I realize nowadays it’s common place for people to sensationalize things, but I promise if you just once watch Van Morrison’s performance of ‘Caravan’ during the Last Waltz you will be in total agreement with me.
For the uninitiated here is a little back story. In 1976 The Last Waltz was the final concert by The Band after 16 years on the road touring. The final show took place on Thanksgiving in San Francisco and numerous musical acts came out to perform with The Band including Bob Dylan, Neil Diamond, Eric Clapton, Mavis Staples, and of course the show stopper Van Morrison. To document the momentous occasion a young director named Martin Scorsese was commissioned to film the concert. If you don’t own the DVD stop reading this and go put it in your Amazon shopping cart.
Seriously go do it now.
Ok now that we are all set come on this journey with me.
0:00 Lesser know fact, we almost never had this moment in rock n roll history. Van had to be literally kicked onto stage just before performing. Do you know what a travesty it would be if this video stopped at 4 seconds? You’re about to find out.
0:07 HERE WE GO!
This is that moment in an American Idol audition when the judges say ‘ah shit, another weirdo,’ and are then left speechless.
0:15 You’ll notice a white glow around Van. That isn’t a spotlight, that’s the same glow that was around Jesus.
0:20 Van was able to do with his full bodied ginger hair what Donald Trump has attempted to do for 50 years and failed. The hair gods like America continue to say, “Fuck you Donald Trump.”
I imagine Van has hair in all the wrong places and it doesn’t matter. He’s Ireland’s national treasure.
0:38 If you’re asking yourself is he wearing a purple velor, check that bedazzled purple velor spread collar suit with a black tank top, the answer is yes.
0:46 Have you wrapped your head around the fact that that velveteen-mother’s touch of a voice is coming from that?
I count four chins, giving young and chubby artists like John Popper and Christopher Wallace hope for a better tomorrow. #Inspiration
1:03 A reverse crab grip mic hold. The first of many ground breaking moments in this performance.
1:21 Look at that perfect paunch and hint of man bosom. If Van wasn’t on stage I’d have no trouble convincing you he was a gym teacher, plumber, or member of the clergy. The creator of Spanx is somewhere in the crowd.
Van is also wearing a blinged out codpiece. The man was both ahead of his time and behind the times. I don’t know how he did it.
1:30 Van is at a 4 and just took the mic off the stand. Marty Scorsese knows this and is having an immediate panic attack.
This performance is so moving that I legitimately know an individual who based his entire college persona off this four minutes.
1:38 Lush sideburns AND a voice as tender as a filet. If God gave me one of these I’d be doing infinitely better.
2:01 Turnt Up! Turnt Up! Say your thank yous Trinidad James
2:18 Wooooohaaaaa Baaaaaby. Van took it to a 6 and a couple in the audience just began to commit coitus.
I’m sweating out of every orifice right now.
2:22 Almost two and a half minutes in and Van has had his eyes open for all of 9.6 seconds. He’s had more cocktails than number of seconds his eyes have been open.
2:36 “Switch on your electric lighT.” Perfect annunciation from an inebriated R&B singer. Only Van.
2:41 Van is gone. Eight different cameras set up for the show and they can’t keep track of him. Marty’s panic attack is vindicated.
2:43 He’s back!
2:58 Sweeeeet Laaaaaaaaadahhhy ovvvvv tha niiiight
3:25 The first ever white guy lip bite. And in that one move Van birthed a generation of men with embarrassing dance faces.
3:29 Van is now only at an 8 and it’s because the rhythm just got a hold of him.
This was also just the opening salvo in a number of dance moves to come.
In all of music’s history there have been five people that look cool scatting. Scatman Crothers, Aretha Franklin, Chaka Khan, Mel Torme, and Van. Do you know how many have looked bad? Countless. Xtina, Jason Mraz, Dave Mathews, David Lee Roth, Anthony Kiedis, and that guy from Korn.
They are going need to go to a wide angle shot in 3…. 2….. 1…..
3:56 Van is now at a 10 and we aren’t even close to his ceiling.
I’ve started jumping on the couch in between typing. Van and I have just reached euphoria and the only substance used was dark drinks.
4:17 The late Levon Helm is in awe.
4:19 I’ve tried for the last 8 years to recreate that dance sequence and still haven’t gotten it right. Oh and Van is doing all of this in high heels. Like. A. Boss.
I’m now doing Rockette leg kicks around the room. Where is my time machine so I can go back to 1976 and do them with my arm around Van. In the last 10 second Van stole the entire show and became Grand Poobah of the evening.
4:25 The stage is on fire. The roof is on fire. Van is on fire. We’re at a 15. Hold onto your butts.
I’ve got the music on so loud that the deer outside just joined in on the high leg kicks. Rabbits are making love like rabbits and the chocolate lab next door just poured himself a drink. The neighbors are now looking through their windows and dialing their phones. Whatever I’m riding this out with Van till the end. Noise violation be damned.
4:30 Van said “salut.” That’s French. Now he’s just showing off.
I can’t breathe.
Has there been a more athletic human since Van? I can’t think of one.
4:35 You just witnessed the first dropping of the mic and he is now doing his home run strut. I confirmed that via Encyclopedia Britanica. Look at that swagger.
4:37 Every time I leave a room now that move is my goodbye.
I’m sweating from dancing. How is Van not covered in sweat?
4:38 The difference between Van and artists today who have had a few drinks on stage, Van avoids the mic stand. He avoids the mic stand.
You can’t see it but Van just poured himself a Lagavulin 16 to celebrate.
4:51 VAN THE MAN