On my first visit to the American west coast I drove up the coast from Los Angeles to San Francisco and was transfixed at the California I’d heard so much about but had never seen. With the radio on we drove through the desert as we had only a couple of days spare and as we got nearer our destination ( beach barbecue in Santa Cruz) my travelling partner (the fair Mrs R) pointed to the San Anselmo sign. ‘There’s a lovely song by Van Morrison‘ she told me,’ called Snow in San Anselmo.’ Lorraine McIntosh knew her Van better than either of us knew the map of California and the song was the lead track to ‘Hard Nose The Highway.’
I’ve been thinking about Van this year a lot. At the UK Americana awards in January he was the star turn, laughing and telling jokes and clearly happy to be included in the Americana community. Last year he brought out his excellent album ‘Keep Me Singing’ and it has never been far away from the top 5 of the UK Americana Chart since the release. It’s not difficult to make the case for Van’s inclusion in the genre…in fact there’s a good argument for saying he, more than any other artist, defines it.
Recently his catalogue has been brilliantly updated to include a completed version of his 1974 live album, ‘Too Late to Stop Now’ including the original complete show recordings from London and LA and even more recently a beautifully remastered debut album.It got me thinking a little about paying proper tribute to Van’s Americana roots.
So tonight a little journey with a Van! From ‘The Authorised Bang Collection’ via ‘A period of Transition right up to ‘Keep me Singing….some Vanicana! On the way along we’ll play you some artists covering similar material and explain why following the Van maybe the best way to understand Americana music.
We have some new music from new artists this Tuesday. Listen out for first spins for Kaia Kater, Juanita Stein and a new single from Julie Byrne. We have some 7 inch vinyl from Dan Auerbach and great memories from Hank Snow. We will also be celebrating significant releases from two of the most interesting new voices of the last few years, John Moreland and Chris Stapleton. Do make a point of joining us live if you can. We’re live this Tuesday from five past nine on BBC Radio Scotland FM.