Van Morrison: Background information when reading Oxford Messed Up

Summary |  Excerpt |  Reading Guide |  Reviews |  Beyond the Book |  Readalikes |  Genres & Themes |  Author Bio

Oxford Messed Up

by Andrea Kayne Kaufman

Oxford Messed Up by Andrea Kayne Kaufman X
Oxford Messed Up by Andrea Kayne Kaufman
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

  • Paperback:
    Nov 2011, 336 pages

    Genres

  • Rate this book


Book Reviewed by:
BookBrowse First Impression Reviewers
Buy This Book

About this Book

Van Morrison

This article relates to Oxford Messed Up

Print Review

In Andrea Kayne Kaufman's Oxford Messed Up, Rhodes Scholar Gloria Zimmerman (who has Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder) and Henry Young (an underachieving, drug-addicted musician) become unlikely friends when they're forced to share a bathroom in the Oxford University dorms. Over time, these "loo-mates" learn that, despite their differences, they have some things in common - not the least of which is a shared obsession with the music of Van Morrison.

Van Morrison George Ivan Morrison (born August 31, 1945) hails from Belfast, Northern Ireland. He began his musical career as a young man in the 50s, playing cover songs with Irish show bands. His talent and fluency with numerous instruments - he plays the guitar, drums, keyboards, harmonica, saxophone, ukulele, tambourine, and sings - captured people's attention. By 1964 he had begun his professional musical career with the British Invasion-era band Them. This group recorded several hits, the most popular being "Gloria," with its memorable "G-L-O-R-I-A" chorus. (Incidentally, that's the name of Kaufman's female lead). The song has been covered by thousands of bands since and is included in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame's "500 Songs That Shaped Rock and Roll" twice.

In 1967 he then began recording solo albums, his music heavily influenced by R&B, soul, jazz, Celtic folk music, and Irish mysticism. He quickly rose to fame with his hit, "Brown Eyed Girl" in 1968 - a song that is now in the Grammy Hall of Fame and appears on BMI's list of "most-played radio songs." According to his biography on the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame website:

Like Bob Dylan, he was one of the first contemporary lyricists who aspired to emplace a serious, poetical sensibility in popular music. Morrison's discography numbers more than 40 albums. The most notable among them include the jazzy, mystical song cycle Astral Weeks [1968]; the swinging, soulful classics Moondance [1970], His Band and the Street Choir [1970], and Tupelo Honey [1971]; the deeply personal and revelatory Saint Dominic's Preview [1972] and Veedon Fleece [1974]; and the visionary and spiritual-minded Common One [1980], A Sense of Wonder [1985], Avalon Sunset [1989], Enlightenment [1990] and Hymns to the Silence [1991]. Over the decades he has also released some exceptional live albums... while various later projects have found him delving into skiffle, country and jazz.

By 2008 - the 40th anniversary of the Astral Weeks album - Morrison came full circle and, in a two-night gig in Los Angeles, performed the entire album live each night. According to the RRHF, "It seemed appropriate that he returned to Astral Weeks, since that early album provided a microcosm of the far-ranging musical career that would follow. As the artist himself noted of Astral Weeks, with an observation that holds true for the entirety of his vast catalog, 'It's got it all: jazz, blues, folk, classic. You name it.'"

No matter what style he chooses to plays, Morrison consistently pays homage to poets in his music, making references to William Blake, John Donne and William Butler Yeats, among many others - a fact that might account for why his songs brought Gloria, a poetry student, and Henry, a struggling musician, together in such a unique way in Kaufman's novel.

Click on the video below to hear a clip from Van Morrison's Astral Weeks concert in 2008, or for more information about the man, visit his website at www.vanmorrison.com.

Image of Van Morrison by Silk Tork.

This "beyond the book article" relates to Oxford Messed Up. It first ran in the June 14, 2012 issue of BookBrowse Recommends.

This review is available to non-members for a limited time. For full access become a member today.
Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $12 for 3 months or $39 for a year
  • More about membership!

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket: Divide Me By Zero
    Divide Me By Zero
    by Lara Vapnyar
    Divide Me By Zero begins with an encounter between the narrator, Katya Geller, a 40-something mother...
  • Book Jacket: Mighty Justice
    Mighty Justice
    by Dovey Johnson Roundtree , Katie McCabe
    What it's about:
    Dovey Johnson Roundtree was one of two lawyers who won the landmark case "Sarah ...
  • Book Jacket: The Seine
    The Seine
    by Elaine Sciolino
    Of the 24 members who reviewed Elaine Sciolino's The Seine: The River that Made Paris for BookBrowse...
  • Book Jacket: Fireborne
    Fireborne
    by Rosaria Munda
    Inspired by classical political theory and the French Revolution, Rosaria Munda's YA debut Fireborne...

Readers Recommend

  • Book Jacket

    Mighty Justice
    by Dovey Johnson Roundtree & Katie McCabe

    An inspiring life story that speaks urgently to our troubled times.
    Reader Reviews

  • Book Jacket

    Ordinary Girls
    by Jaquira DĂ­az

    Reminiscent of Tara Westover's Educate and Roxane Gay's Hunger--a memoir that reads as electrically as a novel.
    Reader Reviews

Win this book!
Win Home for Erring and Outcast Girls

From the author of
Calling Me Home

An emotionally raw and resonant story of two young women connected by a home for "fallen girls," and inspired by historical events.

Enter

Word Play

Solve this clue:

W G Up M C D

and be entered to win..

Books that     
entertain,
     engage

 & enlighten

Visitors can view some of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only.

Join Today!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends the best in contemporary fiction and nonfiction—books that not only engage and entertain but also deepen our understanding of ourselves and the world around us.