Van Morrison (“Brown-Eyed Girl,” “Gloria,” “Domino”) is 75 now, but he is more anti-establishment than ever. However, instead of posturing about being marginalized while enjoying elite status like so many on the left today, who like to pretend that we still live in Eisenhower’s gray-flannel, button-down America of leftist myth, Van the Man is bucking the real establishment: the authoritarian woke nanny state that is the idiot stepchild of the hippie culture for which he was once a foremost voice.
Morrison’s just-released new album, the utilitarianly-named Latest Record Project Volume 1, speaks real truth to actual power, in sharp contrast to today’s legion of multimillionaire singers and Hollywood stars who strut around pretending to be defiant outcasts. Morrison skewers them, too, singing:
Where have all the rebels gone?
Hiding behind computer screens
Where’s the spirit, where’s the soul?
Where have all the rebels gone?
Why don’t they come out of the woodwork now?
One for the money, two for the show
It’s not very rock and roll
Where have all the rebels gone?
What does Morrison want us to rebel against? The social media oligarchy that exercises near-total control over the public discourse, for one thing:
Why are you on Facebook?
Why do you need second-hand friends?
Why do you really care who’s trending?
Or is there something you’re defending?
Get a life, is it that empty and sad?
Another target is the “journalists” who have transformed the establishment media from a news source to a manipulative and deceptive propaganda organ for the far-left, in the song “They Own the Media”:
They tell us that ignorance is bliss
I guess by those that control the media, it is
They own the media, they control the stories we are told
If you ever try to go against them, you will be ignored…
They control the narrative, they perpetuate the myth
Keep on telling you lies, tell you ignorance is bliss
Believe it all and you’ll never get, never get wise
To the truth, ‘cause they control everything you do
Predictably, the leftist establishment is enraged at all this, and is out to destroy Morrison for daring to step outside what it has set as the acceptable parameters of public discourse. The ugliest aspect of this has been accusations of anti-Semitism, based on…absolutely nothing. The Los Angeles Times leveled this accusation even in the act of admitting it was baseless: “And about ‘They Own the Media’? While the song doesn’t explicitly name Jewish people as its ‘They,’ it does elevate an anti-Semitic trope that has recently been revived in an even more malicious form by QAnon followers.”
Ah yes, it’s a “dog whistle.” Leftists love those because they enable them to smear conservatives without having to bother with providing any evidence for their accusations. The premier example of this is the claim that Trump incited the January 6 storming of the Capitol, or whatever it really was, even though he told protesters to proceed “peacefully.” His “incitement” was all in “dog whistles,” you see. And likewise, now Van Morrison supposedly is claiming that Jews control the media, even though he never said that, because other people the left hates have said it, and, well, that’s good enough, isn’t it? It’s bad enough in any case that he is exposing the media for what it really is rather than what it claims to be and hopes you think it is.
The left’s rage at Van Morrison didn’t start with his latest record project. In the Fall of 2020, he released three protest songs and wrote another that Eric Clapton recorded that dared to rail not against Trump and white supremacist heteronormativity, but against the lockdown hysteria. For that, Variety gave him four spots in their top 15 of the “Worst Songs of 2020,” not because of any consideration of the songs’ artistic merit or lack thereof, but because Morrison had the temerity to question the sartorial splendor of Emperor Fauci.
And even before that, Morrison has shown disturbing signs of being able to think for himself. In “Educating Archie” on his 2012 album Born to Sing: No Plan B, Morrison sang:
You’re controlled by the media
Everything you say and do
What happened to, the individual
Tell me what happened to you
Tell you up is down, not able to fight
Keep you docile and complacent, can’t even get uptight
Controlled by the media and you don’t know what you can do
They took away your constitution you don’t even know what happened to you
In light of his ongoing defiance and individualism, it’s no surprise that the docile and complacent had their knives sharpened and ready for Latest Record Project Volume 1. The Guardian rubbished it as a “genuinely depressing album,” a set of “depressing rants” by a “tinfoil milliner” (actually Morrison sports a natty fedora). Rolling Stone called it a “largely unlistenable collection of rants and riffs.” If those two reviews don’t get you to buy the album forthwith, I don’t know what will.
In a more sinister vein, Seth Rogovoy fulminated in the Forward: “There is not one single moment of wit, humor or self-reflection on Van Morrison’s execrable new album, ‘Latest Recording [sic] Project Volume 1’ (is that ‘Volume 1’ a promise or a threat?). Morrison gives full voice to his inner Karen throughout the album, kvetching about everything from COVID lockdowns, bad reviews, Facebook, and, insidiously, Jews who control not only the media but pretty much everything in the world. As one critic aptly put it, now we know what the ‘Protocols of the Elders of Zion’ would sound like with saxophone accompaniment.”
The Protocols of the Elders of Zion is a forged document claiming to be the record of a meeting of Jewish leaders plotting how to take control of the world. Yet remember: Morrison nowhere mentions Jews. The charge of anti-Semitism is baseless, dishonest, and irresponsibly damaging, and the media manipulation Morrison sings about is blisteringly obvious. Meanwhile, imagine for a moment what Rogovoy and other leftist reviewers are likely to have written if Morrison had released an album full of songs complaining about Trump, climate change, the “alt-right,” white supremacism, the police, people who believe there are two genders, and the like. He would be hailed, feted, and toasted as “courageous” and “insightful,” with nary a sneer anywhere about how he was giving “full voice to his inner Karen.”
The Van Morrison of “Moondance” and “Tupelo Honey,” celebrated by the left, was a prototypical counterculture figure. He still is.