I love his music, and I love the confusion that his name can cause.
A few years ago, I was looking for some music at the library, and a woman, someone who looked like a contemporary of Van, sighed as she saw me clicking through the CDs.
“It’s really very romantic…” She longed to share something. I glanced at the CD cover showing a young and bearded Van, looking gently wistful.
“It is a rather romantic album.” I offered.
The woman stopped and looked at me as though I had slapped her face.
“Not the album, the fact that he is buried in Paris. SO romantic!”
Then there was the Van Morrison concert I went to in a park in Madrid. I went with my boyfriend and another couple. It was a hot summer night, and the crowd around us was mellow as we walked across a field towards the stage. There were girls who looked vaguely like us: smaller shoulder-pads in the shirts, fluffy hair, and guys carrying blankets to spread on the lawn. Everyone really must like Van. There were also groups of heavy metal dudes with their hair billowing bigger than that of the girls walking beside them.
“This is going to be a great concert,” I smiled.
We found a spot and unfurled a blanket over the grass. The guys went for beers and chips, while we girls staked out our places on the blanket. My friend lit a cigarette, leaned back on her forearms, and blew smoke at the stars that are trying to come out.
I leaned back and wished the sky would darken faster. The rockers on the blanket near ours were rolling joints.
“Looks like we might get some residual smoke.”
My friend rolled her eyes. I grinned.
The opening act, La Noche, started to play. The air was thick with all manner of smoke. La Noche finished up and the stage got rearranged for Van.
“What do you think he will start with?” I wondered.
“Who cares?” My friend said. “As long as he plays ‘Moondance’, I’m good.”
“Yeah, Van’s got something for everyone,” I answered, looking over at our blanket neighbors.
Van came out and started to play something lush and yearning, a Celtic melody.
There was a rush of comments from the rocker blankets. “What is this, a joke? Who is this guy?!”
The comments got louder and angrier. The rocker islands got a bit nasty. The mellower rockers just got more beers. Our guys stood up, a wall of protection.
“Is there a problem?”
“Joder, tíos, what type of music is this?”
“It’s Van Morrison. The Irish singer,” explained my boyfriend.
“¡Joder! We came to see Van HALEN!”
Definitely a Van for everyone.