Richard Parfitt (Bath Spa) – The Songwriter as Seeker

Wednesday 15 January 2015. 12.30-2pm
CM105, Newton Park. 

In 1964, a Northern Irish garage rock band released their first single for Decca Records. A fistful of spikey singles and two albums over as many years earned Them a reputation for hard-driven rhythm and blues, marked out by a boorish lead singer with a fierce howl and throwaway phrasing that has been described by Greil Marcus (2010) as a voice that ‘gets inside people, and festers there’. After leaving Them behind, Morrison’s solo career would go on to influence generations of songwriters, such as Jim Morrison, Bruce Springsteen and Kevin Rowland. His jazz-influenced vision finally found its crystallization in Astral Weeks, an album of both mystical and mythological status. The verbal tics and grunts and long silences that punctuate Morrison’s songwriting have endured, and as such, are as much a part of his creative process as the lyric and topline, and remain an integral part of the harmonic makeup. Celtic imagery, jazz, folk and blues, all feature throughout Van Morrison’s inward journey and help create a timeless interior that somehow fuses Albion and Americana and a sense that the artist is not tied to the physical world, but is, instead, a remote spirit in the material world searching for meaning and finding it occasionally in song. The songwriter as seeker: restless and constantly searching for the Holy Grail glimpsed once long ago.


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