Van Morrison has an extraordinary knack for inventing brick walls to butt his head against, whereas anybody else would just walk right through. If an explanation were asked for, Morrison, resting between blows, would most likely answer: "Because it's there." This artist has staked his whole career on a wrestle with the unnamable. And unless you're sympathetic to such obsessions from the start, he can be a closed book—seemingly obscure, willful, often portentous, humorlessly full of himself. Morrison's argument is intractable by definition: he can change lives, but only if they chance to rhyme with his.
Lately, though, Morrison has been trying to change himself—inwardly, by way of an...
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