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
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

  • Paperback:
    Nov 2011, 336 pages

  • Rate this book


Book Reviewed by:
BookBrowse First Impression Reviewers

Buy This Book

About this Book

Beyond the Book:
Van Morrison

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 article is from the June 14, 2012 issue of BookBrowse Recommends. Click here to go to this issue.

This article is available to non-members for a limited time. You can also read these articles for free. 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 $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

One-Month Free Membership

Discover your next great read here

Join Today!

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket: Caught in the Revolution
    Caught in the Revolution
    by Helen Rappaport
    So taken were BookBrowse's First Impression reviewers by the inside look at the start of the Russian...
  • Book Jacket: Hillbilly Elegy
    Hillbilly Elegy
    by J.D. Vance
    In this illuminating memoir, Vance recounts his trajectory from growing up a "hillbilly" in ...
  • Book Jacket: The Dark Flood Rises
    The Dark Flood Rises
    by Margaret Drabble
    Margaret Drabble, the award-winning novelist and literary critic who is approaching eighty and ...

Book Discussion
Book Jacket
The Atomic Weight of Love
by Elizabeth J. Church

In the spirit of The Aviator's Wife, this resonant debut spans from World War II through the Vietnam War.

About the book
Join the discussion!

First Impressions

  • Book Jacket

    Lola
    by Melissa Scrivner Love

    An astonishing debut crime thriller about an unforgettable woman.
    Reader Reviews

  • Book Jacket

    Our Short History
    by Lauren Grodstein

    Lauren Grodstein breaks your heart, then miraculously pieces it back together so it's stronger, than before.
    Reader Reviews

Who Said...

Failure is the condiment that gives success its flavor

Click Here to find out who said this, as well as discovering other famous literary quotes!

Word Play

Solve this clue:

O My D B

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 books that we believe to be best in class. Books that will whisk you to faraway places and times, that will expand your mind and challenge you -- the kinds of books you just can't wait to tell your friends about.

 
Modal popup -