by Alisha Casey
When Van Morrison approached City Lights to publish the U.S. edition of his Lit Up Inside: Selected Lyrics, it felt like a perfect match. As David Meltzer states in his foreword to the book, “Morrison’s aesthetic, his integrity and commitment to authenticity fits right in with the ongoing constancy of the City Lights list of writers, poets, and musicians who have embraced both the possible and the impossible.” Lit Up Inside is the first book Morrison has ever officially released under his name and includes his own hand-picked selection of lyrics. One can find timeless songs like “Brown Eyed Girl” that everyone knows as well as deep album cuts that only the hardcore fan would know.
This book marks the first official statement by Van Morrison on his own songs. This volume represents not only Van Morrison’s career as a songwriter to the hardcore fan but a reflection of that career by Van himself. This is what Morrison sees as his creative contribution.
Music critic and long-time Van-fan Denise Sullivan explains that “the combination of deep personal content and universal humanity tucked inside Morrison’s songs was largely lost on me until reading the verses as a whole in Lit Up Inside. It is within these songs that the story of Morrison’s life unfolds.” The book of lyrics spans Morrison’s nearly-50-year career and 30-plus albums, and features the foreword by David Meltzer, another by Ian Rankin, and an introduction by Eamonn Hughes, senior lecturer at Queens University Belfast.
David Meltzer, himself in the thick of the rock ‘n roll scene when Morrison’s career began to take off in the late 60’s, goes on in the book’s foreword to describe Morrison’s notable lyricism: