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Begorrah: It’s St. Patricks Day On Hyndford Street and Cypress Avenue

Take me back, take me way, way, way back
On Hyndford Street
Where you could feel the silence at half past eleven
On long summer nights
As the wireless played Radio Luxembourg
And the voices whispered across Beechie River
In the quietness as we sank into restful slumber in the silence
And carried on dreaming, in God

And walks up Cherry Valley from North Road Bridge, railway line
On sunny summer afternoons
Picking apples from the side of the tracks
That spilled over from the gardens of the houses on Cyprus Avenue
Watching the moth catcher working the floodlights in the evenings
And meeting down by the pylons

Playing round Mrs. Kelly’s lamp
Going out to Holywood on the bus
And walking from the end of the lines to the seaside
Stopping at Fusco’s for ice cream
In the days before rock ‘n’ roll

Hyndford Street, Abetta Parade
Orangefield, St. Donard’s Church
Sunday six-bells, and in between the silence there was conversation
And laughter, and music and singing, and shivers up the back of the neck

And tuning in to Luxembourg late at night
And jazz and blues records during the day
Also Debussy on the third program
Early mornings when contemplation was best

Going up the Castlereagh hills
And the cregagh glens in summer and coming back
To Hyndford Street, feeling wondrous and lit up inside
With a sense of everlasting life

And reading Mr. Jelly Roll and Big Bill Broonzy
And “Really The Blues” by “Mezz” Mezzrow
And “Dharma Bums” by Jack Kerouac
Over and over again

And voices echoing late at night over Beechie River
And it’s always being now, and it’s always being now
It’s always now

Can you feel the silence?
On Hyndford Street where you could feel the silence
At half past eleven on long summer nights
As the wireless played Radio Luxembourg
And the voices whispered across Beechie River
And in the quietness we sank into restful slumber in silence
And carried on dreaming in God.

Carried on dreaming in God up on Cypress Avenue:

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  • captflee March 17, 2019, 6:56 PM


    Thanks for that one! Old Sir Van expresses a fine sense of attachment to place not often seen in our increasingly atomized and deracinated world. So did the Kinks, as in “Muswell Hillbillies”.

    My favorite St. Patty’s Day memory is from the City That Forgot to Care nearly four decades ago. Accompanying my friend and semi-professional Irishman, the late and deeply missed Capt. C. V. S., to Parasol’s down in the Irish Channel, and not really being a big drinker, nor fan of crowds, I must admit some dread at the thought of a long afternoon of sour beer smells and silly drunks. What I had not expected was to be subjected to having an ancient, tiny, wizened, and highly intoxicated crone of an Irish sister, Dominican order if my failing memory is correct at this remove, hanging on to me and roaring wildly profane limericks into my ear. While amusing at first, I can assure you that the novelty quickly fades.

    Oh, the tales I could tell of “Mickey” and those years…such as when he and G. B. (actor of some note back then) rang my buzzer about 4:00AM, seeking information on a friend of a friend who might just have some manner of mind altering substance, presumably for Mr. B, as I knew my friend to be abstemious as regarded drugs, though certainly no teetotaler. Rest in peace, Mick…

  • Anonymous March 17, 2019, 9:31 PM

    Van Morrison – Astral Weeks Full Album

    Is this the best album ever made? by Sean O’Hagan on Sat 1 Nov 2008

    Fast forward to 25 September 1968. Morrison, 23, and already in retreat from pop stardom, stands in the centre of Century Sound Studios in midtown Manhattan. In the past few years he had tasted fame as lead singer of Them (dubbed ‘Belfast’s answer to the Rolling Stones’ in the music press), singing on two hit singles, ‘Here Comes the Night’ and the proto-punk ‘Gloria’. His first solo album – released in 1967, and entitled, in the spirit of the time, Blowin’ Your Mind – had yielded another hit, the buoyant ‘Brown-Eyed Girl’. Now, though, newly signed to Warner Brothers, he was intent on reinvention .

