This will be a bit like a child who never mastered finger painting trying to describe Claude Monet, but humor me for a moment.
I grew up listening to Van Morrison. And I mean ALL of Van Morrison—every album he’s made since 1967 (“The Bang Masters”). My vinyl copy of “Wavelength” wore out at least a dozen diamonds on my turntable between junior high and college.
Van still defines musicianship and vocal mastery for me. He understands music so well that he can bend it, warp it, and get away with anything—just listen to Summertime in England, Wavelength, or Cleaning Windows. Because he’s that good, Morrison can repeat the same phrase over and over again, slur his words (or not even use actual words), and sing about things like buckskin, tupelo honey, and what Jackie Wilson Said (“I’m in heaven when you smile”). And it’s all brilliant!
Jamie and I danced our wedding dance to Crazy Love. Three years later, for my 30th birthday, this amazing woman I married gave me tickets to a Van concert in San Francisco. (I’d never cried at a birthday gift before.) I want his version of Be Thou My Vision played at my funeral someday.
Anyway, all this about Van to say that there’s another artist who strikes me as potentially this good at understanding music: Charlie Peacock.Again, this is coming from the finger painting flunkey who played the bass for two years in grade school, but Charlie seems to be in a league of his own. He’s somewhat of a guru, or muse, in Nashville—he ends up credited on the albums produced by several of my favorite artists, including one of my new favorite groups, The Civil Wars. (Peacock produced their album “Barton Hollow” which released in February of 2011.) His album “Everything That’s On My Mind” is still one of our family’s favorites, and we’ve been listening to it for eighteen years.
Every now and then someone will perform in a way that makes me yearn with jealousy wish that I had their abilities…and their specific art. Van and Charlie are so lyrically brilliant and musically skilled—it seems that they bend music to express their souls—that I rarely listen to them without feeling clunky and embarrassingly envious. But in such an enjoyable way, if that makes sense.
I woke up this morning with absolutely no thought of writing this blog. But then I watched this video of Charlie’s new song, Big River (in which, by the way, he looks freakishly like Van Morrison), and I couldn’t help myself. Here’s the video: