Van Morrison at the Fox, 1.19.16

I grew up with the same fondness for Van Morrison as most children of baby boomers seem to do. My parents went to a lot of his shows over the years; my dad estimates he’s seen him around two dozen times in various venues around the Bay Area. Not to mention, he once saw Van walking down the street in the Inner Richmond (my neighborhood!) in the early 80s. According to the story, my dad’s buddy called out to Van, who turned around, clearly not amused, and kept on walking (yep, sounds about right).

That story—along with the two records I own (Astral Weeks and Moondance, of course) and a few randomly downloaded songs from The Philosopher’s Stone—is the foundation for my knowledge of Van the Man. It’s not much, but I wouldn’t be my father’s daughter if I didn’t see him live at some point. So when word got out that he was coming to the Fox in Oakland, I snatched up tickets right away. Plus, the Fox is one of my all-time favorite venues!


So last Tuesday Alex and I ditched trivia and went down the street to the Fox, mingling with other concertgoers who were mostly my parents’ age. We sat way in the back of the balcony (tix are expensive, yo) so to my already-bad eyes, the man of the hour appeared as a dark suit topped with sunglasses and a black hat, with a saxophone hanging from his neck. I wasn’t even really sure it was him. But once he started singing, it was 100%, unmistakably Van.

The set was surprisingly spiritual—I had no idea! He played a lot of stuff from his 80s and 90s albums, the material I’m admittedly not familiar with. I *was* excited to hear two Them songs (“Here Comes the Night” and “Gloria”), and also enjoyed the bluesy medley of “Baby Please Don’t Go / Parchman Farm / Don’t Start Crying Now.” The band was great, and one of the highlights was when Shana Morrison (Van’s daughter) came out and joined them for two songs, “Sometimes We Cry” and “That Old Black Magic.” Awww.

As expected, it was a very no-nonsense show. I don’t think Van said a word to the crowd except to introduce Shana and an obligatory “Thank you, Oakland” at the end. Although apparently in LA a few days earlier he was busting out movie star impressions?! So unpredictable! But as long as he still sounds as good as he does, I suppose the Man can do whatever he wants.

I know Van’s not one for nostalgia, but I am. And since it’s my blog, here’s a super awkwardly-edited Them promo video to end with (wait for it):

The Man Who Fell To Earth

If this seems late, it’s only because I’ve desperately been avoiding pressing “publish” on a post that requires me to choose both the David Bowie and RIP tags. It still doesn’t quite compute. [And since then, Alan Rickman too?? WTF.]


I’ve been listening to Blackstar on repeat this week. It’s a fitting last album: defiant, haunting, and strangely beautiful. I’d seen the video for the title track about a month ago, and my first impression was that it was extremely unsettling. Although, now that we all know he was aware of his illness while making the album, it starts to make a little more sense. Death, too, is unsettling, and an artist can approach it in so many different ways. George Harrison’s last album was painted with spirituality, Johnny Cash’s was intimate and nostalgic, and David Bowie’s was simply out of this world.

It was really only in the last two years that I really started to appreciate Bowie’s vast, eclectic catalog. His music got me through my first NaNoWriMo (and also helped my main character through some pretty tough times), so I can’t help but carve a special place for him in my heart. To paraphrase that one tweet (paraphrasing a tweet, really?), how lucky we are to have occupied the earth at the same time as such an incredible artist. He was a musical icon, a cultural revolutionary, and probably the only person in history who ever made a mullet look fabulous.

There are so many ways to commemorate David Bowie in a humble digital corner such as this: a playlist, a pictorial tribute, a compilation of his best collabs, and on and on. But I’ll end with a single video. I read that this song became his most played on Spotify following news of his death, and welp, I’m no exception. I love the song, obviously, but I’m posting this because the video is so simple and lovely it makes me cry.

Farewell, David. We love you.