Belfast Telegraph

Van Morrison wrote Brown Eyed Girl and Moondance 'under duress'

By Ivan Little

Belfast singer Sir Van Morrison has claimed he wrote two of his most famous songs - Brown Eyed Girl and Moondance - under duress.

And he said it "gets on his nerves" that some people only associate him with those two hits, which he described as peripheral in his career.

"That was then. This is now," said the 72-year-old star.

Sir Van was speaking in a radio interview with his songwriting collaborator Don Black, with whom he agreed that Frank Sinatra had also been weary of being associated only with My Way.

Reflecting on his experiences after the break-up of his group Them in the 1960s, Sir Van explained how he wrote Brown Eyed Girl and Moondance after he came under pressure from record bosses in America.

He said: "I was going up to Warner Brothers music in New York and they stick me in this room with a piano in it and they say: 'Go ahead and write songs for us'."

Morrison gave the BBC Radio 2 interview to promote his new album Versatile, a mixture of classic songs and reworkings of his own compositions.

He said he didn't listen to much new music because there was a lack of diversity, and he claimed a lot of people copied him.

He added: "I hear songs all the time and I think I wrote that way back when and they just change the lyrics and sometimes they don't even bother changing the tune."

Sir Van, who's been playing regular live gigs in Europe and America, said he was enjoying his music, adding: "I think the music's getting better and vocally I'm getting better. So if it's getting better why stop doing it?"

Versatile is Sir Van's 38th studio album and he said he still loved making records.

"Getting the thing from the initial creative burst of writing the material, adding and subtracting stuff and rewriting stuff and getting in the studio, can take days, weeks, months or it could take years."

Black asked Sir Van if his knighthood had made any difference in his life. He laughed as he replied: "No, absolutely not. No it hasn't, not yet. I should have asked Sir James Galway but I forgot."

However, Sir Van agreed with Black that there was an "inner glow that a kid from Ireland" had been honoured.

Turning to his live shows, he revealed he was often on edge - and stressed out - when he went on stage.

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