I bought this book on ebay a few weeks ago.It is called 'The Dweller On The Threshold' by Robert Hichens.My copy is from 1919 but it was first published in 1909.I bought it for two reasons.Firstly because it had the same title as a song by my favourite singer Van Morrison from his 1982 album Beautiful Vision and i thought that it might help towards my understanding of Van's music.The second reason i bought it was because i was drunk at the time.I must stop going on ebay when i have been in the pub.I thought this book might be where Van got the inspiration for his song from but i have found out since that the expression 'Dweller On The Threshold' was first used in 1842 in a book by Edward Bulwer-Llyton called Zanoni which was his interpretation of an ancient Rosecrucian manuscript.The dweller is an invisible and possibly malevolent spirit that attaches itself to a human being.It is also mentioned in books by Rudolf Steiner and Madame Blavatsky who was a big influence on Van in the 1980's.Madame Blavatsky who was a theosophist said that the Dweller On The Threshold was separated from the angel of the presence by the burning ground so i think we can see where Van got his song The Burning Ground from.
All this got me wondering how many more songs of Van were also the titles of books and i was surprised to find that there are quite a few.Haunts Of Ancient Peace is the opening track on the Common One album and it is also the title of a book by Alfred Austin published in 1902.Alfred Austin was appointed Poet Laureate following the death of Lord Tennyson.I'm not sure if Van read the book or just liked the title or maybe it's a coincidence.
Another song is Avalon Of The Heart from the Enlightenment album which is also a book by Dion Fortune which was first published in 1934.I am certain that Van must have read this book because of his huge interest in Glastonbury and Avalon which is the New Jerusalem.Dion Fortune described Glastonbury as one of the green roads to the soul and i'm sure Van was inspired to write much of his music after visiting the Abbey, The Chalice Well and The Tor.I think this book was the source of some of Van's greatest work in the 1980's.Dion Fortune died in 1946 and she is actually buried in Glastonbury (See picture) .I must go and visit her tomb next time i am in Glastonbury.I urge anyone who wants a greater understanding of Van's music to read this book.
Another book that i am quite confident that Van has read is Don't Push The River (It Flows By Itself) by Barry Stevens.I am sure it inspired his song You Don't Pull No Punches But You Don't Push The River from the Veedon Fleece album of 1974.This album is full of literary references such as Poe,Wilde and Thoreau but Van has acknowledged that this particular track was influenced by his reading of Gestalt therapy.The author of the book Barry Stevens,was a gestalt therapist who also investigated the writings of Jiddu Krishnamurti another huge influence on Van and who gave Van the title of his No Guru,No Method,No Teacher album.
It is in the lyrics of this song that Van first mentions William Blake who was to be mentioned many more times in Van's subsequent career.There is a book called A New Kind Of Man which is a biography of Blake by Michael Davis,i wonder if Van has read it because it is the title of one of his songs on the Sense Of Wonder album.Ancient of Days on the same album is taken from a painting by Blake.
Van has said that his song Fire In The Belly from his album The Healing Game was inspired by the book of the same name by Sam Keen.He is an American writer, professor and philosopher who has written many books on life, love and being a man in modern society.Van has also definitely read Cloud Hidden Whereabouts Unknown by Alan Watts because he called the song on Poetic Champions Compose Alan Watts Blues and uses the book title freely in the lyrics of the song.
Green Mansions is the best known novel by W.H. Hudson published in 1904.It was made into a film in 1959 starring Audrey Hepburn and Anthony Perkins and flopped at the box-office.It is also the title of one of the lesser songs on Vans Hymns To The Silence album.I don't know if Van has read the book or seen the film but he got the title from somewhere.Whilst on the subject of film there is a film called Cold Wind In August.made in 1961 from a novel by Burton Wohl starring Lola Albright and also the title of a song on A Period Of Transition.Coincidence?,i think not.
One of my favourite songs on the brilliant Into The Music album is Angeliou.I have never heard of anyone with the name Angeliou.I have sometimes wondered if Van got it from the famous author Maya Angelou and then added an i to it.I doubt if Van has read Ancient Highway by Bret Lott because it wasn't published till 2008 but i wonder if Bret lott is a Van fan and heard Ancient Highway which is one of the outstanding tracks on the Days Like This album and stole the title for his book.I bet Van would say,” Copycats ripped of my song, copycats ripped off my words".Ha ha, Van has been doing it for years.That doesn't matter though because what Van has done with other peoples book titles is quite brilliant and i think that the second major influence on Van in his career after his dads record collection has been the books on his shelves.