Song of the Day #814: ‘Brown-Eyed Girl’ – Van Morrison

Top Ten Male Vocalists – #9 – Van Morrison

Like a lot of people on this list, Van the Man earns my admiration for far more than just his voice. He’s responsible for Moondance, after all, one of the finest albums ever recorded. But his distinctive vocals have always been a huge part of his appeal for me.

Counting Crows’ Adam Duritz has often been compared to Van Morrison, both favorably and unfavorably. I see the connection… a certain earthy-quirkiness and rhythmic quality they share. But, though I prefer Counting Crows to Morrison overall, I like Van’s voice more than Duritz’s.

I think I like Van Morrison’s voice as much for the mood it puts me in as its actual sound. His songs deliver me not to a specific time and place in my own life but to someplace that feels outside of time. Someplace warm and friendly… and most likely Irish.

Here’s the one non-Moondance song of his that I love (as I wrote a couple of weeks ago, I don’t really know 90% of Van Morrison’s music). This song is even more special to me now that I live in a house full of brown-eyed girls.

Hey where did we go,
Days when the rains came
Down in the hollow,
Playin’ a new game,
Laughing and a running hey, hey
Skipping and a jumping
In the misty morning fog with
Our hearts a thumpin’ and you
My brown-eyed girl,
You my brown-eyed girl.

Whatever happened
To Tuesday and so slow
Going down the old mine
With a transistor radio
Standing in the sunlight laughing,
Hiding behind a rainbow’s wall,
Slipping and sliding
All along the water fall, with you
My brown-eyed girl,
You my brown-eyed girl.

Do you remember when we used to sing,
Sha la la la la la la la la la la te da

So hard to find my way,
Now that I’m all on my own.
I saw you just the other day,
My how you have grown,
Cast my memory back there, Lord
Sometime I’m overcome thinking ’bout
Making love in the green grass
Behind the stadium with you
My brown-eyed girl
You my brown-eyed girl

Do you remember when we used to sing
Sha la la la la la la la la la la te da

3 thoughts on “Song of the Day #814: ‘Brown-Eyed Girl’ – Van Morrison

  1. Amy says:

    🙂 I’m not sure what put me in a warmer and happier mood – this song or the last line of your post. Regardless, I’m there. But I can’t say that it feels particularly Irish.

    When Ned was here a few months ago, he was railing against this song, as it is one he is beckoned to play by drunk girls at parties. I guess it’s one of those most requested cover songs that a musician might come to resent. Still, it’s difficult to imagine how playing these notes and singing these words wouldn’t make a person as happy as listening to them.

    Yup, I love his voice, but I particularly love this song.

  2. Dana says:

    Interesting pick. Not really a great voice by any traditional standard, but the distinctiveness of his voice and that earthy quality enhances whatever song he is singing.

    I think I made this point months ago–but, when it comes to vocals, for me, the true test as to how much I appreciate those vocals is where I find myself interested in listening to songs I probably wouldn’t otherwise like or might even disdain, but they somehow become listenable when sung by a particular artist. When I made this point earlier, I believe I specifically referenced Sting as someone who could sing “Row, Row, Row Your Boat” or some other inane song, and yet I would be drawn to it because of his vocal quality. Here, I like both the song and the singer in equal parts.

    So, as we go through the next two weeks–that is the standard I will be applying to your choices. And i think in large measure Van passes that test. I’ve heard less familiar songs and covers pop up on satellite radio over the past few years—and, in each case, I found the song more interesting and enjoyable because of that warm earthy gruff quality he brings to the presentation. The same largely holds true for Duritz, by the way, for similar reasons. I’m not sure if yesterday’s choice would have held up under that test, although, to be fair, I am far less familiar with his voice generally to make that call.

    As for Ned and his contempt for this song—what can I say? He also expressed contempt for the Crows’ “Mr. Jones.” I think he just resents all things popular and commercially successful musically, particularly when he is asked to play these songs in a bar.:)

  3. pegclifton says:

    I love this song, the lyrics and especially your last comment 🙂

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