VAN MORRISON – ” Brown Eyed Girl ” Released 28th March 1967

Posted: March 29, 2020 in MUSIC
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On this day (March. 28th) in 1967: Van Morrison recorded the track “Brown Eyed Girl” during a two-day session at A&R Studios in New York City; written by Van, it was one of eight songs recorded at the time for his new record label, Bang Records; produced by Bang founder Bert Berns in 22 takes, the finished version was different than what Van had envisioned; “The record came out different,” he later explained…”This fellow Bert, he made it the way he wanted it & I accepted the fact that he was producing it, so I just let him do it”…(this fab clip from 1973, likely more how Van heard it…). The song spent a total of sixteen weeks on the chart. It featured the Sweet Inspirations singing back-up vocals and is considered to be Van Morrison’s signature song. “Brown Eyed Girl” has remained a staple on classic rock radio, and has been covered by hundreds of bands over the decades.

Because of a contract he signed with Bang Records without legal advice, Morrison states that he has never received any royalties for writing or recording this song. Morrison vented frustration about this unjust contract in his sarcastic nonsense song “The Big Royalty Check”. Morrison has stated that “Brown Eyed Girl” is not among his favourite songs, remarking “it’s not one of my best. I mean I’ve got about 300 songs that I think are better.

After finishing his contract with “Decca Records” and the mid-1966 break-up of his band, Them , Morrison returned to Belfast seeking a new recording company. When he received a phone call from Bert Berns owner of Bang Records who had produced a number of recordings with Them, he flew to New York City and hastily signed a contract (which biographer Clinton Heylin says probably still gives him sleepless nights). During a two-day recording session starting 28th March 1967, he recorded eight songs intended to be used as four singles. The recording session took place at A & R Studios and “Brown Eyed Girl” was captured on the 22nd take on the first day. Of the musicians Berns had assembled, there were three guitarists Eric Gale Hugh McCracken and Al Gorgoni plus bassist Russ Savakus pianist Paul Griffin and drummer Gary Chester It was released as a single in mid-June 1967.

Originally titled “Brown-Skinned Girl”,Morrison changed it to “Brown Eyed Girl” when he recorded it. Morrison remarked on the title change: “That was just a mistake. It was a kind of Jamaican song. Calypso. It just slipped my mind [that] I changed the title. After we’d recorded it, I looked at the tape box and didn’t even notice that I’d changed the title. I looked at the box where I’d lain it down with my guitar and it said ‘Brown Eyed Girl’ on the tape box. It’s just one of those things that happen.

The song’s nostalgic lyrics about a former love were considered too suggestive at the time to be played on many radio stations. A radio-edit of the song was released which removed the lyrics “making love in the green grass”, replacing them with “laughin’ and a-runnin’, hey hey” from a previous verse. This edited version appears on some copies of the compilation album The Best of Van Morrison. However, the remastered album seems to have the bowdlerised lyrics in the packaging but the original “racy” lyrics on the disc.

“Brown Eyed Girl” joined an elite group of songs as it was honoured for having 10 million US radio air plays

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