27 Best Van Morrison Songs

#14. Gloria

Song Year: 1964

Some songs make musical history; others change the landscape. “G L O R I A” achieves both. Recorded with Van Morrison's band Them, the song is definitely about a young man's physical needs and fantasy. The theme is simple and only uses three chords, and Van Morrison's voice does the rest.

Jim Morrison joined Them on stage and sang with Van Morrison on a 20-minute rendition sharing the verses of “Gloria.” Sadly there is no audio of this memorable performance.

Many radio stations refused to play Them's controversial lyrics because society claimed they were indecent.

#15. Bright Side of the Road

Song Year: 1979

As a songwriter, Van Morrison seeks inspiration from music and the day's circumstances that affected everyone. The “Bright Side of The Road” is a tribute and perhaps an antithesis to James Carr's song. It has a blue grass texture and feels.

The opening notes quickly reach an uptempo driven by the harmonica, the clanky piano, and the wind section. It's a happy tune where soul meets Celtic folk. The message is clear that despite what's going on, enjoy life and choose to be satisfied. Van Morrison turned his voice into a tuba in this outtake recorded in 1979 and included in the 1998 release of “The Philosopher’s Stone” and other albums.

Shakira, The Hot HouseFlowers, and Josh Graves have their rendition of this ditty.

Van Morrison is more than just an outstanding vocalist and plays several instruments. Yes, that’s him wailing on the harmonica. He’s an excellent guitarist, a sensational sax player, a drum player, and a star on the ukulele and tambourine.

#16. Crazy Love

Song Year: 1969

True love is possible at first sight, and “Crazy Love” is a dedication to Van Morrison's love affair with Janet Planet. This delicate and poetic love song encapsulates that any relationship has to endure good and evil. The bad times merely enforce the foundation of the good times.

Van Morrison’s delicate verses are evident in his talent and sublime voice.

Although their marriage didn't survive, they'll always have “Crazy Love” to remember it by.

#17. Madame George 

Song Year: 1968

“Madame George” is a nearly ten-minute-long ballad on Astral Weeks. Van Morrison has said that this fictional “Madame George” represents several characters and combines to transcend from music into a miniature film because the storyline is so visual.

The theme is about growing up and leaving the past behind. It creates an idyll prevalent in many songs from “Astral Weeks,” as if Van Morrison was rediscovering himself.

#18. Domino

Song Year: 1970

“Domino” isn't about the game but the music legend and R&B singer Fats Domino. While the lyrics aren't as succinct as other works, it has a catchy rhythm. Released in the fall of 1970, Domino remains the best charting single Van Morrison ever released.

The tribute to Fats contains funky guitar riffs, a left-handed keyboard style, and a Memphis horn section that says, party on and have fun.

#19. Queen of the Slipstream

Song Year: 1987

It would be interesting to see what goes on inside Van Morrison's head and how he achieves such breathtaking poetry in his music. “Queen of the Slipstream” is an ethereal yet heartfelt love song. The song features an entire string orchestra (26 players) to match the magical lyrics to sound.

Any poet would envy Van Morrison’s talent to create texture and emotion with words. The message explains the turbulence within a relationship.

#20. Here Comes The Night 

Song Year: 1964

It might come as a shock, but this epic song, “Here Comes The Night,” isn't written by Van Morrison. The tune is the brainchild of THEM band member Bert Berns, yet it's still so fitting of Van Morrison that many overlook that small fact.

The message, endemic to mid-60s freedom of love, is about the expectancy of a lover's arrival. The song is rawer than some would attribute to Van Morrison, but it's timeless. Many musicians like David Bowie, The Fabulous Thunderbirds, and Rod use it in their repertoire.

#21. Jackie Wilson Said

Song Year: 1972

That's the thing about Van Morrison's complex lyrics; he's always teaching his audience something new. He references music legend, soul, and R&B artist (Dominoes) Jackie Wilson's tune “Reet Petite.”

The song is melodious with perfectly timed do-de-de-wops and is uplifting and light on its feet with a 4/4 swing time and a light tempo of 156 beats per minute. One doesn't need to be an English lit major to recognize that this tune is about a pretty girl's power over a man.

#23. Why Must I Always Explain

Song Year: 1990

From his 1991 album, “Hymns to the Silence,” this theme song is a powerful statement about how difficult it is to communicate thoughts and feelings without misunderstanding. It's about defending who he is to his public without wanting to. He makes his point by saying he's just here to make music.

If this hauntingly beautiful melodic song seems familiar, he uses the same melody from Tupelo Honey and sometimes shifts from one piece to the other in concert.

#24. Wild Night

Song Year: 1971

The song tells how pretty girls attract the attention of boys loitering at the corner of the street. Still, many younger generations recognize John Mellencamp's rendition, which did proper justice to this effortless Van Morrison classic.

The lyrics accurately depict the urgency of youth and the tradition of dressing up on the weekend. The composition echoes the sentiment and is part of the album Tupelo Honey.

#25. In the Garden

Song Year: 1985

This is perhaps Van Morrison's most beautiful song ever (severe bias). The meditative lyrics are beautiful and evocative. It’s from the album “No Guru, No Method, No Teacher,” another masterpiece collection.

The piano and poetic lyrics instill a trance-like mood and are so ethereal and endemic to Van Morrison's powerful storytelling. As a stand-alone song, it’s a defining moment in Morrison's music career. The song is full of honesty and purity, allowing the listener to add their spin.

#26. Coney Island

Song Year: 1990

Coney Island is a remarkable piece of music and spoken-word song. Coney Island is about a seaside place of his youth in Northern Ireland and a vital memory of his mother.

The song indicates Van Morrison’s storytelling skills; you can hear the rush of the sea and the birds as he recalls this vivid memory. What’s endearing is that Van Morrison reveals a piece of truth about himself and how fond he is of food from his youth.

This song is a masterclass in writing lyrics and performance.

#27. Fair Play

Song Year: 1973

“Fair Play” is a fond play on words frequently used as a compliment in Ireland among friends. Listening to the song is like visiting literary greats Wilde, Poe, and Thoreau. Van Morrison was utilizing a stream of consciousness he developed so eloquently in his songwriting skills.

It’s a jazzy folk song skillfully manipulated by gentle acoustic guitar and piano on the back of an upright bass. The album Veedon Fleece continues the spiritual journey and picks up where Astral Weeks left off.

Top Van Morrison Songs, Final Thoughts

Choosing the best of Van Morrison is complex. Many fans and newcomers might argue about the sequence. However, Sir Van Morrison is an absolute musical and lyrical genius. His ambition and perfectionism are second to none. He's reached his audience from many perspectives and touched their hearts and minds.

Fans intimately familiar with Van Morrison's songs can appreciate how his music continues to echo back to earlier songs and ties his themes and messages into a gorgeous collection.

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