TUPELO HONEY - VAN MORRISON
LABEL: Warner Bros.
TRACK LISTING: Wild Night, (Straight To Your Heart) Like a Cannonball, Old Old Woodstock, Starting A New Life, You're My Woman, Tupelo Honey, I Wanna Roo You (Scottish Derivative), When That Evening Sun Goes Down, Moonshine Whiskey
IMPRESSIONS: This album is the musical equivalent of kicking off your shoes and sprawling out in a hammock during a pleasant summer day. Much more laid back and less experimental than some of Van's other albums (and some people downgrade this album on that account), TUPELO HONEY finds the artist pausing to take stock of himself and his career. Originally conceived as a country album, Morrison eventually changed his mind and ditched half the songs which were very country and added some older songs he had "lying around". However, the album still sounds very, very country and is especially indicative of the era when everyone seemed to be enamored of making albums which sounded like The Band. TUPELO HONEY is a nostalgic, sepia-tinted evocation of Morrison's home in Woodstock, New York which he viewed as an idyllic refuge until the 1969 concert and 1970 concert film turned it into a tourist mecca and he decided he needed to move out. He relocated to California (where his then-wife Janet Planet had relatives) and it is there he recorded this album. The song "Old Old Woodstock" immediately followed with "Starting a New Life" lays out this scenario quite clearly. Besides being a paean to relaxing country home life and the sound of the Band, the album is also an extremely romantic one with Van providing loving tributes to his wife: the impossibly perfect love song embodied in the title track as well as such romantic longings as "You're My Woman" (which Van wrote sitting at the piano in the recording studio) and "I Wanna Roo You (Scottish Derivative)" ("roo" means "to woo"). However, this is not completely a quiet album; the lead-off track is the seminal rocker "Wild Night" featuring Ronnie Montrose on guitar and there is the honky tonk, rolling piano tune of "When the Evening Sun Goes Down" as well as the final track "Moonshine Whiskey" (which Morrison has said was written for "Janis Joplin or something") which alternates between a slow 6/8 time as a fast 4/4. Morrison himself has expressed some disappointment with the album stating that it doesn't feel fresh owing to his use of a lot of older songs he hadn't yet recorded. As if songs had a sell-by date. Whether a song is good or bad has no relation to when it was written and, while Van may have had the songs laying around for a while, they were brand new to everyone else. TUPELO HONEY may not be groundbreaking stuff but it obviously wasn't intended to be; the album succeeds in its intentions. My acquisition of this album goes back to the late 80s-early 90s camping trips we all went on with my late friend Cindy and her husband Rob; this and Van Morrison's greatest hits were recurring soundtracks and always remind me of those times. It is, indeed, the perfect album for reminiscing.
MY FAVOURITE TRACKS: Wild Night, Old Old Woodstock, You're My Woman, Tupelo Honey, I Wanna Roo You (Scottish Derivative), When That Evening Sun Goes Down
GUEST ARTISTS: Ronnie Montrose (guitar)
FACT SHEET: TUPELO HONEY is Van Morrison's fifth album. It went to #27 on the Billboard album charts and has been certified gold.