November 27, 2020
Amid a worldwide lockdown that has hollowed out concert venues ranging from local pubs to football stadiums, suspending live events and upending the touring industry, many artists are beginning to push back on government-imposed restrictions.
Most recently, singer-songwriter Van Morrison – who spawned a fruitful solo career with his 1967 pop hit “Brown Eyed Girl” and went on to create such classic records as “Astral Weeks” and “Moondance” – announced via Twitter on Friday a new single, titled “Stand and Deliver,” in collaboration with three-time Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee Eric Clapton.
“Stand and Deliver,” set to be released on December 4, follows in the footsteps of three other recent singles recorded by Morrison: “Born to Be Free,” “As I Walked Out,” and “No More Lockdown.”
“Born to Be Free,” a soulful, Motown-inspired groove, is practically a paean to libertarianism. This is a song Ayn Rand could gleefully sing in the shower while dreaming up dystopian novels. In a general rebuke to overbearing government, Morrison sings, “Don’t need the government cramping my style; give them an inch, they take a mile.” Deftly shimmying into an analogy comparing COVID era curfews and shutdowns to Soviet rule, he continues with the chorus, “The new normal is not normal; it’s no kind of normal at all; everyone seems to have amnesia; just trying to remember the Berlin Wall.”
The other two singles are far less subtle in their lyrics. With “As I Walked Out,” Morrison weaves a somber, piano-driven ballad, directly accusing the government of stoking fear in the public and enacting what he says are overly stringent, economically damaging lockdowns. “Well, on the government website from the 21st March 2020; it said COVID-19 was no longer high risk; then two days later they put us under lockdown; then why are we not being told the truth?” asked Morrison, as the songwriter went on to lambast the media and the government in the chorus, “By all the media outlets and the government lackeys; Why is this not big news, why is it being ignored? Why no checks and balances, why no second opinions? Why are they working, and why are we not?”
“No More Lockdown” is an upbeat blues shuffle, suffused with jazzy underpinnings. As in “Born to Be Free,” through its lyrics Morrison exudes a libertarian chic so obvious it would elate the entire House Freedom Caucus. Invoking natural rights, Morrison sings, “No more government overreach; no more fascist police; disturbing our peace; no more taking of our freedom; and our God-given rights; pretending it’s for our safety; when it’s really to enslave.”
It is along these same lines that comes Morrison’s latest protest song against the COVID-driven economic lockdowns. The newly announced “Stand and Deliver” was written by Morrison and recorded by Eric Clapton. Commenting on the upcoming single, Morrison said in an interview with Variety Magazine, “Eric’s recording is fantastic and will clearly resonate with the many who share our frustrations.”
In the same interview with Variety Magazine, Clapton commented both on Morrison’s efforts and live music more broadly, “It is deeply upsetting to see how few gigs are going ahead because of the lockdown restrictions. There are many of us who support Van and his endeavors to save live music; he is an inspiration… we must stand up and be counted because we need to find a way out of this mess. The alternative is not worth thinking about. Live music might never recover.”
Clapton’s same sentiments were echoed earlier this year by Bruce Springsteen, who, in a segment on the SiriusXM E Street Radio station expressed his vexations with the moratorium on touring and live music, “Empty and unused time, I don’t care for — especially at 70… I’m counting my days and, my friend, I’ve got things to do that involve me and you. My son is 25 and he’s worried about the time it’s taking out of his life!”
The Rolling Stones’ frontman, Mick Jagger, voiced his concerns about COVID relief measures upending the gigging industry, stating in a recent interview, “The larger point, really, is — in the short, medium, and long term — how is everyone that performs live going to function in the future?… So many people are out of work, losing money. Is it ever going to be the same again? Will it be always different? We just don’t know at the moment.”
The future of live music and the touring industry remains shrouded in uncertainty. In efforts to curb and contain the spread of the pandemic, government-enforced lockdowns have consequently derailed the livelihoods of countless people – especially those dependent on live events.
Established, venerable stars like Van Morrison and Eric Clapton only feel the brunt of the lockdowns in the inability to continue living out their vocations of performing and playing to reams of fans. It is instead the myriad of new and budding artists whose aspirations of stardom have been upended. In the interview with Variety Magazine, Morrison stated, “It is heart-breaking to see so many talented musicians lack any meaningful support from the government, but we want to reassure them that we are working hard every day to lobby for the return of live music, and to save our industry.”
Proceeds from “Stand and Deliver” will go to Morrison’s charitable endeavor, the Lockdown Financial Hardship Fund, in efforts to aid struggling musicians beset by government lockdowns.
Originally Published at The Daily Wire