George “Van” Morrison was born on August 31, 1945, in Belfast, Ireland. According to Van Morrison, his father was a shipyard worker who listened to blues, country, and gospel which became the singer’s earliest musical inspirations. Some of his favorites were Hank Williams, Jimmie Rodgers, Muddy Waters, and Leadbelly. By the time he was thirteen, he was already on the road singing, playing guitar, and sax in several different bands. When Morrison was 19, he formed the group Them, which began performing at Belfast’s Maritime Club. These early performances positioned Morrison to become one of the major players in the British R&B scene. Two of Morrison’s earliest songs, Gloria and Here Comes The Night, have been extensively covered. In 1968, he recorded Astral Weeks, an eclectic combination of poetry, jazz, traditional Irish music, and blues. These genres would later play critical roles in many of his other albums. After Morrison moved to America, he recorded 1970s Moondance, inspired by Frank Sinatra’s music. In 1972, he switched gears on St. Dominic’s Preview, choosing to honor his Irish heritage.
Morrison returned to the United Kingdom in 1980 and released Common One, which kicked off a decade of musical mastery, exploring many different genres and working with several other artists, including The Chieftans on his album Irish Heartbeat. He ended the decade working with Georgie Fame during a live show and releasing Avalon Sunset. Throughout the 90s and well into the twenty-first century, Morisson profoundly influenced music and won multiple awards and commendations. Not only has he won six Grammys, but he’s also received honorary doctorates from Queen’s University in Belfast and the University of Ulster, as well as being knighted. Additionally, in January 1993, he was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Hame. According to Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, “Van Morrison’s body of work is one of outstanding quality and quantity. His songs are like the incantation of a mystic, bewitching listeners with intricate lyrics and that unforgettable voice.” These are the 10 best Van Morrison songs of all-time.
10. Dweller on The Threshold
This is one of two songs on Van Morrison’s 1982 album Beautiful Vision album inspired by Glamour- A World Problem by Alice Bailey and the Tibetan Master Djwal Khul. His voice lends itself beautifully to the writers’ vision which is that we all possess mental illusions that blind ourselves from the world was it truly is. Later, a live version of this song was released on Life at the Grand Opera House Belfast.
9. In The Garden
Van Morrison talked in a 1986 interview with Mick Brown about No Guru, No Method, No Teacher, and the Garden. As The song is a meditation, Morrison guides the listener using a technique similar to transcendental meditation through lyrics and his voice. He also suggested listeners listen intently to gain a state of inner peace and well-being. Ironically, this song is featured on an album with a title that seems to denounce the technique.
8. Brown Eyed Girl
This was one of Van Morrison’s earliest hits when he was starting his solo career. Even though Van Morrison wrote the lyrics, much of the instrumentation was producer Burt Berns’ idea. The lyrics in the song are accurate to the singer’s heart, a lilting ballad of romance back in Ireland.
7. Someone Like You
Aside from Having I Told You Lately, this is one of Van Morrison’s most well-known love songs. Released in 1987 on his album Poetic Champions Compose, it has been a romantic movie staple, appearing in such films as One Fine Day, Bridget Jones’ Diary, and Only The Lonely.
6. Have I Told You Lately
Even though this song is a staple at many weddings and other people have fond memories of slow dances to this song, it may be a song about Van Morrison’s beliefs and his feelings about religion. Lyrics like “for the morning sun in all its glory greets the day with hope and comfort too” do sound like feelings of gratitude when you wake up in the morning and feel a divine presence when starting your day.
5. And It Stoned Me
Even though some people may get the title confused, it’s simply a way of saying that you are swept off your feet and heady from the beauty in life that surrounds you. According to Song Facts, many references in the song to loves that inspired Van Morrison, including the refrain, “stoned me just like Jelly Roll,” which undoubtedly refers to an early influence from his childhood, jazz singer, Jelly Roll Morton. Moreover, in Steve Turner’s book Van Morrison: Too Late to Stop Now, the singer talked about the inspiration for the song and recalled an experience from his childhood, saying, “for five minutes everything was really quiet, and I was in this other dimension. That’s what the song is about.”
4. Crazy Love
This song is one of the most often covered songs by Van Morrison. Additionally, Michael Buble used the title for his fourth studio album in 2009. Van Morrison’s timeless track became the fourth single. When Van Morrison was inducted into the songwriter’s hall of fame in 2003, Ray Charles sang this song with the singer.
3. Tupelo Honey
Van Morrison’s wife, Janet, was the inspiration for this song. Additionally, the singer added references to the Boston Tea party to shake it up slightly like he enjoyed doing with many other pieces in his catalog. Tupelo Honey was also featured in the 1997 movie Ulee’s Gold about a beekeeper who makes Tupelo Honey. Additionally, in Season 3 of the classic tv Show Friends, Ross and Rachel dispute the best romantic song, and Ross adamantly declares this song.
2. Days Like This
Many songs celebrate bad days. Yet, Van Morrison chose to celebrate the days in Life where nothing significant happens but the hours just fly by with peace. During one of the scenes in As Good As It Gets, Melvin Udall, played by Jack Nicholson, turns this song to try and ease the tension of an awkward road trip.
1. Into The Mystic
In an article from BBC News, one of the songs doctors play most is Into The Mystic because it’s so soothing. : Listeners can stop at its literal meaning; a sailor dreaming of his love and wanting to be home in her arms. Yet, much like other Van Morrison songs, there’s also an ethereal quality where some listeners may stop and wonder if it’s a song about wanting to connect with a deeper part of spirituality. After all, Isaac Dineson said, “the cure for anything is saltwater – sweat, tears or the salt sea.”