Van Morrison, who has been prolifically recording music for decades, doesn’t seem to slow down with age and the Northern Irish icon has released no fewer than six studio albums since 2016 alone. However, that’s nothing compared to one outrageously creative day in the 1960s when the former Them frontman recorded 30 songs in one single day—more than some artists record in a whole decade.
Morrison wasn’t going through an episode of undisputed creativity which climaxed in this epic recording session, in fact, the story behind the day is quite the opposite. After the now-legendary artist had left Them, after a few good years that had seen Morrison begin to create quite the reputation for himself, he then signed a solo deal with Bang Records which started off positively but soon things started to sour.
His first output for his new label saw the musician record eight songs which included the glorious ‘Brown Eyed Girl’, an effort which left Morrison under the impression that the tracks would make up four singles and B-Sides. However, Bang boss Bert Berns had other ideas and, without Morrison’s approval, went ahead and released all eight tracks as the Celtic’s debut solo album under the title of Blowin’ Your Mind! — which pissed the singer off, to put it politely.
Only a matter of months following the release of Morrison’s ill-titled debut, Berns would die from heart complications aged only 38, an incident which led to his widow then accuse the Irishman of causing despite Berns suffering heart issues after it was damaged from rheumatic fever that he contracted during childhood.
Without Berns fronting the label, Morrison no longer wanted anything to do with Bang Records and instead asked to be released from his contract—a request which they downright refused. Then came Warner Records who arrived as his knight in shining armour and bought him out of his contract with Bang. The stipulation, however, was that he would still have to record 36 songs for his former label before being free from his duties or they would continue to make royalties off all of his material for another 12 months.
At his petulant best, Morrison then picked up an out of tune guitar and recorded over 30 of the weirdest songs that he could conduct in just one session. Some subjects of his song included ringworm, sandwiches and even one about saying the word France which doesn’t quite sound like it’ll catch on like ‘Brown Eyed Girl’.
Of course, the song’s were deemed unreleasable and Morrison decided it was probably best if he waited a year before recording any material for Warner. After the allotted time passed, he then got back in the studio to record what would become his magnum opus, Astral Weeks, which he would consider his real debut record.
The songs would eventually become available in the ’90s when Bang tried to capitalise on his popularity even though they are quite frankly, ridiculous and rarely go over the 90-second mark in length. Take a listen for yourself, below.