By MIKA ROSS-SOUTHALL
“Who's the Brown Eyed Girl?”, someone called out from the audience at the Lyric Theatre, Shaftesbury Avenue, on Monday night. After a pause, Van Morrison replied: “she’s called ‘faction’”. The packed auditorium shook with laughter. “She’s a composite”, Morrison continued, “not based on any one person. It’s the same thing when writing songs as it is with novels and films.”
It was a unique evening – partly because Morrison isn’t known for talking – of “words and music” to launch a book of lyrics, Lit Up Inside, that spans fifty years of his songwriting. Alongside Morrison, Dr Eamonn Hughes (of Queen’s University Belfast), who helped edit the collection, was joined by the novelist Ian Rankin, the poet Michael Longley and the writer Edna O’Brien who both read selected songs as poems. The second-half of the evening was devoted to Morrison and his four-piece band’s mixture of potent rockabilly- and blues-infused jazz, hymn-like chords and gorgeous melodies.