Before we get into Van Morrison’s earliest recordings, let’s talk a little about his latest.

In 2020 he released three songs, and from their titles you can sort of get the gist of them: “No More Lockdown,” “Born to Be Free,” and “As I Walked Out.” I listened to a minute of each and they’re about what you’d expect. I don’t want to get into a whole thing here, because it’s true that some governments did get a little carried away with pandemic restrictions. I thought it was stupid that in some places you could only go for a walk if you had a dog. And even stupider to tell people they had to wear masks outside with no one around. Some authorities didn’t understand how a disease works and tried to stop all life on the planet just to be on the safe side, and I can see how that would make you mad.

To be honest I’m no longer interested in litigating who was right or wrong about any of it; it would be great to put the whole thing behind us. Of course it would be super helpful in doing that if everyone would get their goddamn shots, but everyone reading this probably knows that, so why get all worked up about it?

Here in 2021, Van has released three more songs from his upcoming album, which carries the helpful title Latest Record Project. One of them is the title track, which is pretty meta:

I have to say, I rather like it. It’s snarky but catchy. Some sample lyrics:

Yeah, we’re gonna get it right away
It’s not something so far away
Gotta catch up what I say
And the present, and the present
Have you got my latest songs I’m singing
Got my latest joy I’m bringing?

“Only a Song” is also quite self-referential:

Only a song, it’s not set in stone, it’s only a song
It’s only a poem that could change in the long run, it’s only a song
It’s what I said then just to make it rhyme
Could have been on my mind at the time
Putting paper to pen, it’s only a song, it’s only a song
Could be back to front just to get it to work, it’s only a song
Get it to jump, get it to swing, so I can sing it

I like this one too. It’s bouncy and lighthearted, and seems to have fully left behind the Gloomy Gus of the lockdown songs.

The third new song was just posted a few hours ago. Titled “Love Should Come with a Warning,” it’s a pretty standard heartbreak song, and no great shakes musically either:

Well, as the late, great Jim Steinman told us (via Meat Loaf), two out of three ain’t bad.

The Latest Record Project album is due May 7, and is slated to contain 28 songs (titles include “Psychoanalyst’s Ball,” “Stop Bitching, Do Something,” and “Why Are You on Facebook?”), with a livestreamed performance to follow on the 8th.1Dare I say I’m a little bit excited? I mean, one is perhaps a bit desperate for something to get excited about at the moment, but it’s the present, the present, for whatever it’s worth.