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Is Van Morrison really blues rock's biggest grouch?

The Belfast Cowboy on songwriting, the price of fame and his unjust reputation as a grump. Just don’t mention the knighthood...

According to media lore, an interview with Van Morrison is not for the faint-hearted. The Belfast Cowboy has effortlessly slipped between music genres during his half-century career, from the early proto-punk of Them to the folk-jazz of 1968’s Astral Weeks and the country motifs of 2006’s Pay The Devil. But he has never quite escaped his reputation as a curmudgeon of few words, flaming any journalist brave or stupid enough to put a dictaphone in front of him.

Fortunately, today’s encounter finds the 71-year-old songwriter on talkative form, and eager to discuss his new album, Keep Me Singing, which touches on jazz, soul and blues, bound together by that still-mighty voice and a pervading sense of reflection. Given that, perhaps it would have been best not to kick off with the subject of his recent knighthood.

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