In The Days Before Rock 'n' Roll

Album: Enlightenment (1990)
Play Video


  • Irish poet Paul Durcan, who co-wrote this song, provides the spoken vocals on this track. In 1988 Durcan wrote: "Myself, if I was Minister for Education, I'd bring in a new curriculum in the morning and top of my list would be Kavanagh and Morrison. All of Kavanagh and Morrison - not my selection or Saint Augustine's selection or Barry McGuigan's selection or Dean Martin's selection but the entire oeuvre and let the audience (students are a free audience - not a concentration camp of suitable victims) pick out what they like and what they don't like." (from "A Celebration of Van Morrison," May 1988 issue of Magill)
  • Patrick Kavanagh (1904-1967) was an Irish poet who in a 2000 poll by The Irish Times was rated the nation's second favorite poet behind W. B. Yeats.
  • This song lists singers who influenced the youthful Van Morrison including Muddy Waters, John Lee Hooker, Jerry Lee Lewis and Little Richard. He also refers to Radio Luxembourg to which thousands of British and Irish teenagers in the 1950s, '60s, and '70s would tune in to on their primitive radios, despite the poor reception, because it played the pop music they wanted to hear.
  • Ray Charles evidently is a hero of Van Morrison. in this song he refers to Ray Charles as "The high priest." Van Morrison has referred to Ray Charles in other compositions of his. In "These Dreams of You" from Moondance (1970), the lyric goes, "And Ray Charles was shot down." Also in "Got to Go Back" from No Guru, No Method, No Teacher (1986), some of the words are "I used to gaze out my classroom window and dream, and then go home and listen to Ray sing." >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Edward Pearce - Ashford, Kent, England, for all above

Comments: 4

  • Simon From Aboyne from ScotlandThe organ that comes in after the first minute is sending SOS in morse.
  • Jeanie Fromva. from St. Paul Va.Who is Justin in the song The Days before Rock and Roll by Van Morrison?
  • Vientiane Rory from LaosI’d like to know more about/ “Justin, gentler than a man......”
  • Bill from Pensacola, FlIn a lot of Van's music his fans wait for that trancendent moment in a song where Van the singer and his song just leave the stage setting and go into a place with no time or space. I think this song was written in this plane, it just starts out and continues in that vain every time I listen to it. And why not? He is talking about the thing that influeneced him the most growing up, music.
see more comments

Editor's Picks

Bands Named After Real People (Who Aren't In The Band)

Bands Named After Real People (Who Aren't In The Band)Song Writing

How a gym teacher, a janitor, and a junkie became part of some very famous band names.

Adam Duritz of Counting Crows

Adam Duritz of Counting CrowsSongwriter Interviews

"Mr. Jones" took on new meaning when the song about a misguided view of fame made Adam famous.

Jason Newsted (ex-Metallica)

Jason Newsted (ex-Metallica)Songwriter Interviews

The former Metallica bassist talks about his first time writing a song with James Hetfield, and how a hand-me-down iPad has changed his songwriting.

James Williamson of Iggy & the Stooges

James Williamson of Iggy & the StoogesSongwriter Interviews

The Stooges guitarist (and producer of the Kill City album) talks about those early recordings and what really happened with David Bowie.

Eagles Lyrics Quiz

Eagles Lyrics QuizMusic Quiz

Lots of life lessons in these Eagles lyrics - can you match them to the correct song?

Neal Smith - "I'm Eighteen"

Neal Smith - "I'm Eighteen"They're Playing My Song

With the band in danger of being dropped from their label, Alice Cooper drummer Neal Smith co-wrote the song that started their trek from horror show curiosity to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.