Preparation for the Phono Project

Hey everyone!

I’m working on an assignment called the Phono Project for my Introduction to Writing Arts class, and have recently begun browsing old recordings to see what I song I would like to use in my project. I ended up choosing “Brown Eyed Girl” by Van Morrison because it’s a song that I’ve liked since I was young. Additionally, my sister has brown eyes and my mom has always said the song reminded her of my sister because of it. I really enjoy this song, and it makes me nostalgic and happy at the same time, so I thought it’d be an interesting choice for this project. You can listen to the song here.

  • According to Wikipedia,  “Brown Eyed Girl” is considered to fall under the genre of “pop rock,” which was a genre that had begun developing in the mid-1950s. When this track was released in 1967 it was a typical example of the genre for the time period. However, the “pop rock” sound of the song is very different from what the genre embodies today. While now bands with a much more artificial sound, such as The 1975 and Imagine Dragons, are considered “pop rock,” Van Morrison’s track was much more acoustic and raw-sounding.

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  • This track was written and performed by Van Morrison. Van Morrison is a “Northern Irish singer-songwriter, instrumentalist, and record producer.”  He did go on to write more music that had a similar sound to “Brown Eyed Girl.” However, according to Wikipedia, this was one of the first songs that he wrote during his solo career.
  • When “Brown Eyed Girl” was released in 1967, Van Morrison was virtually unknown as a solo artist. While according to Wikipedia he had previously been the lead singer of a Northern Irish R&B band called Them, upon the band’s split he had to build his solo career from scratch. Bert Bern’s, the producer and composer responsible for the success of Them, persuaded Van Morrison to fly to New York to record a solo for this new label, Bang Records. While there was a lot of tension and controversy surrounding the release of “Brown Eyed Girl,” which was originally supposed to be a single and was released as part of the album Blowin’ Your Mind without Van Morrison’s knowledge, the song was a huge success ended up jumpstarting his solo career.

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  • Although the song was very successful, according to Wikipedia, Van Morrison claims to have “never received any royalties from writing or recording the song”, as a result of not carefully reading the contract that he signed with Bert Bern. Furthermore, the questionable contact held him responsible for all of the “expenses incurred for all of his Bang Records recordings before royalties would be paid.” Because he was so frustrated by the unfair terms of the contract he had signed, Van Morrison wrote and recorded the song “The Big Royalty Check, which is a sarcastic song that discusses the situation.
  • While the lyrics of the song do not tell a story about an event or historical figure, the recording was very controversial at the time. There has been much discussion about the fact that Van Morrison had initially titled the song “Brown Skinned Girl.” Many people claim that his record label forced him to change it so that the song would be well-received by a wider audience. However, Van Morrison, who hated his record label and has no reason to lie for them, has always said that he was not pressured to rename the track. Instead, according to Wikipedia, he has said that the original title was a “mistake” and a “kind of Jamaican song. Calypso…I changed the title.” He continues on to say that he didn’t even realize he’d changed the title and that it was “just one of those things that happen.”

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  • However, the song was also controversial in another way. According to Legendsrevealed.com the line “makin’ love in the green grass” was considered to be too racy for the airwaves when it was released on the radio in 1967. Consequently, the lyrics were changed to “laughin’ and a runnin,'” which was pulled from another verse of the song, during that part of the track.
  • I’m doing a story about Van Morrison. And what’s interesting about it is that while “Brown Eyed Girl” is arguably his most successful track, he has spoken out multiple times about how it’s one of his least favorite songs he’s ever written.
  • I’m doing a story about “Brown Eyed Girl.” And what’s interesting about it is that when the song debuted in 1967 some of the lyrics were considered to be too racy for the radio, while now it is looked at as a very innocent song about young love.
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