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

Gary Puckett and the Union Gap: Young Girl (1968)

Gary Puckett and the Union Gap: Young Girl (1968)

Because they are often offered the temptations of the flesh, musicians will inevitably write and sing about it. There are a lot of songs about sex, some of them rather coded. There's also a... > Read more

The Beatles: I'm Down (1965)

The Beatles: I'm Down (1965)

When the Beatles played that historic concert at Shea Stadium, New York in August '65 before 55,000 screamers -- the biggest audience for a rock concert at that time -- John Lennon clearly enjoyed... > Read more

Elsewhere at Elsewhere

HAIL BOP! A PORTRAIT OF JOHN ADAMS, a doco by TONY PALMER (Voiceprint DVD)

HAIL BOP! A PORTRAIT OF JOHN ADAMS, a doco by TONY PALMER (Voiceprint DVD)

Early in this insightful 100 minute portrait of the American composer John Adams by Tony Palmer, Adams cites Milton Babbitt's article Who Cares If You Listen? and being struck by the cavalier... > Read more

THE BLUE AND THE GRAY, a tele-series by ANDREW V McLAGLEN (Madman DVD)

THE BLUE AND THE GRAY, a tele-series by ANDREW V McLAGLEN (Madman DVD)

As much reminder of how a television mini-series and historical drama used to look in the Eighties, this six hour epic across three discs is certainly ambitious in attempting to present the... > Read more