Down To Joy

Album: Belfast (2021)
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Songfacts®:

  • Van Morrison recorded this jubilant song for the coming-of-age drama film Belfast, written and directed by Belfast-raised Kenneth Branagh. The movie follows a young boy's childhood in the Northern Irish city during the tumult of the late 1960s.
  • Van Morrison is also from Belfast. After Branagh approached him to write a song for his movie, he drove to the area where he grew up. That brought back memories of his friends back then and other recollections. He told Nile Rodgers during a Songwriters Hall of Fame virtual event that "Down To Joy" is "basically a combination of the script and my recollections of that particular area."
  • The song doesn't have any special meaning, but it describes a feeling of euphoria. Morrison said it's "kind of meaningless babble, but it works."
  • Van Morrison recorded "Down To Joy" during the pandemic. Because Wales was less locked down than other parts of Britain at the time, he did the rhythm track in Cardiff with musicians he'd worked with before. Then Morrison put horn and backing vocals in his studio on Belfast.
  • Van Morrison composed the entire score for Belfast, which includes eight of his classic songs in addition to "Down To Joy."
  • "Down To Joy" received an Academy Award nomination for Best Original Song, earning Van Morrison his first Oscar nomination. It lost to "No Time To Die" from the James Bond film of the same name.

    Morrison didn't appear at the ceremony; it was the only nominated song that wasn't performed. Belfast didn't go home empty-handed: Kenneth Branagh won for Best Original Screenplay.

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