“Fats did not come in
Without those wireless knobs.
Elvis did not come in
Without those wireless knobs.

“Nor Fats, nor Elvis.
Nor Sonny, nor Lightning,
Nor Muddy, nor John Lee.”

Back in the days before Pandora and Spotify, back before YouTube channels and internet streaming, back before iPods and mp3s, before CDs and MTV, before cassettes and 8 tracks, before FM album formats and Top 40 stations, back in the primordial soup of post World War II pop culture, a child growing up in northern Ireland didn’t have a lot of places to turn to discover music.  Van Morrison sings so often about tuning in the tunes from Europe on his AM radio that you get the idea that that’s how he found his musical way “in the days before rock and roll.”  And while he certainly must have listened to Radio Luxembourg or the American Forces Network to hear what he could hear, in actual fact, the wavelength young Morrison was zeroing in on was right in his own home.  

Van’s father was an avid record collector, and the story goes that he started buying LPs and singles during his time in America and eventually built up the biggest collection of vinyl in Ulster.  And not just any vinyl.  The elder Morrison acquired an astounding range of music, from ragtime pianist Jelly Roll Morton to bluesmen Sonny Terry and Brownie McGhee to R’n’B greats Solomon Burke and Ray Charles.

Van once told Rolling Stone, “If it weren't for guys like Ray and Solomon, I wouldn't be where I am today. Those guys were the inspiration that got me going. If it wasn't for that kind of music, I couldn't do what I'm doing now.”

The young Irishman was well and truly inspired.  He picked up the guitar when he was 11, formed his first band at age 12, started playing gigs when he was 13, and dropped out of school at 15 to pursue music with all his energy and passion.  

“Turn it up, turn it up, little bit higher, radio.
Turn it up, that's enough, so you know it's got soul.”