Van the Man Rebels

I have listened to Van Morrison on and off since his Gloria days with Them. In case you have lost track, he is still recording at age 75. And his most recent production–a 28-song compilation titled “Latest Record Project, Vol. 1”–has ignited a controversy. First the music, then the controversy.

What struck me listening to the album, which I am still working my way through, is how good Van sounds. The genre, blues, is not my favorite, but the Man can still sing. The production values are good, too, to my ear. I will leave music criticism to Scott, but “Latest Record Project” is a legitimate album, not something tossed off by an over-the-hill crank in his garage.

Why is Morrison’s record controversial? Because, while most of the songs are apolitical, some reflect Van’s disgust with the totalitarian leftism of our time. Thus, songs include Where Have All the Rebels Gone?, Stop Bitching, Do Something, They Own the Media, and Why Are You On Facebook? No doubt some of the others express wrongthink from time to time, too.

Robert Spencer collects some of the critical reaction to “Latest Record Project” at PJ Media, and transcribes some of the lyrics. For example:

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?


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?

One more, 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

Leftist critics have gone overboard in trashing “Latest Record Project,” as Spencer relates (links omitted):

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.”
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.

Of course, Morrison’s lyrics contain no mention of Jews. That is merely a deflection. The “they” who “control the narrative” and “perpetuate the myth” are known to all of us as left-wing “journalists.”

Last year Van released three songs, plus a collaboration with Eric Clapton, that went after covid lockdown mania and the attendant infringements on our freedom. For that act of lese-majeste, “Variety gave him four spots in their top 15 of the “Worst Songs of 2020….” So the critics were primed to denounce “Latest Record Project.”

I don’t know whether Morrison’s latest will be among the best albums of 2021, but it is good to see that at least one old rocker has not abandoned his rebellious roots. It is a long time since anyone associated rock, or any popular music, with a yearning for freedom; in that context, “Latest Record Project” is a breath of fresh air.

Here is Where Have All the Rebels Gone?