Many of you are aware of the Covid-19 epidemic, but fewer of you may know about Van Morrison’s position on the whole thing. That’s right: I mean Van The Man, the Belfast Cowboy, the Caledonia Count and other honorifics. I love Van Morrison’s music so much that I almost, without exaggeration, cannot contemplate life without it. Simultaneously, he is transparently insane. These factors came to a head these past couple months as the pandemic worsened and Van started releasing a series of “anti-lockdown songs” which was completely consistent with his long-running position that everyone and everything is a particular conspiracy against his interests. “Copycats took my words/ Copycats took my songs/ Copycats took my melodies” he once complained about anyone else that ever used an instrument and language to make a song. So it is with this in mind — my combination of admiration, expertise and concern — that I provide my taxonomy of the four Van anti-lockdown songs to date in order of their release. Too late to stop now.
“Born To Be Free”
An ebullient tribute to nature, liberation and incipient illness, “Born To Be Free” could be an outtake from his killer 1970 LP, His Band & Street Choir if it didn’t contain the lyric: “government cramping my style.” It’s catchy! Van can sing the phone book. It gets weird. “The new normal/ Is not normal” is pretty hack stuff, but when he brings in this: “Everyone seems to have amnesia/ About the Berlin Wall,” the frame really changes. What does the Berlin Wall have to do with Covid-19? How deep does this thing go?
“As I Walked Out”
Asked and answered. A pastoral meditation reminiscent of Van’s great 1991 masterpiece “Hymns To The Silence” except for the lyric: “the government said/ everyone should stay home,” “As I Walked Out” is the Rosetta Stone of his anti-lockdown fervor. This is where all of the theories come out. Considering the lockdowns he grouses: “Not many did question/ This very strange move.” And then things get darker still. He starts googling “government websites:”
“On the government website/ From the 21st of March 2020/ They said Covid-19 was no longer high risk/ Then two days later/ They put us under lockdown/ Why are we not being told the truth?”
Oh shit. So hold on. Let’s back up. The government website said what now? Covid is fine? And then two days later martial law. So this is it. This is your smoking gun. Obvious hoax. Problem solved. Or so should it be, if not for the media outlets and government lackeys. They’ve worked overtime to avoid talking about the government website/lockdown discrepancy.
“Why is this not big news/ Why is this being ignored?” Van beseeches.
“No More Lockdown”
Fuck it and fuck you. You all do what you want to do. Van Morrison is through playing cat-and-mouse games with the truth. You people look like copycats anyway. “No More Lockdown” should be called “No More Bullshit” because this is all about one freedom-loving Irishman laying down a predicate for his behavior moving forward. It’s a gorgeous blues stroll that wouldn’t be out of place on 1978’s wonderful Wavelength LP save for the several references to government slavery.
“Who’s running our country/ Who’s running our world?” Van muses, bluesily.
“Study it closely,” he advisedly croons. But we don’t have to study. We already know. It’s a diabolical cabal of Van Morrison haters who have conspired over countless months to create a pretend virus and then perpetuate it through the media so that we all don’t… I’m not sure. Sometimes I have this feeling that Van may be particularly aggrieved because he had something lucrative set up that got cancelled. This is just a private theory. Maybe he had something booked at the former site of the Berlin Wall.
“Stand And Deliver”
No man can stand alone, certainly not in a war with the government website, so most recently Van brought in his old friend Eric Clapton as backup. (Are they friends? It seems intuitive that both would be friendless, but let’s just proceed for now.) Anyway, Van’s newest anti-lockdown salvo was farmed out to fellow warhorse Slowhand, who has indeed slowly but firmly hit it out of the park. It’s a fucking groove, people. It’s in the way that you use it. Anyway, that’s how I remember it. It seems, at this hour, to have been removed from all platforms, probably because it was actively encouraging behavior where people will get Covid-19.
Here’s what I remember:
“Magna Carta, Bill Of Rights/ Constitution, what’s it worth?/ You know they’re gonna grind us down/ ’Til it really hurts.”
The sheer dimension and unvarnished tragedy of the Covid-19 epidemic has produced no shortage of human reaction. Some have taken a cautious, science-based approach and others have been surly and truculent. Then there have been those brave souls who really drilled down on the Magna Carta.
I leave off with this, a quote from Van Morrison:
“And the loves to love to love the love/ Say goodbye, goodbye, goodbye.”
2020. So many goodbyes.