In 1965, Van Morrison was first heard by the American public when he was lead singer of the group THEM.
Gloria was a quite a big hit in Southern California, though it did poorly on the national charts, peaking at a very modest #71.
Van had a few fairly successful tunes on the Billboard Hot 100 when he headed up “Them,” but eventually left the group and went out on his own.
In the summer of 1967, he had his first hit as a solo artist; “Brown Eyed Girl.”
Interesting to note that BOTH “Gloria” and “Brown Eyed Girl” were censored by many radio stations for “suggestive lyrics” (this is back in the mid 60’s mind you) and both of the songs had to be “fixed,” that is, re-recorded by Van in one instance and “fixed” in another instance, in order to make them more appropriate for “airplay”.
The ORIGINAL lyrics, first, to “Gloria” …
“She make me feel so good, Lord, I wanna say she make me feel all right. Comes a-walkin’ down my street, then she comes up to my house. She knock upon my door and then she comes to my room, yeah an’ she make me feel all right.”
Well, “and then she comes to my room” was deemed way way too too much in 1965 :-)
That part of the song was then re-sung by Van and was replaced with a very very tame “and then she calls out my name”…..there…that’s better.. :-)
Now onto “Brown Eyed Girl”…. TWO things about THIS one….it was originally titled “Brown Skinned Girl,” about an inter-racial relationship. Van then changed the title (and, hence, the lyrics) to “Brown EYED Girl” thinking it’d be less controversial and more apt to gain radio acceptance. Again, this IS back in 1967. We’ve come a looooooooong way, baby!
OK, that’s ONE thing about “Brown Eyed Girl.”
Now, onto the LYRICS (steeerike TWO!!)
“Cast my memory back there, Lord,
Sometimes I’m overcome, thinkin’ about it
Making love in the green grass, behind the stadium with you,
My brown-eyed girl… (oh, oh..wait a freakin’ minute….”making love?”) Did HE say “MAKING LOVE??!!”
This is 1967!!! Radio stations balked…well, Van didn’t have to go back to the studio AGAIN; instead, recording engineers took parts of lyrics already in the tune and spliced together a totally different line from an earlier section of the song: The lyrics “Down in the hollow, playin’ a new game, Laughin’ and a-Runnin’ hey hey Skippin’ and a–Jumpin’ in the misty mornin’ fog with our hearts a-thumpin'” became “runnin’ and a-jumpin’.”
The lyric line was changed to “runnin’ and a jumpin'” behind the stadium with you…
OK…now thaaaat’s better…. (for 1967)….and quite clever of the sound dudes to take “runnin'” from the first phrase “laughin’ and a runnin'” and “a-jumpin'” from the second phrase “skippin’ and a-jumpin'”….to make it “runnin’ and a-jumpin'”…it was ingenious and fit right in where “makin’ love in the green grass” behind the stadium with you USED to be.
The splicing job also assured that an earlier phrase didn’t quite repeat, taking a hybrid of both “laughin’ and a runnin'” and “skippin’ and a-jumpin'” to make “runnin’ and a-jumpin’,” a totally DIFFERENT pair of verbs!
By now, you must be in a fascination stupor!!
We will now leave you to ruminate about the social impact changing the words to TWO Van Morrison tunes to more “family-friendly” versions left on our society and if it averted long lasting and negative ramifications.
This is your professor of music….class dismissed! (and, much to your relief, there will be NO homework!)
Have a great day….
P.S. Interesting to note that now and for many years, BOTH “then-X-rated lyric versions” of BROWN EYED GIRL, with “makin’ love in the green grass” and GLORIA, featuring “and then she comes to my room” are now played on 99% of all radio stations that broadcast “classic hits.”
I DID hear the “clean” version of “Gloria” over the weekend on the sound system of Trader Joe’s in Claremont.
That’s what led to this voluminous expose of one George Ivan Morrison, aka, “Van.”