


Erik Donald France said...

A snippet from an excellent elegiac recent album, Down the Road (2002), "Choppin' Wood:"

You wired the trains and went back home to St. Clair Shores
Before you became a spark down at the yard
You were passing through those hungry years alone
You were just trying to make a living out in Detroit

When you came back off the boats you didn't want to go anywhere
You sit down to TV in your favourite chair
You watch the big picture fade away down at Harland and Wolff
But you still kept on choppin' wood

And you came back home to Belfast
So you could be with us like
You lived your life of quiet desperation on the side
Going to the shipyard in the morning on your bike

Well the spark was gone but you carried on
You always did the best you could
You sent for us once but everything fell through
But you still kept on choppin' wood choppin' wood . . .

(Van Morrison) For tons more, see: http://www.vanmorrison.co.uk/

Charles Gramlich said...

Fine lyrics there.

the walking man said...

I do know that Choppin' Wood was written as a tribute to his father.
One thing I always respected his music for was that he opened the doors for so many other Celtic/rock folks.

I may have had St. Dominic's Preview waaaaaay back then. There were so many that dropped by the wayside alng the way.

I did not know of the Detroit connection, that I found interesting. What kind of work did a N. Ireland shipyard worker come here to do?


Protecting Your Rights on the Internet
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Hi Erik,

On behalf of Exile Productions and Exile Publishing, many thanks for plugging Van Morrison and, if you / your readers want good quality, non-pirated, preview tracks from Van’s new album – “Keep It Simple” - full versions of "That's Entrainment" and "Behind The Ritual" (along with album track samplers) are available for fans and bloggers to link on Lost Highway's web-site at http://www.losthighwayrecords.com .

Up-to-the-minute info on Keep It Simple and Van’s 2008 shows is, of course, also available on www.vanmorrison.com and www.myspace.com/vanmorrison and, for a limited period, you can still hear Van's exclusive BBC concert at http://www.bbc.co.uk/radio/aod/radio2_aod.shtml?radio2/r2_vanmorrison and you can also see his BBC sessions at http://www.bbc.co.uk/musictv/vanmorrison/video/ .

Thanks again for your support.



Erik Donald France said...

Hey y'all,

Thanks for the comments!

Web Sheriff, thanks for the links. Also, I just found out that Van will be playing the Fox in Detroit in July. How cool is that?

Three cheers!

Johnny Yen said...

I love St. Dominic's Preview. I have a particularly fond memory of finding that album in a used record store in Cape Girardieu, Missouri, of all places, in the summer of 1988.

Anonymous said...

hey dfrance! its andrew faber, from school. i just wanted to let you know i recently read "detroit noir" and found it absolutely fascinating! the stories contrived from our great city and the entire "feel" behind the collection is mesmerizing. hope everything's going well, good luck with all your endeavors, and thanks for everything over the years!

Andrew Faber

Anonymous said...

by the way, my email address is fabes490@aol.com. thanks!

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