Saturday, February 28, 2009

Astral Weeks, streets of Belfast, and green yarn

The album Astral Weeks by Van Morrison, released in 1968 has been my favorite album of all time for 40 years. I had no idea it was revered in rock history, thinking I was one of a select few who loved its brilliance, poetry, and sheer genius. To me, it evoked the streets of Belfast, pre-Troubles (before I ever visited), and a long-gone innocence. The album is in the news as Morrison is about to perform it in its entirety in NY this week . But I don't have the $$$ ($99-$400 for tickets), nor could I go to NYC in the middle of a work week even if I did. So I won't be going to New York, but I will buy the new CD.

NPR did a awesome interview with Van last week, including some brillant observations from my current favorite musican Glen Hansard of the Frames (and the movie, Once) who began his career covering Van Morrison songs. Here's a link to Glen singing Into the Mystic and I saw him sing Astral Weeks in Baltimore last May, and there are lots of YouTube videos including Glen performing the song in Belfast.

I am thinking about going to Belfast this summer to the Queen's University 2009 Summer School at the Seamus Heaney Centre for Poetry. Northern Ireland has some of the most remarkable poets currently writing in the English language. I haven't been to Belfast since the early 1980's, when the Troubles were still part of everyday life, and the British army was on the streets. I love this part of Ireland, and after a near miss in Omagh in 1998 (I think I blogged about that in an earlier post), I vowed to go back.

Green yarn will have to be another post....