Best Van Morrison Songs

Van Morrison isn’t a one-hit-wonder. His music career and influence have spanned over six decades, and the Irish singer-songwriter has enjoyed a prolific career.

He’s famous for hit songs like “Gloria” and “Have I Told You Lately,” which has been covered by many other musicians. This list contains best Van Morrison songs of all time.

# 1. Brown Eyed Girl

Song Year: 1967

Released a number of years ago, “Brown Eyed Girl” is still a favorite. Everyone can sing along to the timeless verse, “la la la la la…” and every age group understands this is the penultimate love song. It’s still a popular song played at weddings and dance parties, motivating people to join the fun.

The popular song is about free love from a bygone era and having fun under the sun. The piece embodies youth and love and is as fresh today as in 1967. The hit song put a young Van Morrison on the map and established him as a musician with immense talent.

Now get that la la la melody out of your head if you can. The song is from Moondance, Van Morrison’s second best-selling ever.

#2. Tupelo Honey

Song Year: 1971

Fans have spoken, and “Tupelo Honey” ranks near the top of this list. It’s a slow-swaying love song with a rhythm that’s easy to fall into. First-time listeners might mistake Morrison’s falsetto tone for another singer, but the man is a chameleon and can sing like a trumpet.

Tupelo Honey explores an impromptu chorus, and when Van Morrison reaches his point, we learn that the woman he sings about is angelic.

Tupelo Honey as a product is extremely rare honey, and the song’s meaning compliments the woman he’s describing. The song gently trespasses into a country rhythm, but its offbeat reminds one of a jazz tune.

Tupelo, by the way, is the birthplace of Elvis Presley.

#3. Days Like This

Song Year: 1995

Van Morrison understands spirituality and what it means to search for the meaning of enlightenment (you know what it is). This 1995 gospel-like song, “Days Like This,” is for those who need guidance when they feel lost. The woodwind section is resplendent like an angel trumpet exalting the message within the sweet notes of the sultry saxophone trio.

The consummate perfectionist, Morrison delivers his spiritual message because he understands the subject intimately. It’s a #5 song on the UK album charts and a cut on the “Van Morrison Album.”

#4 Have I Told You Lately

Song Year: 1989

No, it’s not Rod Stewart’s hit song (nor Elvis Presley’s). It’s a prayer transposed into a piece of music by songwriter Van Morrison on his 19th album Avalon Sunset. The album is the fifth best-selling.

He sings about the morning sun and how glorious it can be. It’s a spiritual message transcending time, and Van Morrison can massage these messages and make them meaningful. This song declares love to a spouse, a lover, Big Guy in the sky, or whatever the listener needs it to be.

And he’s right; we should give thanks.

#5. Into the Mystic

Song Year: 1969

It’s difficult to say where Morrison gets his inspiration, but “Into the Mystic” is another masterpiece that cemented his talent as a musician and songwriter. Every single lyric is poetry in motion.

The album Moondance, “Into the Mystic,” has a classic theme. The gentle guitar strum caresses the piano, and it becomes a breathtaking expression of love overflowing with emotion. It’s for those with a penchant for life and a sense of belonging on a spiritual quest.

It’s on Rolling Stone’s top 500 songs of all time. Canadian Colin James does a smashing rendition.

#6. These Are the Days

Song Year: 1989

Easy to understand that this song brings meaning and joy to millions of people. The message is clear: live in the present and appreciate the beauty around you. It’s possible to notice the subtle religious or spiritual undertones about some guy who turned water into wine (not sure who he could mean?), yet it also speaks to a broader audience.

While Van Morrison is a master performer and musician, his backup band and vocalists are just as outstanding.

This Celtic ballad is off the 1989 album “Avalon Sunset” and is on the soundtrack for ‘Nine Months.’

#7 Reminds Me of You

Song Year: 1999

This mellow ballad is on the album “Back on Top,” where Van Morrison belongs. The piece laments the loss of a loved one, and the lyrics cry about missing that special person still lingering in every shadow. Anyone who’s lost someone dear can relate to the words.

The song is so heartfelt because Van Morrison wrote it for his lover Michelle Rocca when the couple broke off their engagement in 1996 (they reunited but split for good in 2018).

Van Morrison’s “Back on Top” is his 27th album.

#8. Moondance

Song Year: 1969

It’s difficult to understand why Moondance isn’t the world’s most significant hit ever. The album and song are more structured than his previous work, and the jazz composition could have been more subtle than it was on Astral Weeks.

Moondance is sophisticated, sultry, and ripe, with the sexiest lines ever written in a song. It’s an ode to romance, whether newly found or needing a reno.

The jazzy piano that pops up is divine, and the flute lures listeners in with its lighthearted brilliance.

It’s another top 500 on the Rolling Stone list.

