The Words and Music of Van Morrison Van Morrison is primal but sophisticated; he's accessible but inscrutable; he's a complex songwriter and a raw blues shouter; he's a steady influence on the musical scene but wildly unpredictable as well. This book provides a useful guide to Van Morrison's incredibly fluid musical identity. Full description.
This book provides an essential guide to Van Morrison's incredibly fluid musical identity. Van Morrison is primal but sophisticated; he's accessible but inscrutable; he's a complex songwriter and a raw blues shouter; he's a steady influence on the musical scene but wildly unpredictable as well, and it's these complex and often conflicting qualities that make him such a compelling subject for this book. Journalist Erik Hage here eschews a cold, empirical study of structures and influence, and seeks instead more natural and intuitive means of appreciating all that is unique, eclectic, and surprising about Van Morrison's impressive output.
In addition to covering almost all of Van Morrison's musical work and offering new readings of many iconic songs, the author also provides a biographical introduction and a complete discography that can help listeners find new perspective on Morrison's body of work. Even in his darkest and most naked moments - in "Astral Weeks" for instance - Van Morrison's songs can still suggest something uplifting. Sometimes these two poles are present simultaneously, and at other times they each find distinct expression in a different musical moment.
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AbeBooks Bookseller Since: 14 March Wonder would most fully expose this talent on Innervisions. In fact, on Talking Book, Wonder already achieved a more realistic sound as a one-man band than Paul McCartney or John Fogerty—two prominent rock musicians who tried to do the same thing to varying degrees—ever did. It is a curious mix.
In fact, Wonder probably bends more pitches in this harmonica solo than he did in the rest of his recorded harmonica output combined. Simply because it is such a stylistic change of pace, the song stands out dramatically. And this is an important song in the Stevie Wonder canon in that it takes him out of the strictly defined world of the apolitical pop musician, and places him into the world of the social and political activist for the first time in his songwriting career.
The political and social commentary of these songs was enhanced by the fact that The Independent Artist, — 45 Stevie Wonder was by this point a well-established musician of wide popular appeal: he was not some new, unproven, radical politico with a small core of followers. The theme of love in its various stages, anticipated, lost, etc. The three songs form a sort of minisuite to conclude the album. There are small hints at black gospel music, especially in the organlike keyboard timbres Wonder uses, as well as in some of the piano fills he plays at the ends of a few of the phrases.
The Sound of Stevie Wonder: His Words and Music (The Praeger Singer-Songwriter Collection)
This expression of hope for a new relationship—one that will hopefully, this time. This chorus hook stands in sharp contrast stylistically to the verses, and in fact, tends to overshadow them. And this despite the fact that it was not released as a single. It was an album track, but in no way should it be considered mere filler material. The casual listener might not find anything out of the ordinary in this, but I find it significant. The arrangement and instrumental performance—not to mention the use of vocables—is simply too distinctive for a remake to The Independent Artist, — 47 achieve quite the same effect.
The record-buying public loved Talking Book and the singles it spawned. The album itself reached No. Music of My Mind only works lyrically if the listener keeps shifting from Stevie persona No. The theme of the album, apparent from its title, was that of Stevie Wonder as a kind of visionary who looks at societal problems in contemporary America and proposes solutions to those problems.
Visual metaphors abound, thereby linking all the songs. Also notable is the fact that, unlike Talking Book, Innervisions featured only lyrics by Wonder, perhaps another reason that the latter package achieves more of a conceptalbum level of cohesion. In the end, she succumbs to the drugs, passing away. Wonder also provides some tasty jazz-inspired drum set. This is worth noting as Wonder frequently uses melodic extensions into his upper register at points of dramatic tension or for emotional effect.
Like other Wonder albums from the first half of the s, Innervisions spawned several highly successful singles. For, even though the verses feature the heavy four-beat feel of funk and hint at the disco that was to overtake American popular music in a few years , the instrumental, fanfarelike sections in the piece move smoothly into triple meter. Wonder handles the move into the decidedly not funk triple meter of the waltz so seamlessly that it seems entirely right and appropriate in the composition.
This is in keeping with the visionary theme of the entire album.
The Praeger Singer-Songwriter Collection Series
Wonder himself has kept this song in his repertoire and performed it at the spring Tiger Jam, a charity concert that raised money for the Tiger Woods Foundation. Here, we find Wonder evoking the ideas of reincarnation found in Hinduism. His message to others seems to be that they should continue to do all the diverse things that they do because they are called to do so. One of the major sonic differences between the two songs, however, is in the way in which Wonder the record producer places the drums as much up front in the audio mix as the vocals and keyboards.