    Strumming gently on an acoustic guitar, he begins to sing the first of several strange, stark songs he has been recently performing in small venues on the east coast to general disinterest. Around him, listening intently, are gathered three jazz musicians of the highest calibre: bassist Richard Davis, who had played with the likes of Miles Davis and Sarah Vaughan, guitarist Jay Berliner, best known for his work with Charles Mingus, and drummer Connie Kay, a member of the esteemed Modern Jazz Quartet. They had been assembled, alongside arranger Larry Fallon, by producer Lewis Merenstein, who on first hearing the songs had immediately sensed that they would not work in a rock setting.

    Brooks Arthur was the sound engineer on that same session … When he talks about it today, 40 years later, regret soon turns to excitement in his voice. ‘From the moment Van hit the first note I knew we were involved in something special,’ he recalls. ‘You have to understand, everything was live. There were no music charts. He ran it down once for the players and went into the vocal booth. Then we got the sound levels right and I hit the red light and he started singing.’

    That first working day comprised two three-and-a-half-hour studio sessions, during which three extended songs were recorded. ‘There wasn’t too much stopping and starting,’ says Arthur. ‘Van took off and the musicians went with him. They were serious players, they didn’t have to think about it, they just did it instinctively, and it caught fire. We were working at the speed of sound. I tell you, we were breathing rarefied air in there.’

    On 15 October the musicians and sound men reconvened. In another two short sessions, according to Merenstein, they produced ‘six or seven songs, two of which just didn’t fit the mood of the album’. Larry Fallon then spent another day overdubbing strings and horns on certain tracks. …

    It still seems scarcely credible that, under such strained conditions, an album was created that has since come to be regarded as perhaps the greatest work of art to emerge out of the pop tradition. Released in November 1968, Astral Weeks is a work of such singular beauty, such sustained emotional intensity, that nothing recorded before or since sounds even remotely similar – or, indeed, comparable. …

    When I interviewed Morrison back in 1987 he did not want to talk about Astral Weeks at all. We met in the Chelsea Arts Club. He arrived very late and for the first hour was tight-lipped and combative. It was only when we moved off the subject of his music that he began to open up. ‘Basically, Irish writers, and I include myself here, are writing about the same things,’ he mused at one point. ‘Often it’s about when things felt better. Either that, or sadness… It’s the story about going back and rediscovering that going back answers the question, or going back and discovering it doesn’t answer the question. Going away and coming back, those are the themes of all Irish writing.’

    In a way, Van Morrison has grappled with those same themes ever since. For a long time his albums were about the great quest for home, the search for a place to belong, be that a tradition or a belief system or an actual landscape. In his songs he has drawn on Romanticism and esoteric theosophy, and evoked the names of John Donne and WB Yeats, TS Eliot and Seamus Heaney. On Astral Weeks, though, there is no questing. He is simply there, transported by his words and his voicing of them. No one in popular music, including Van Morrison himself, has since come close to that exalted place.

  • Walter Sobchak March 17, 2019, 9:32 PM

    Sorry It was I who posted the previous about VM and Astral Weeks.

  • KCK March 17, 2019, 9:49 PM

    Van Morrison does to syntax and grammar what a Modernist painter does to visuals. Except, the painter is shitty but VM is a genius. We have far to go as conservatives.

    I listen to VM in the studio all of the time. I love the way he goes. Is it the Irishman in him? Yes. Most of all it’s his artist’s heart.


  • A little bird March 18, 2019, 7:19 AM

    Off topic, but I thought folks here might like to know that the Borderline Sociopathic Blog for Boys is back in action…

  • captflee March 18, 2019, 1:44 PM
  • Walter Sobchak March 18, 2019, 6:08 PM

    So I started to listen to Astral Weeks again. The two best songs on the album are Astral Weeks and Madame George.
    Astral Weeks is pretty straight forward:

    To be born again In another world In another time
    Got a home on high Ain’t nothing but a stranger in this world
    I got a home on high In another land So far away Way up in the heaven
    In another time In another place In another time In another place

    Madame George. That one is deep. Its meaning is much debated. Could it really be about Jesus?