Paul Bryant's Reviews > Can You Feel the Silence?: Van Morrison

Can You Feel the Silence? by Clinton Heylin
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Jun 27, 2008

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Van Morrison crept up on me slowly. I was unaware of him for a long time. Then, I don’t know how, I felt a presence near and turned around. He was there, still fat, short, bald and profoundly, I may say breathtakingly, unsexy, and before I could gather my wits he had dealt me a mighty buffet to the cranium. I went down heavily. He was kicking me and yelling “you’re the bastard who writes Amazon reviews which say that I haven’t done anything worth bothering about since Avalon Sunset! I’ve been following you! Okay, you like Avalon Sunset? I’ll give ye a sunset ye'll remember!” Whap! Whap! Yeeouch! Van didn’t push the river and he didn’t pull no punches. I was hurting. As I rolled around on the deck I managed to kick the little bastard in his soft hinderparts and he went down too. I jumped up and grabbed a chair (we were in a chair factory) and I was just about to put an end to the miserable tail-end of a great career when he starts with his pitiful wailing “Naw naw I didnae mean it, it wisnae me, don’t crush my skull, I’m a great artist and I need to write another twenty great songs about how difficult it is to write songs anymore”.

By this time his band members had gathered round the fracas as if we were in a schoolyard (but we were in a chair factory). “Gi’ et to em, jist pannel his heid when ye goat the chance sonnyboy, we’ll all keep the police awa’ likesay – naebody in this particular backup ensemble has any especial feeling of bonhomie fer yon miserable Celtic bastard” said the drummer in a broad Glaswegian accent, which was strange as I knew he was born in Atlanta and had been part of some Motown revival revue for years. Who knows? Life can be unusual. When I woke up that morning I had no notion of visiting a chair factory, and yet, here I was. So as I held the chair (elegant, faux Chippendale) above my head and Van hovered between life and death it suddenly occurred to me yet again that all my encounters with major popular musicians end in violence. And I was sad. But then I remembered the fat bastard himself had started it, he came after me, I was just telling the truth in my Amazon reviews, if he can’t take the fact that he’s a burnt-out case then he needs to hire a few more therapists.

Crash – the chair came down but by then the Caledonian soulster had rolled and scuttled away, he was faster than I thought, like a rat or a water vole. He hid behind a stack of wooden pallets where he began to hurl small harmonicas at me. Maybe he had a supply in his inside pockets, I didn't pause to enquire. As in most of these testosterone-fuelled egofests, the whole thing petered out in flatulent name calling – “I know where you live ye know” – “God’s gonna shine his light on you one day sonnyboy, if you take my meaning” – “anyone who calls you a poet has never read a poem!” – “shut ya mouth” - "mithering aresewipe" – that kind of thing.

So in the end this natty geezer in a suit came running up and said if I didn’t go to the press or the police and if I didn't twitter any of this whole sorry episode I could have complimentary tickets to the next gig and a free copy of every Van Morrison cd. Every one? I asked. Every one, starting with Them. Hey man, that’s great I said, and we shook on it. Two days later this great big package came and I’ve been listening to the whole lot of them. It was worth a few lumps on the head. The concert wasn’t bad either.


***


Note to all relevant parties : This book made me laugh and cry. I absolutely fell in love with the characters!
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Comments (showing 1-23 of 23) (23 new)

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message 1: by Jessica (new)

Jessica Yes, good stuff Paul.

According to an Irish guy I knew who'd lived in Belfast, Van is exactly like this in real life!


message 2: by Noran (new)

Noran Miss Pumkin i so adore you and your reviews. if this was a i film, i would buy a ticket to it!!! wow! i have to check out your amazon reviews. i adore the UK reviews--some of the are so fun, like for a simple ink pen.


message 3: by Matt (new)

Matt
I liked your review very much, however I feel it is necessary to point out one (fairly glaring) innaccuracy: you could not have encountered the bumptious 'Belfast Cowboy' in a chair factory, as you claim, because I happen to know from primary sources that George I(Van) Morrison has a pathological fear of chairs.

Consider that.


