|Single by Van Morrison|
|from the album Veedon Fleece|
|B-side||"Cul de Sac"|
|Recorded||March 1974, Mercury Studios, New York City, United States|
|Van Morrison singles chronology|
Recording and composition
"Bulbs" was first recorded with different lyrics at the recording session for the 1973 album, Hard Nose the Highway, released in 1973. After the first recording session for Veedon Fleece, "Bulbs" was re-cut at Mercury Studios in New York City in March 1974, along with "Cul de Sac" to give it a more rock feeling. According to Jef Labes this was "cause he (Morrison) didn't feel they had the right feeling... It was me, Van and a bunch of other guys that he'd never played with." Bass player Joe Macho had previously played on the 1966 Bobby Hebb hit song "Sunny".
"Bulbs" has been described as "a pleasant, catchy country ditty, a Dire Straits song before its time" by biographer John Collis. As with many of Morrison's songs, "Bulbs" does not have a clear story line, but in part focuses on immigration to the United States as in the lines:
- She's leaving Pan American
- Suitcase in her hand
- I said her brothers and her sisters
- Are all on Atlantic sand
In an interview with Morrison, Tom Donahue said, after he had listened to "Bulbs": "You always make great noises. The other things you do in songs beside the words."
In a Stylus Magazine review for the album Veedon Fleece, Derek Miller says of the song:
"Of course, the best and most immediately memorable song on Veedon Fleece is "Bulbs". Coming about as close to laying down a groove as he does on the album, the song quickly makes dust of its acoustic start, leaping headstrong into a Waylon Jennings' style bass-roll, rump heavy and plush, pianos shimmering and fingerdense."
Morrison played the song on the German television show Musikladen on 13 November 1974.
The title might come from the lines:
- And her batteries are corroded
- And her hundred watt bulb just blew
- or the repeated chorus:
- .. she's standing in the shadows
- Where the street lights all turn blue
A live performance of this song is featured on the 1974 disc of Morrison's 2006 issued DVD, Live At Montreux 1980/1974. Morrison used a stripped down band on this Montreaux Jazz Festival appearance consisting of:
- Heylin, Can You Feel the Silence? p.521
- Heylin, Can You Feel the Silence? p.284
- Collis, Inarticulate Speech of the Heart, pp.140-141
- Hinton, Celtic Crossroads, p. 179
- "Van Morrison - Veedon Fleece". stylusmagazine.com. Retrieved 3 August 2008.
- Hal Horowitz (5 August 2003). "Vanthology: A Tribute to Van Morrison - Van Morrison | Songs, Reviews, Credits, Awards". AllMusic. Retrieved 15 February 2014.
- lyrics at metrolyrics.com
- Collis, John (1996). Inarticulate Speech of the Heart, Little Brown and Company, ISBN 0-306-80811-0
- Heylin, Clinton (2003). Can You Feel the Silence? Van Morrison: A New Biography, Chicago Review Press ISBN 1-55652-542-7
- Hinton, Brian (1997). Celtic Crossroads: The Art of Van Morrison, Sanctuary, ISBN 1-86074-169-X