Tough decision: Whether to make “Have I Told You Lately” the third Van Morrison song on this blog (others here and here), or the second Rod Stewart song (first here). Morrison wrote it, sang it well and made it a hit, but I like Stewart’s version better (and it did even better on the charts) so that’s the one I’ll post below.
Chances are, some people would be confused by the Morrison-versus-Stewart issue, thinking I’m writing about another once-popular song with an almost identical name and with some identical words. “Have I Told You Lately that I Love You?” was written in the 1940s and became a hit a decade later when sung by Lulu Belle and Scotty. It was also sung by “Gentleman Jim” Reeves, among others.
And I debated the inclusion of either song, since that particular question has always bugged me, in the same way that I’ve always been irritated by the birthday and anniversary cards intended for a loved one — usually a wife, sometimes a parent — saying some version of, “I know I don’t tell you often [or often enough] that I love you, but…” My mental reaction, as I’ve suggested previously, typically is something along the lines of: “Well, why haven’t you said it, you idiotic schmuck? And you think some five-dollar card is going to make up for that? Geez, I hope you don’t expect not to be poisoned if that person ever cooks for you.”
OK, so maybe I sometimes overreact to what I read in supermarkets.
Joanna and I tell each other “I love you” often — typically multiple times a day. It has been the last thing each of us said to the other almost every night for 33 years (well, excluding when we’re talking in our sleep). Of course, saying something can be easier than showing it: While I tell my wife that I love her, I sometimes fail to do the sample things that mean a lot, such as keeping things neater than at home than I do my office.
I do notice if she gets a haircut, but sometimes fail to notice that she has cleaned or decorated some part of the house, how nice she looks before we go out, or what earrings she is wearing. That last item is more relevant for us than it might be for some couples, since I have bought Joanna most of her earrings. She seemed to be one of the last women in American without pierced ears when we met, and had them pierced shortly thereafter. Since then, I’ve been adding to her collection. Almost every time I travel out of town, I bring back earrings as a souvenir.
Back to “Have I Told You Lately”: Though the first question it asks is silly in our case, some of the other lines ring deeply true. Joanna does “fill my life with laughter” — even after 33 years, we crack each other up, and we laugh together more than any other couple I know. My wife virtually always knows how to “take away my sadness, fill my life with gladness [and] ease my troubles” whether with the right words, a simple smile, or one of her amazing pies.
Lyrics here, with video of a live Stewart performance below.
“Brown Eyed Girl” is the second Van Morrison song on this blog, was one of the first songs listed by a contributing reader, and is another tune that I enjoy singing to Joanna when it comes on the radio as we drive. It’s irresistible: “Sha la la la la la la la la la la dee dah. … Sha la la la la la la la la la la dee dah. La dee dah.”
The song has been hugely popular, ranking in the most-played songs, despite the fact that it is now more than 45 years old and even though Morrison says it isn’t one of his own favorites. A side note: It also has contributed to the destruction of the English language by providing an early example of a missing hyphen from a compound adjective — the song should be titled, “Brown-Eyed Girl.”
Or perhaps Brown-Skinned Girl,” since apparently Morrison supposedly meant to refer to skin color, not eye color. The song would work here either way (excluding the final verse, anyway); at least in the summer, Joanna’s eyes and skin both are brown. Our time in Oregon gave us plenty of “misty morning fog,” and one of our favorite experiences in our current house came when we stepped outside early one morning to find a somewhat surrealistic vision of three deer — Joanna’s favorite animal — walking through the fog on the street in front of our house.
Lyrics here, with video of a funky early live version below.
(Note: Another Van Morrison song, “Brown Eyed Girl,” is at #119.)
After a day and two nights of wind, one would never know by looking at our yard that I had raked leaves over the weekend (though the scene is nothing compared to when we lived in “the City of Oaks” in North Carolina). Indeed, “all the leaves on the trees are falling to the sound of the breezes that blow” — to quote “Moondance,” a favorite Van Morrison song that brings together this month of October, dancing and dreams come true.
The album of the same name, according to one review, is “fixated on the power of nature, but rather than merely sitting in awe, it finds spirituality and redemption in the most basic of things.” Joanna and I try to do the same. Fall has always been our favorite time of year, and we’ve been blessed with a dandy Autumn this year. But then, since we met just over 33 years ago, there have been no bad ones.
Lyrics here, with video from a live performance at the Montreux Jazz Festival in July 1980 — the same month as Joanna’s and my first real date (or if you’d prefer a later version, with a dandy sax solo by Candy Dulfer, you can find that here).