Considering that Morrison grew up in Belfast before the days of rock and roll, it is important to remember just what his sources of inspiration were. Anybody who has ever been there would agree that Ireland wears its culture proudly. No matter how immersed in American blues he was, the ingredients supplied by his home country must have been equally influential. From a distance, Irish music and American blues seem to be worlds apart. Upon closer examination, though, the experiences of black Americans and the colonized Irish bear comparisons that are more than superficial. Musically, the similarities are fundamental. Both rely on simple structure to express complex emotions. But while Irish music tends to be congregational, the blues tends to be private. Gospel, then, is the interface that links Negro blues to Irish balladry. The sense of continuity that gospel music nourishes shares common ground with the spirituality of Celtic music. This is why Morrison can be both a great Irish singer and a great blues singer without any compromise toward either. It also explains how he can sing one of the most effective and authentic tributes to R&B while maintaining his own inimitable style.
- Thomas Ryan, American Hit Radio, Prima Entertainment, 1996.
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