Last week, Van Morrison announced that he would release three songs protesting lockdown measures and large-gathering bans. Now, the 75-year-old artist has revealed that he intends to use the tracks’ profits to support struggling musicians.
The “Brown Eyed Girl” singer detailed his plans to donate revenue deriving from the works – “Born To Be Free,” “As I Walked Out,” and “No More Lockdown” – in a formal release. Van Morrison is slated to perform the protest tracks at the three London Palladium gigs he has booked for this week (the first of which is tonight). Additionally, the songs will become available to stream and download on September 25th, October 9th, and October 23rd, respectively, with the Van Morrison Rhythm and Blues Foundation forwarding the corresponding profits to musicians.
The Songwriters Hall of Famer has also launched a platform – aptly named “Save Live Music” – to advocate the rollback of the relatively stringent requirements in place for UK venues. Save Live Music is set to preview the aforementioned protest songs moving forward, though exact dates weren’t included in the release.
Van Morrison addressed his plan to donate the protest tracks’ income in a statement: “Lockdown is taking away people’s jobs and freedoms across all sectors of society. I believe live music is essential, and I worry that without positive action it will not survive.
“Pilot events have shown there are ways in which venues can reopen safely at full capacity,” continued the former Them lead singer. “It’s essential for their survival that the government allows them to do so. Surely, there is a debate to be had around whether lockdown is doing more harm than good.”
A number of social media users are continuing to criticize Van Morrison’s statement and overarching opinion on lockdown measures – though some individuals, including many fellow Northern Ireland natives, have come out in support of his position.
Nevertheless, Belfast City Councilor Emmet McDonough-Brown recently asked the council to consider revoking Van Morrison’s Freedom of the City of Belfast honor due to the protest songs’ lyrics. In 2013, Morrison became the 79th recipient of the prestigious award, joining the likes of Andrew Carnegie and Winston Churchill. Others on the Belfast City Council have yet to jointly address McDonough-Brown’s recommendation.
Earlier today, we covered survey results published by the Musicians’ Union, which revealed that more than one-third of British musicians are considering quitting music because of difficulties stemming from the pandemic. Thirty-six percent of respondents signaled that they “do not have any work at all,” and Musicians’ Union General Secretary Horace Trubridge called on the government to create a “seat-matching scheme.”
The proposal “would take venues’ potential revenue to 60%, providing a lifeline to musicians and the wider industry,” the musician and 30-year Musicians’ Union employee added.