Van Morrison at the Movies: 19 Cinematic Gems to Be Released in February

By (BI) Susanna Daniel

HOLLYWOOD, Calif. -- Van Morrison's music plays a role in many of modern cinema's most cherished films.

Van Morrison At The Movies: The Soundtrack Hits, to be released February 13 by Manhattan/EMI Music Catalog Marketing, collects, for the first time, 19 of Morrison's best-known songs, presented as they've been featured in films.

In addition to favorites including "Gloria" from The Outsiders, "Wild Night" from Thelma & Louise, and "Brown Eyed Girl" from Born On The Fourth Of July, the new collection includes a previously unreleased live version of "Moondance" from An American Werewolf In London, recorded live with strings in 1986 at Los Angeles' Greek Theatre.

The cinematic qualities of Van Morrison's songs make it no surprise that he is one of the most popular choices for movie music. His compositions have graced the soundtrack of many box office hits over the years.

That Martin Scorsese is a Van Morrison fan is unsurprising: the connection was made when Robbie Robertson's former roommate directed The Last Waltz, The Band's historic farewell performance in San Francisco on Thanksgiving Day, 1976. Rock writer and spectator Greil Marcus described Morrison's entrance as the catalyst that "turned the show round... There he was on stage, in a maroon suit and a green top, singing to the rafters. They cut into 'Caravan' (with John Simon waving The Band's volume up and down), and the horns at their most effective -- while Van burned holes in the floor... It was a triumph, and as the song ended Van began to kick his leg in sheer exuberance, and he kicked his way right offstage like a Rockette. The crowd had given him a fine welcome and they cheered wildly when he left."

Morrison's live version of the Pink Floyd classic "Comfortably Numb," featured by Scorsese in his 2006 blockbuster The Departed, was cut in Berlin some 16 years earlier when Roger Waters put on a live production of "The Wall." There was a Band connection again, with Levon Helm and Rick Danko contributing background vocals.

Departed star Jack Nicholson also appeared in James L Brooks's As Good As It Gets, which used the title track from Days Like This, Van's latest album at the time of release (1997). But it's the earlier classics that have inevitably attracted the most attention from directors, even if some have been performed by others.

Not one but two Vietnam movies have featured his music, and, as befits the timescale, they have chosen 1960s vintage material. "Brown Eyed Girl," Morrison's first U.S. solo hit from 1967, was Oliver Stone's choice in 1989 for the Born On The Fourth Of July soundtrack, while the earlier "Baby, Please Don't Go" from Morrison's Them days appeared in 1987's Good Morning Vietnam. Continuing the military theme but moving forward a musical decade, Taylor Hackford's An Officer And A Gentleman visited the often overlooked Wavelength album for "Hungry For Your Love" -- a fine addition to a well above average soundtrack.

At the other end of the musical spectrum, the tender "Someone Like You" was not only a highlight of Lawrence Kasdan's French Kiss but also Bridget Jones' Diary. And Michael Hoffmann's One Fine Day, the George Clooney/Michelle Pfeiffer film from 1996, included Morrison's classic "Have I Told You Lately?"

Mark Joffe's The Matchmaker reflected Morrison's Irish heritage by telling the story of an election campaigner (Marcy Tizard, played by Janeane Garofalo) who visits an Irish village to track down the ancestral roots of the U.S. senator she works for, only to find romance. Suitably, the track selected was "Irish Heartbeat," Morrison's 1983 creation with The Chieftains.

With An American Werewolf In London, John Landis created the classic horror movie. Typical of his witty style was his use of music, and he incorporated a number of different 'moon-themed' pop songs including "Moondance," which, because of the contrast in mood this created, echoed the comedy/tragedy juxtaposition.

Van Morrison has announced several upcoming concert dates.

Van Morrison At The Movies: The Soundtrack Hits
1. Gloria (performed by Them) -- The Outsiders
2. Baby, Please Don't Go (performed by Them) -- Wild At Heart
3. Jackie Wilson Said (I'm In Heaven When You Smile) -- Pope Of Greenwich
4. Domino (live) -- Clean & Sober
5. Moondance (live)* -- An American Werewolf In London
6. Queen Of The Slipstream -- Extreme Close-Up
7. Wild Night -- Thelma & Louise
8. Caravan (live) -- The Last Waltz
9. Wonderful Remark -- King Of Comedy
10. Brown Eyed Girl -- Born On The Fourth Of July
11. Days Like This -- As Good As It Gets
12. Into The Mystic (live) -- Patch Adams
13. Hungry For Your Love -- An Officer And A Gentleman
14. Someone Like You -- French Kiss
15. Bright Side Of The Road -- Fever Pitch
16. Have I Told You Lately? -- One Fine Day
17. Real Real Gone -- Donovan Quick
18. Irish Heartbeat (with Chieftains) -- The Matchmaker
19. Comfortably Numb (live) -- The Departed
* previously unreleased

Confirmed Van Morrison concert dates:
December 2006
30 Las Vegas, Mandalay Bay
January 2007
2 Kissimmee, Silver Spurs Arena
26 Brighton, Dome
27 Brighton, Dome
February 2007
7 Belfast, Waterfront
8 Belfast, Waterfront
21 Los Angeles, Gibson Amphitheatre
23 San Rafael, Marin Center
April 2007
6 Manchester, Bridgewater Hall
7 Manchester, Bridgewater Hall
13 Oxford, New Theatre
14 Cardiff, Millennium Centre

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