I am not going to try and explain Van's lyrics here. That would be silly. The words mean different things to different people and everyone is entitled to their point of view. The only person with the right to explain the lyrics is Van and even then I sometimes think Van doesn't understand them himself. It is stream of consciousness channelled from above.I am very grateful for Van's lyrics though because I think I have learned more from him than any other teacher. That is because he is so generous in acknowledging and name checking the people who have inspired him. Through reading his lyrics and following them up I have discovered a wealth of people in music,literature,philosophy and spirituality etc who I would not have known about otherwise. It is the subject matter of his songs which raise him above other great singers and songwriters. I also believe that Van himself believes that he is firstly a poet. In an Irish music magazine called New Spotlight in 1973 Van said that he hoped to publish a book of poetry soon and he found it hard to draw the line between poems and songs and gave Madame George as an example. Finally forty years later this dream has come true.About twenty years ago Van took part in a TV documentary called A Coney Island Of The Mind in which he met with a group of Irish poets and read and discussed his work. If I remember correctly one of the poems he read was I'm Tired Joey Boy.There is no doubt as well that Van has a great speaking voice. When I listen to something like On Hyndford Street to me it it is pure poetry with musical accompaniment.
Anyway, I'm beginning to ramble on so I'll finish off by saying that I really enjoyed reading this book and recommend it to anyone. I must get myself a reading copy so I keep this one in pristine condition. Also in that 1973 interview that I mentioned earlier Van said that he was always writing poems and prose so I hope this will lead to Faber issuing more work by Van. As Eamonn Hughes quoted in the introduction, 'Rave on words on printed page'.