#9. Caravan

Song Year: 1969

As soon as you hear the opening of Caravan, you’ll have an aha moment. The beauty of the lyrics is that one minute you’re celebrating the era of transistor radios and the joy of music. Next, Van Morrison reminds us that music intrinsically connects us to love. The song tells a story of summer fun and exploring youth.

The song is from the Moondance album.

If you listen closely, this Van Morrison song has many hidden metaphors; many make you blush when you get their gist. The melody is infectious and a classic.

#10. Someone Like You

Song Year: 1987

Featured on Van Morrison’s “Poetic Champions Compose” album, “Someone Like You” is a mature love song with a very romantic setting. The piano sets the tone, and this song is for couples celebrating milestones and appreciating each other.

Critics might find this cut too polished and over-composed, but who cares? It does a fantastic job celebrating the longevity of a relationship despite the hardships. The piano arrangement is effortless.

This smooth jazz tune made a lasting impact on those who enjoyed Bridget Jones’ Diary.

#11 Sweet Thing

Song Year: 1968

Die-hard Morrison fans often rate Astral Weeks (1968) as his best and most original album, and “Sweet Thing” is a prime example to demonstrate their point. When you listen to “Sweet Thing,” you might hear a phrase that harkens to one of his other great tunes from “No Guru.”

The lyrics and music are at odds with each other, contributing to its hippy charm. It moves with a freedom that is so elemental in early Van Morrison.

Again loaded with imagery and metaphors, the song is a flagship of sexual freedom and the era.

“Astral Weeks” is the third best-selling album.

#12. And It Stoned Me

Song Year: 1969

“And It Stoned Me” is perhaps Van Morrison’s most lyrically vivid, reminiscent of a Mark Twain tale and growing up. The lyrics are breathtaking and create that feeling of youth, sunshine, the youthful jubilance of friendship, and the experience of a moment’s joy.

The lyrics are overwhelmingly beautiful, with or without context from the source of inspiration.

“And It Stoned Me” is the first track on Moondance.

#13. Philosopher’s Stone

Philosopher’s Stone

Song Year: 1979

Pieces like the “Philosopher’s Stone” sat on the back burner until the music and lyrics had matured and his audience was ready to receive the quiet introspection. Morrison’s fans understand that his eternal quest to find meaning to the big questions is rooted in mysticism. It’s a long tune on his “Back on Top” album (not the “Philosopher’s Stone” album).

The legendary myth of the Philosophers’ Stone is an alchemical stone that can turn any substance into gold or is an elixir for achieving immortality.

Translation: life is hard despite all the good things, and you must keep searching and moving forward.

This song also mentions Jelly Roll Morton, a great and influential musician on Van Morrison.

#14. Gloria

Song Year: 1964

Some songs make musical history; others change the landscape. “G L O R I A” achieves both. Recorded with Van Morrison’s band Them, the song is definitely about a young man’s physical needs and fantasy. The theme is simple and only uses three chords, and Van Morrison’s voice does the rest.

Jim Morrison joined Them on stage and sang with Van Morrison on a 20-minute rendition sharing the verses of “Gloria.” Sadly there is no audio of this memorable performance.

Many radio stations refused to play Them’s controversial lyrics because society claimed they were indecent.

#15. Bright Side of the Road

Song Year: 1979

As a songwriter, Van Morrison seeks inspiration from music and the day’s circumstances that affected everyone. The “Bright Side of The Road” is a tribute and perhaps an antithesis to James Carr’s song. It has a blue grass texture and feels.

The opening notes quickly reach an uptempo driven by the harmonica, the clanky piano, and the wind section. It’s a happy tune where soul meets Celtic folk. The message is clear that despite what’s going on, enjoy life and choose to be satisfied. Van Morrison turned his voice into a tuba in this outtake recorded in 1979 and included in the 1998 release of “The Philosopher’s Stone” and other albums.

Shakira, The Hot HouseFlowers, and Josh Graves have their rendition of this ditty.

Van Morrison is more than just an outstanding vocalist and plays several instruments. Yes, that’s him wailing on the harmonica. He’s an excellent guitarist, a sensational sax player, a drum player, and a star on the ukulele and tambourine.

#16. Crazy Love

Song Year: 1969

True love is possible at first sight, and “Crazy Love” is a dedication to Van Morrison’s love affair with Janet Planet. This delicate and poetic love song encapsulates that any relationship has to endure good and evil. The bad times merely enforce the foundation of the good times.

Van Morrison’s delicate verses are evident in his talent and sublime voice.

Although their marriage didn’t survive, they’ll always have “Crazy Love” to remember it by.

#17. Madame George 

Song Year: 1968

“Madame George” is a nearly ten-minute-long ballad on Astral Weeks. Van Morrison has said that this fictional “Madame George” represents several characters and combines to transcend from music into a miniature film because the storyline is so visual.

