Van Morrison: On Hyndford Street (1991)

 |   |  1 min read

Van Morrison: On Hyndford Street (1991)

By the time Van Morrison released his double album Hymns to the Silence in '91, many of his longtime followers had moved on -- some disappointed by so many uneven albums, some just having enough Van in their lives.

Over two discs, Hymns to the Silence was just too much Van, and even the most generous reviewers had to note many songs were not a patch on the Celtic soul he had previously delivered. It was overly ambitious, some of the songs were make-weights and others simply circled around old concerns.

There were, of course, great songs too: his heart-stopping version of I Can't Stop Loving You was the equal of Ray Charles' original and the long title track (see clip below) opened up his emotional weariness ("it's been a long, long journey").IMG_1440

The standout however was On Hyndford Street -- about the streets in Belfast where he grew up -- and it was a spoken word, more correctly whispered-word, reflection of childhood and teenage years, and a catalogue of his influences and those musicians and writers and events which had shaped him.

Over spectral synth and not much more Morrison beautifully evokes "the days before rock'n'roll" and in the line "it's always being now" he captures that lost innocence, those years when past concerns or the future simply didn't enter into your world.

In his inflated essays Listening to Van Morrison, Greil Marcus passes lightly over this album and this track, but drops attention on the song Take Me Back which, while one of the better songs on the album (also reflective but more forced and obvious), doesn't for my money touch On Hyndford Street. 

Morrison has made too many indifferent albums in recent years -- but on the strength of songs/pieces like this, even now almost two decades on, I'm prepared to give him the benefit of the doubt and listen again.

He might just offer again something as exceptional as this.

For more one-off or unusual songs with an interesting backstory see From the Vaults

Share It

Your Comments

post a comment

More from this section   From the Vaults articles index

Art Pepper: Smack Up (1960)

Art Pepper: Smack Up (1960)

Art Pepper hardly hid his dependency, so he must have been amusingly drawn to the title of this piece by Harold Land. Pepper had already served time for heroin possesion but after the sessions... > Read more

The Buckinghams: Foreign Policy (1969)

The Buckinghams: Foreign Policy (1969)

Very few today would even remember the MOR group the Buckinghams from the late Sixties. Their big hit was Kind of Drag ("when your baby don't love you") -- although Hey Baby... > Read more

Elsewhere at Elsewhere

Sheryl Crow: I'm With the Band

Sheryl Crow: I'm With the Band

For many years in the States doors would open for me when I said, "Hi, I'm Chris. I'm with the band". Apparently I look like a "Chris" and with long hair I guess it seemed... > Read more

NICK LOWE INTERVIEWED (2011): Looking for that old magic

NICK LOWE INTERVIEWED (2011): Looking for that old magic

A couple of years ago we passed by this way, a phone call to Nick Lowe at the most unrock'n'roll hour of 9am in the UK (see here). But Lowe again laughs it off -- “I have a six-year old... > Read more