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

Roy Orbison: She Wears My Ring ( 1962)

Roy Orbison: She Wears My Ring ( 1962)

If anyone could have the operatic reach for She Wears My Ring it was the big-voiced Solomon King who scored a hit with it in 1968. Trained as a cantor, King was a balladeer of the old style... > Read more

Bugotak: Kon Togethy (2006)

Bugotak: Kon Togethy (2006)

We could fill the bottomless black hole that is From the Vaults with just oddball versions of Beatles songs. (So far we have been restrained, just Laibach, cartoon character Elmer Fudd and the... > Read more

Elsewhere at Elsewhere

THE KNOW-IT-ALL by AJ JACOBS: Smartening up

THE KNOW-IT-ALL by AJ JACOBS: Smartening up

Some men cross deserts of ice and others sail solo around the world, but New York journalist Jacob’s endurance test was more demanding. Because he felt he had been smarter at university than... > Read more

GUEST WRITER SUSAN EPSKAMP considers One Direction and the idea of the concert film

GUEST WRITER SUSAN EPSKAMP considers One Direction and the idea of the concert film

It’s official: One Direction will be seen in cinemas again. The English boy group released a video message to Digital Spy announcing their new film, featuring footage from the San Siro... > Read more