The theme is about growing up and leaving the past behind. It creates an idyll prevalent in many songs from “Astral Weeks,” as if Van Morrison was rediscovering himself.

#18. Domino

Song Year: 1970

“Domino” isn’t about the game but the music legend and R&B singer Fats Domino. While the lyrics aren’t as succinct as other works, it has a catchy rhythm. Released in the fall of 1970, Domino remains the best charting single Van Morrison ever released.

The tribute to Fats contains funky guitar riffs, a left-handed keyboard style, and a Memphis horn section that says, party on and have fun.

#19. Queen of the Slipstream

Song Year: 1987

It would be interesting to see what goes on inside Van Morrison’s head and how he achieves such breathtaking poetry in his music. “Queen of the Slipstream” is an ethereal yet heartfelt love song. The song features an entire string orchestra (26 players) to match the magical lyrics to sound.

Any poet would envy Van Morrison’s talent to create texture and emotion with words. The message explains the turbulence within a relationship.

#20. Here Comes The Night 

Song Year: 1964

It might come as a shock, but this epic song, “Here Comes The Night,” isn’t written by Van Morrison. The tune is the brainchild of THEM band member Bert Berns, yet it’s still so fitting of Van Morrison that many overlook that small fact.

The message, endemic to mid-60s freedom of love, is about the expectancy of a lover’s arrival. The song is rawer than some would attribute to Van Morrison, but it’s timeless. Many musicians like David Bowie, The Fabulous Thunderbirds, and Rod use it in their repertoire.

#21. Jackie Wilson Said

Song Year: 1972

That’s the thing about Van Morrison’s complex lyrics; he’s always teaching his audience something new. He references music legend, soul, and R&B artist (Dominoes) Jackie Wilson’s tune “Reet Petite.”

The song is melodious with perfectly timed do-de-de-wops and is uplifting and light on its feet with a 4/4 swing time and a light tempo of 156 beats per minute. One doesn’t need to be an English lit major to recognize that this tune is about a pretty girl’s power over a man.

#23. Why Must I Always Explain

Song Year: 1990

From his 1991 album, “Hymns to the Silence,” this theme song is a powerful statement about how difficult it is to communicate thoughts and feelings without misunderstanding. It’s about defending who he is to his public without wanting to. He makes his point by saying he’s just here to make music.

If this hauntingly beautiful melodic song seems familiar, he uses the same melody from Tupelo Honey and sometimes shifts from one piece to the other in concert.

#24. Wild Night

Song Year: 1971

The song tells how pretty girls attract the attention of boys loitering at the corner of the street. Still, many younger generations recognize John Mellencamp’s rendition, which did proper justice to this effortless Van Morrison classic.

The lyrics accurately depict the urgency of youth and the tradition of dressing up on the weekend. The composition echoes the sentiment and is part of the album Tupelo Honey.

#25. In the Garden

Song Year: 1985

This is perhaps Van Morrison’s most beautiful song ever (severe bias). The meditative lyrics are beautiful and evocative. It’s from the album “No Guru, No Method, No Teacher,” another masterpiece collection.

The piano and poetic lyrics instill a trance-like mood and are so ethereal and endemic to Van Morrison’s powerful storytelling. As a stand-alone song, it’s a defining moment in Morrison’s music career. The song is full of honesty and purity, allowing the listener to add their spin.

#26. Coney Island

Song Year: 1990

Coney Island is a remarkable piece of music and spoken-word song. Coney Island is about a seaside place of his youth in Northern Ireland and a vital memory of his mother.

The song indicates Van Morrison’s storytelling skills; you can hear the rush of the sea and the birds as he recalls this vivid memory. What’s endearing is that Van Morrison reveals a piece of truth about himself and how fond he is of food from his youth.

This song is a masterclass in writing lyrics and performance.

#27. Fair Play

Song Year: 1973

“Fair Play” is a fond play on words frequently used as a compliment in Ireland among friends. Listening to the song is like visiting literary greats Wilde, Poe, and Thoreau. Van Morrison was utilizing a stream of consciousness he developed so eloquently in his songwriting skills.

It’s a jazzy folk song skillfully manipulated by gentle acoustic guitar and piano on the back of an upright bass. The album Veedon Fleece continues the spiritual journey and picks up where Astral Weeks left off.

Top Van Morrison Songs, Final Thoughts

Choosing the best of Van Morrison is complex. Many fans and newcomers might argue about the sequence. However, Sir Van Morrison is an absolute musical and lyrical genius. His ambition and perfectionism are second to none. He’s reached his audience from many perspectives and touched their hearts and minds.

Fans intimately familiar with Van Morrison’s songs can appreciate how his music continues to echo back to earlier songs and ties his themes and messages into a gorgeous collection.

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