Incidentally, other keyboard-based funky pieces of the period find Wonder using other tonal centers. Wonder seems to be drawn to flat keys more than most pop songwriters.
I believe that this is directly attributable to his work as an instrumentalist, and particularly as a keyboard player. Pop musicians who are primarily guitarists tend to be drawn to the so-called sharp keys because of the regular tuning of the open strings of the guitar—sharp keys sound better in tune and generally are more suitable for guitar technique. Seemingly not coincidentally, they are more highly represented in his keyboard-focused works than sharp keys. This riff comes up in other blues-oriented songs as well: it certainly is not unique to Canned Heat and Stevie Wonder.
The musical arrangement includes generally darker timbres and lower-pitched instrumental accompaniment than the other songs on the album. Musically, the composition is in a somewhat gospel-influenced up-tempo groove. It is not a song that would find its way into any black church, however, because of the eclectic range of religious philosophy the song includes: Jesus of Nazareth and the Transcendental Mediation espoused by the Hindu holy man Maharishi Mahesh Yogi would be at doctrinal odds in the traditional black Christian denominations.
Throughout the s, there were very few examples of such a devotion to recreating the spirit of the great songs of the twentieth century before rock and roll. As a pure, autobiographical-sounding vocal showpiece for Stevie Wonder, there is no better example.
The words and music of Van Morrison / Erik Hage - Details - Trove
It succeeds better than its less-than-stellar pop chart activity would suggest. Over the instrumental introduction Wonder provides a minidrama that finds him delivering pick-up lines to a young woman. This touch of unexpected humor might seem not to fit the song itself, but it serves to humanize the overall album experience. It also suggests that perhaps one reason that he encourages his former lover in her new love life is because he is also actively seeking a new relationship. Speaking of jive talking, Stevie Wonder has over the years had more than a word or two to say about what he has perceived as hypocritical politicians, both in public statements and in song lyrics.
Critics have, however, universally acknowledged the connection of this character to Nixon,18 one particular politician of whom Wonder had nothing good to say. If the song is understood strictly on the surface level, the prettiness of the music casts the antihero as someone who, although pretty despicable, is also someone for whom the listener can feel sorry. If taken strictly on the surface, the song seems somewhat out of place on Innervisions.
As a thematic whole, and in consistency of production and consistency of poetic voice, however, the album is even stronger than the individual songs. Stevie Wonder sustained head injuries serious enough to cause him to lapse into a coma. In the double album plus an extended play bonus disc Songs in the Key of Life, Wonder dealt with politics, social causes, and religion in his lyrics, and used elements of big-band jazz, funk, rock, classical music, disco, and ballads.
Songs in the Key of Life was widely heralded as one of the most important albums of the rock era. In , Wonder produced the soundtrack for a completely obscure documentary film Journey Through the Secret Life of Plants—a collection of mostly classically oriented instrumentals that would confound critics and fans.
The period ended with the album Hotter Than July, which found Wonder incorporating some of the new rhythms and styles of the time and working for the creation of a national holiday to honor Dr. The very title of the album suggests the ending of one part of his life and the opening of a new era. The music itself suggests a nod to the popular bossa nova style of the early s by Brazilian composer Antonio Carlos Jobim. The lyrics find Wonder stating that his friends ask him where God is in light of the problems he mentions racial injustice specifically in the world.
Here, Wonder begins by using a very standard fourbar phrase structure and a simple chord progression in the key of G-flat major, consisting of tonic a chord built on the first scale degree , submediant a chord built on the sixth scale degree , supertonic a chord built on the second scale degree , and dominant a chord built on the fifth scale degree , which sounds at first listening as though it will simply repeat for each stanza. As Wonder enumerates the criticisms of God and religion that he hears from those around him, he uses some daring harmonic motion while extending the musical phrases.
So unexpected is this that it fully pulls the listener into putting his or her full attention on the song. Ultimately, this provides a satisfying sense of completion with the coming of the symmetrically structured chorus with its affirmation that God does provide the answers, provided that humans make the effort to find Him. Therefore, it is not as well known to the general public as it should be.
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Wonder takes short musical motives easily identifiable melodic fragments and expands them and repeats them starting on different pitch levels to build the complete melody. Part of the problem is that Wonder had become increasing self-assured in his lyrics, doing such things as tackling difficult social issues with a voice of increasing authority. It is not a bad song by any means. For this reason, in that it is probably better suited to another performer, this is a rare Stevie Wonder composition of this time period.
Although this one has no inherent autobiographical connection, it succeeds, but then, it is certainly not a ballad either.
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