Called a "lyrical visionary" by Rolling Stone and born on this day in Belfast, Norhtern Ireland, soulful singer/songwriter George Ivan Morrison (1945-) grew up listening to Jerry Lee Lewis, Ray Charles, and his father's large collection of jazz and blues records.
He formed the singing group, Them, in 1964 and shocked the world at the time with the lyrics to Gloria, about a wonder woman and romantic tryst:
He said, "From the journalistic point of view, what I do is rock music, but what I actually perform and do on albums has nothing to do with rock…It's a combination of gospel, blues, and folk."
With signature blue-eyed soul, Morrison's deeply spiritual and passionate voice inspired Bruce Springsteen, Bob Seger, and Elvis Costello. "You do what you're doing and if it's going to happen it will, and there's nothing you can do about it," Morrison said.
His first solo hit, Brown Eyed Girl (1967) led a long list of poetic classics that include Moondance (1970) and Domino (1970). An avid reader, he said that his most evocative songs have been inspired by literary masters from Samuel Coleridge to William Butler Yeats to James Joyce.
"I didn't need drugs to have experiences," recalled the introverted Morrison about his younger days. "I had always had experiences without drugs, and so anything like that would impair them. Alcohol would impair them. It produces a false ecstasy."
At times disillusioned with the music industry, yet always true to his musical convictions, he has survived with creative grace and a passion for music. The outspoken artist observed bluntly: "Music is spiritual. The music business is not."
"In order to win you must be prepared to lose sometime. And leave one or two cards showing."
There's only here, there's only now.