As the creator of “Brown Eyed Girl” and an impressive list of rom-com soundtrack favorites, Van Morrison might be best known to the average listener as a romantic balladeer. The reputation is deserved, but is just one facet of the artist. My list here includes a couple you probably won’t hear in the movies, and one you certainly have already.
“Crazy Love” has been covered often and featured in film (Aaron Neville’s version in Phenomenon comes to mind first), simply because it’s a perfect love song. Van’s version is definitive, however, sung in a hushed falsetto, backed with subtle vibraphone and soulful call-and-response from female backing vocals. As we often see in Van Morrison songs, the singer finds redemption in the love of a woman: “She gives me some sweet loving, brightens up my day, and it makes me righteous, makes me whole.”
This is a typical Van meditation jam, but the beauty here is it’s from the recording session of one of his best records. Backed by drums, bass, piano, and fiddle, Van lays down a sensual strum on acoustic guitar, beginning the song with a spoken intro. When he starts singing “Come into my garden and just look at the flowers!” it gets me every time. I know it looks dumb on paper, but you’ve got to hear it. He transforms a line, repeats it, reworks it and makes it pure and undeniable. The passion builds as the singer pleads to his lover at dawn and the acoustic guitar goes to double-time strum, the bass climbs and falls, the cymbals explode and, well, just listen and use your imagination.
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