A great songwriter can take even an uncomfortable or difficult subject and turn it into an enjoyable and inviting song. When two of the best songwriters in the world come together, they can take that same subject and not only create a hit but also illuminate the subject in ways both surprising and moving.
-Jim Beviglia (Pump It Up: Elvis Costello’s 100 Best Songs)
Here are some facts, original version, lyrics & live versions.
Spread your wings
Come on fly awhile
Straight to my arms
Little angel child
You know you only
Lonely twenty-two story block
I was in San Francisco one time in 1966 and I was attracted to the city. It was the first time I had been there, and I was sitting in this hotel and all these things were going through my head, and I had a flash about an actress in an opera house appearing in a ballet, and I think that’s where the song came from.
-Van Morrison (to Ritchie Yorke)
If anyone ever argues that Morrison cannot sing – an unlikely scenario anyway – then simply play them this. All human emotion is crystallised here, and subtly vocalised: desire, joy, hope, world weariness, consolidation, awe & anticipation. The “angel child” here is also a fully mature woman. What sounds like a penny whistle comes in just at the end, almost subliminally. Van´s Celtic phase starts here.
-Brian Hinton (Celtic Crossroads)
Ballerina was recorded during the last Astral Weeks session on October 15, 1968 at Century Sound Studios in New York City. Lewis Merenstein was the producer.
He has performed it live 180 times according to the brilliant website ivan.vanomatic.de.
“Cyprus Avenue” is a song written by Northern Irishsinger-songwriterVan Morrison and included on his 1968 album Astral Weeks. In performance it was a concert highlight and closer for years to come and would end with Morrison’s command, “It’s too late to stop now!” as he stalked from the stage. A dynamic 10 minute version with the usual stop-start ending was included on his 1974 live album, It’s Too Late To Stop Now.
Langston left us about a year ago.
Before he died made me promise to sing this song wherever I went, I told him that I would because he wouldn’t be around to say it anymore
Backlash Blues is the 6th track on one of my favourite albums, Nina Simone’s Nina Simone Sings The Blues.
This was Simone’s first album for RCA Records after previously recording for Colpix Records and Philips Records. The album was also reissued in 2006 with bonus tracks, and re-packaged in 1991 by RCA/Novus as a 17-track compilation under the title The Blues.
Nina Simone Sings the Blues is a classic record that will stand the test of time; it is a true classic. The best version, in my not so humble opinion, is on the album Forever Young, Gifted and Black: Songs of Freedom And Spirit, a fabulous compilation released in 2006.