Tuesday, 13 January 2015

I Like It!

"Venice, U.S.A", by Van Morrison https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VytZdq5LPSM
The players are all absolutely crackerjack, and the backup singers sound like a flock of something soaring in tight formation way up there (you know: close to heaven), and the groove is funky and intoxicating. Van Morrison, however, goes a little nuts here. Then again, Van Morrison goes a little nuts once he tucks into a lot of songs, doesn't he? That's part of the fun of listening to this one: he's crazy in love* with a woman in a restaurant in Venice, U.S.A., and then he's in the wet streets of Venice, U.S.A. (which is in southern California, so imagine that) -- sometimes walkin', sometimes strollin' -- as he's leaving the place. (I guess the love hasn't worked out: he and his woman -- she and her man -- are breaking up, so, of course, he's taking his time gettin' out of town.) On the way, three times, he is compelled to sing a really dumb song, which, as he tells us, "goes like this": Dum diddly dum dum diddy diddy dah dah/ Dum diddly dum dum diddy diddy dah dah/Dum diddly dum dum diddy diddy dah dah/Dum diddly dum dum diddy diddy dah dah/Dum diddly dum dum diddy diddy dah dah/Dum diddly dum dum diddy diddy dah dah/Dum diddly dum dum diddy diddy dah dah/Dum diddly dum dum diddy diddy dah dah -- I LIKE it!

Wow! That "I LIKE it!" after the first of the three set-of-eight iterations of all the alliterative goofiness is the exploding heart of the number for me, even though it comes just two minutes into the six minutes-plus of this crazy, stupid, beautiful song: three little happy English words, three small-caliber happy bullets that you'll take over a lot of other ways to die. It's probably about two minutes too long, and I understand why some of you might not want to see it through to its completion, but I'm a sucker for the simple stuff. I don't think Van Morrison is as good a singer as, say, Frank Sinatra (who was always perfectly and emotionally disciplined), but he sure knows how to inflect and bend the groove of a song. In this song (as in many others), he pushes his words into the last empty inch of a beat, or crams them in up front, and you think he's gonna fall on his face in front of the next one, but he always hits his mark. And he repeats himself so unpredictably (when you think twice would be good, he thinks thrice, or vice-versa, and he's always right) that you can't let yourself breathe easily until the fade. His voice sometimes goes out of control, but, Jesus, does it go, and who cares about an occasional vocal spasm of madness? I don't, because the singing is about love, the thing that makes everyone lose control at least once in a while, and because, as I've already suggested, all the other singers and players are in control all the way, especially all those background almost-angels as they sing and sing and sing that diddly-dumb refrain right to the end of this so happy, so sad, so stupid, so funky, so entrancing song.
I like it!
(* An earlier Van Morrison song is called "Crazy Love", and although it's a sweet, gentle little thing, it comes nowhere near the Vanarchical beauty of "Venice, U.S.A." See -- no, hear -- for yourself: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6vS8GKcl9KQ 

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