here isn’t much better than a CD player full of Van Morrison. “Tupelo Honey” is required listening at our house, as is much of the Morrison canon.
I won’t spend time on Van’s biography; Jason Ankeny of the All Music Guide is perhaps even more effusive and hyperbolic than I would have been.
“Tupelo Honey” is almost too much to grasp in one sitting. From the opening track, the hit “Wild Night” through the long ambitious closing number “Moonshine Whiskey” (it succeeds) Van covers his usual rounds of jazz, blues, Celtic, boogie woogie, folk, and bits that defy categorization — unless we create one just for him. Ever since I heard this album thirty years ago, I have.
Despite the moratorium on rock music at our house when I was a teen, this album was exempt. If my dad wasn’t up to dancing when “Starting a New Life” or “I Wanna Roo You” started, my mom would dance by herself (or drag a horrified teenage son into the living room for a torture session. Fortunately, there were three of us, so escape wasn’t impossible.) When Van was on the turntable, it was instant ceilidh.
In a house full of piano lovers, “When That Evening Sun Goes Down” was a big hit. Right off the bat, Van competes with Mark Jordan’s honky-tonk piano to see who’s having the most fun.
I want you to be around When that evening sun goes down I want you to be around Keep my both feet on the ground When that evening sun goes down
After the first chorus, Ronnie Montrose (who later founded the group bearing his name) appears out of nowhere with a fuzzy electric slide guitar that somehow sounds as antique as the piano. In the end it’s the piano that outlasts everyone else and brings the romp to a finish.
I love Van’s lyrics; poetic or bizarre, he has the Gaelic gifted tongue. I particularly like the chorus to “Evening Sun” since it mentions one of my favorite pastimes:
I wanna hold you oh so near Nibble on your little ear When that evening sun goes down
As they say, a good time was had by all.