Paul Bryant Matt, I think that's a typo you picked up there - Van has a pathological fear of CHOIRS.


Jackie "the Librarian" Van is afraid of choirs? And I thought he just had stage fright. It must the choirs ON the stage that are the problem, then.
Of course, now he's probably deathly afraid of chairs, too. Now Van has TWO reasons not to perform. That's just great.
Thanks a LOT, Paul.


message 6: by Matt (new)

Matt
Ahh I see....that puts his whole "....And The Street Choir" thing into new perspective.


message 7: by Elyse (new)

Elyse Best line ever: (we were in a chair factory)

Second best line ever: All my encounters with major popular musicians end in violence.


message 8: by Sara (new)

Sara That is fantastic!!!! LOL


message 9: by Trevor (new)

Trevor I'm so glad you reprise these - and sorry I missed it the first time around. Classic Paul.


message 10: by Paul (new) - rated it 3 stars

Paul Bryant I make improvements! Also, I make a few new friends now and then and I think they'll like some of the old ones. As ever, thanks for the appreciation.


message 11: by Michael (new)

Michael Disagree! Ancient Highway, Piper at the Gates of Dawn, Behind the Ritual, That's Entrainment, Hymns To the Silence....he's had at least FIVE really good tracks since Avalon Sunset!


message 12: by Michael (new)

Michael You could make a mighty strong EP with his output since then!


message 13: by Paul (new) - rated it 3 stars

Paul Bryant That is extremely amusing! And true!


message 14: by Ian (new) - added it

Ian "Marvin" Graye I can't believe that nobody else likes "In the Days Before Rock 'n' Roll".
The reason Van doesn't like chairs is that he prefers thrones.
A fat arse will do that to you.
Besides, when I close my eyes and let my ears pay attention, Van is no longer fat and unsexy (and neither am I).
Go forth and listen to your loins.
BTW, Van was about 28 when he recorded "It's Too Late to Stop Now".


message 15: by Paul (new) - rated it 3 stars

Paul Bryant not to mention about 14 when he recorded Astral Weeks


message 16: by Ian (new) - added it

Ian "Marvin" Graye I was thinking the same thing before I went to bed.
So that means he did the albums with Them when he was in the womb.
The double Them comp is a must have, if you haven't got it yet.
In those days, Them and the Pretty Things could nearly have beaten the Stones at their own game.


message 17: by Paul (new) - rated it 3 stars

Paul Bryant Bennet that's insane...! Quote from Bob Dylan's Theme Time radio show : "People sometimes say we play too many Van Morrison records. But when I listen to 'em, I always think no, we don't."


message 18: by Ian (new) - added it

Ian "Marvin" Graye Non-attachment. (Whatever that really means.)


message 19: by Paul (new) - rated it 3 stars

Paul Bryant Probably means I am trying to do some wall-papering.


message 20: by Ian (last edited May 31, 2011 03:26PM) (new) - added it

Ian "Marvin" Graye Van knows what you mean:

"Chop that wood
Carry water
What's the sound of
Wall paper flapping?
Enlightenment,
Don't know what it is"



message 21: by Derek (new)

Derek Why on earth this review just showed up in my feed, I have no idea. But I love it anyway.

Clearly, Van is more impressive in print than in interview. http://cbc.ca/q interviewed him a year and a half back, and he sounded practically illiterate – or at least like someone who has done far too many drugs.

Do you think if I told his management that, he'd come out and try to beat me up, and I could end up with a copy of his complete discography, too?


message 22: by Ian (new) - added it

Ian "Marvin" Graye Derek (Guilty of thoughtcrime) wrote: "Why on earth this review just showed up in my feed, I have no idea. But I love it anyway."

I think Paul rolls them over like a calendar block. Up to one point, I think I had read all of his 5's, 4's and 1's. But I haven't gone back for 2's and 3's yet. It would be great if Paul could prioritise re-posting his 2's and 3's.


message 23: by Paul (new) - rated it 3 stars

Paul Bryant Sorry, I'm amending and reshelving and whatnot in order to try and avoid getting flagged as "potentially off-topic". I tick the do-not-add-to-feed box but often it adds anyway.


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