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Something Wonderful: Van Morrison – Vanlose Stairway Because Five Minutes With Van Morrison is Never Wasted

He takes you up and settles you down. He takes it all away into the dark, into the silence and then he sings it back into the light.

Sound up and full screen in the evening with your beverage of choice. It will reboot your soul.

Notes on the session on BBC Four: “In the exclusive session, Van showcases tracks from his new album, Keep It Simple, and older favourites such as Magic Time and Vanlose Stairway. He is backed by a full band and joined by special guests: guitarist Mick Green and organ maestro Georgie Fame.”

Send me your picture
Send me your pillow
Send it through krishna
On the vanlose stairway

Send me your bible
Send me your gita
I want to reach you
On the vanlose stairway

And your stairway
Reaches up to the moon
And it comes right back
It comes right back to you

Send me some loving
Send me some kissing
You know what I’m missing
On the vanlose stairway

On the vanlose stairway
Right there, hold it

And your stairway
Reaches up to the moon
And it comes right back
And it comes right back to you

La Wik says: “Morrison wrote the song about his Danish girlfriend, Ulla Munch, from Vanløse district in Copenhagen who lived on the fourth floor of an apartment building with no lift. Clinton Heylin remarks…”he turned this mundane set of stairs in an uninspiring block of flats into a ‘Stairway that reaches up to the moon/And it comes right back….to you’.”

Songs like “Vanlose Stairway” and “Fair Play” are about finding other, far more interesting realities or levels of reality “Into the Mystic,” to coin one of Morrison’s own song titles. A larger point to be made with “Vanlose Stairway” is that no matter what words Morrison is singing, it is the music and singing itself that offers a glimpse at the soul — the true inspiration of the term soul music. And Morrison is nothing if not a soul singer. The lyrics just happen to add to the soul-stirring music. It does not matter that most people have no idea what Vanlose refers to, especially given that Morrison does not pronounce it correctly. But the descending three chords of the verse — played by a horn section and turnaround uplifting chorus — hit the listener on a gut level, especially on the powerful live recording of the song on A Night in San Francisco (1994), which truly transcends anything mere words could communicate.

[This one goes out to Flannelputz who is busy regrouping with fresh ice in the Keys.]

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Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Leslie April 3, 2018, 7:58 PM

    Van Morrison is my favorite, and I have watched the 4 BBC sessions many times. That thing he does with his voice just slays me.

  • Island Girl April 3, 2018, 11:54 PM

    Wonderful

  • Rob De Witt April 5, 2018, 12:04 PM

    Why do they want to sound like Negroes?

  • Casey Klahn April 5, 2018, 12:25 PM

    VM does things with vocals that are analogous to/ scratch that/ they are exactly what painters do when they paint in the abstract. They reorganize. He’s a Modernist singer if I ever heard one.

    Love his stuff.