Van played at the O'Keefe Centre in Toronto in 1978, and my friend Fran Trigg and I were hot to see one of the best around. The concert was great, the dynamics and sheer music passion was something to witness, and I even made the newspaper review, - "Fabulous!", a woman shouted, "Fabulous!" Anyways, at the end of the concert, Frannie and I were heading around the corner of the building to her car, when a door opened at the side of the hall, and out came Van with his band and crew.
I turned to Fran and asked her for pen and paper, and headed over. I told him my life story in 2.75 seconds, something like, "Hi Van, I'm a musician and you've been an inspiration for years. “ blah blah.." and he writes, - "To Pam - Van Morrison." By then this long white limo had pulled up, and they all got in.
Just as I'm gloating over my autograph, the limo stops, and a guy gets out and come up and tells ME that Van wants to know if I would like to join him for a drink at the Harbour Castle Hilton. I look at Frannie with the question in my eyes and she says, "Get in the fukin car!" So in I get, feeling really guilty as I am really there under false pretences, and maybe Van is thinking something else.
So, we get to the hotel, go to their huge lounge and I'm seated next to Van Morrison at this huge round table. I blurted out that I had noticed that he mentioned 'the radio' in a lot of his songs. "Hrrmph!" he said, "What are ya gonna listen to in Ireland .. the BBC?? Naw, one of my friends had a short wave radio down in the shed, and we'd tune in overseas to listen to some good music; New Orleans! Chicago! Detroit! Sometimes the weather would be foggy and the signal from the short wave radio would fade and they would say "Turn it up!!" "Turn it up!!"" (as in the song Caravan - "If you will - turn it up - turn it up - radio - turn it up - that's enough - so you know - radio") Then he excused himself and got up and left.
The chap to my right was the guitar player and he leaned over and said, sarcastically, "So, who are you??" I told him my name. "Yah, and what do you do??" Thankfully, I was able to say, "I'm a musician." "Oh" he says, "Are you any good??" I admitted that I was. "If I ask the piano player if you can do a few tunes, will you do it?" I admitted that I would.
Just then Van came back and ordered a glass of milk, I ordered a pop, and the next thing you know, the lady is waving to me to come to the piano. How I did it, I'll never know; some innate sense that I am good enough to try. I played San Francisco Bay Blues, Nobody Loves You When You're Down And Out, and Moanin' Low. I will never forget the smile on Van's face as I walked back towards the table. He was clapping his hands really hard and he said, "That was really good, really good!"
Needless to say, I was a complete babbling wreck, and I told Van I had to go. He kindly had one of his staff drive me to my door, and when I got back to my bachelor apartment, I couldn't sleep for three days!
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