Music legend Van Morrison has opened up about his career, including his early money struggles and what keeps him working at age 73.
In a rare interview given to RTE's Miriam O'Callaghan after she tired for 20 years to secure one, he said that when the album Moondance - his third - was released and cemented his stature as a major force in music, he earned no money from it.
Having spoken earlier about the business challenges in music, Morrison said the Moondance issue was caused because his management company had signed his three albums away to Warner Brothers, adding it caused "whole lot of problems”.
At the time, he was paid “$100 a week or something, just enough to kind of survive but not survive very well.
"The only way I could get paid, because I wasn’t getting any money, was if I joined a union for session singers, if I was a session singer on my own record," he revealed.
“So I was the lead singer but I had to get paid as a session singer, not as an artist, because I wasn’t getting anything as an artist, so the only way to get money was fill in the forms, send the forms off and then they would get the money from the record company and pay. But it was very basic, it was a session fee so that’s what I was getting for those records.”
He learned from the experience, insisting on more control for the rest of his career, which has seen him release 40 albums including his latest, The Prophet Speaks.
Asked what drives him to keep producing music, he said: "It's what I signed up for really...It's what I do." He added the fact that fans continue to enjoy the work motivates him.
“It’s something I have to keep reminding myself of. When I think it’s really difficult to keep doing this, then I have to remind myself of things like that," he said.
Of what many regard as his finest, ground-breaking work Astral Weeks, which Morrison wrote between age 19 and 22, the legend said: “I hadn’t a clue about what I was doing. It’s very difficult to relate to it now, because it keeps coming up, but it’s a great album.
“That was that period of time. It’s not relatable to me now, I’m not the same person, I was a kid then. I didn’t know anything about anything, I was just spinning off the top of my head.”
A famously difficult interviewee, Morrison was in relaxed and intimate form during this morning's interview, which was remarked on by Miriam O'Callaghan.
In a personal piece describing the background to the interview, O'Callaghan said she had "adored" Van Morrison and his music for decades.
She detailed the occasions his music meant most - the day of the Good Friday Agreement in 1998 ('Days like This') and when she fell in love with her husband Steve ('Have I Told You lately That I Love you?')
I have loved @vanmorrison &his music forever.After 20 yrs of trying to get an iv with Van the Man,I finally got it&it was a joy&privilege to meet him.Big tks to producer @msogorman -that’s tomorrow Sunday with Miriam @RTERadio1 10am #VanMorrison pic.twitter.com/3pOSIdatHO— Miriam O'Callaghan (@MiriamOCal) December 22, 2018
Fans were loving the interview today:
This was just terrific, Miriam. Playing Van’s music all day now! Happy Christmas to you all.— Caitríona (@cmurphy195) December 23, 2018
Fair Play to Miriam! Van is incredibly open, chatty about his life and career with the minimum of interruption from Miriam. Very enjoyable interview. https://t.co/IiF8NPfraa— Rory J Leonard (@RoryJLeonard) December 23, 2018
Credit to Miriam for respect and sincerity shown to her guest, bringing out the real Van. Essential listening for emerging musical artists for lesson in how to protect their work. Van mentions early challenges, regarding securing monies owed, copyright, current Spotify issues. https://t.co/Kg8wadQ9dX— Rory J Leonard (@RoryJLeonard) December 23, 2018