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"CAPTAIN BILLY’S MAGIC 8 BALL" - A New Series Created By William Mesnik, The Mind Behind “Mesmerized”- EPISODE # 10 - "VAN THE MAN" - FEATURING THE ALBUM "SAINT DOMINICS PREVIEW" By VAN MORRISON IN HIGH DEFINITION WITH NARRATIVE BY CAPTAIN BILLY

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“CAPTAIN BILLY’S MAGIC 8 BALL

VAN THE MAN

EPISODE #10 SAINT DOMINIC’S PREVIEW by Van Morrison (WB, 1972)

Van Morrison is a complicated, multi-layered subject for me. He created the soundtrack of my life for about 20 years, starting with Gloria in the mid-sixties, through Brown Eyed Girl, Astral Weeks, Moondance, Tupelo Honey, through at least Irish Heartbeat. His songs have been in my head, heart, and soul non stop for a third of my life. Despite my adoration for all those great recordings the one I love the best, the one I keep coming back to is Saint Dominic’s Preview. This is not logical. (I mean…Astral Weeks?! For god’s sake; Fucking Moondance!? Gimme a break!) From the cover photo showing him, eyes raised to the heavens, with pants ripped, sitting on the steps of the cathedral, strumming his Martin —- to the kiss ass opener of Jackie Wilson Said, and Redwood Tree which makes me cry every time I hear it, to the once in a lifetime performance of Listen to the Lion where form and content come together with growling magnificence….the whole thing makes me melt.

But, it’s the title track to which I must bow down in reverence. It’s a whole life laid out in layers before me, revealing success, failure, exultation, hope, and despair, choices made and the consequences of those choices. As an aspiring artist I hung on every syllable as if it was a Michelin guide to the exotic, terrifying world that I sought to enter. When he sings “got your pen and notebook ready?” I did. I could never literally translate all the allusions (…as we gaze out on…), but when it culminates to the refrain… “Look at the man, look at the band…” you could find me fist pumping right along.

One more thing: Although the album was released four years before the Bicentennial, I remember playing Independence Day every July 4th in anticipation of the event. This remarkable recording is a tone poem, murky like a Whistler painting, evoking the mystery of the American experiment, a distant herald of fireworks, demarcating a line between a brutal American past and its uncertain future.


By Rich Buckland 05/16/2021 07:56 PM

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