When I was 18 in 1985 I heard Brown Eyed Girl for the first time. Somehow I missed that song growing up…which seems impossible but the song took me down a great path. I started to order imports of Van’s early Them records and then started on his 70’s solo albums.

I bought them out of order but I ended up with his late sixties and seventies albums like Astral Weeks, Moondance,  His Band and Street Choir, Veedon Fleece, Wavelength, Tupelo Honey, Hard Nose The Highway and this one (I then worked on the 80’s albums). I traveled a lot in my car in those days…seeing a girlfriend or just cruising about. Saint Dominic’s Preview was  an album I kept going back for Van’s voice, phrasing and songwriting.

When I got the album I had a summer job in the middle of nowhere in this back water town. I had to drive over an hour to get there and Van kept me company singing about Safeway’s Supermarket and Redwood Trees. One listen to this album and I’m young, carefree, and having a really good time living life. Music brings back memories and this one makes me feel exactly like I felt then.

The album peaked at #15 in the Billboard Album Charts and #14 in Canada in 1972.

The title track Saint Dominic’s Preview is a great piece of work. This song and Tupelo Honey are probably my favorite Van Morrison songs. This one takes you on a lyrical journey…And for every cross cuttin’ country corner, country corner

For every Hank Williams railroad train that cried, And all the chains, badges, flags and emblems, And every strain on brain and every eye

Jackie Wilson Said (I’m in Heaven When You Smile) is all about happiness. Whenever I feel down…I play this and it’s impossible to feel down. The song is an obvious tribute to the great Jackie Wilson. I’m in heaven, when you smile

Almost Independence Day is an epic song. It has a nice flow to it and it was largely improvised. Van Morrison and guitar player Ron Elliot are trading guitar licks and then Lee Charlton joins with some great jazz-influenced drums. The overall sound of this is fantastic.

Redwood Tree evokes nostalgia and memories of growing up, in a similar way as his song And It Stoned Me. Oh redwood tree, Please let us under

When we were young we used to go, Under the redwood tree

So we are set on our respective islands with our top ten albums now. The only regret I have is that we didn’t have more favorite album picks…but it has to be some limit. The Beatles, The Who, Big Star, The Zombies, The Rolling Stones, The Allman Brothers, The Kinks, Bob Dylan, Bruce Springsteen, and Van Morrison. Not a bad 10.

Saint Dominic's Preview, In Cleveland Of All Places | by Patrick Hosken |  Medium

Now let’s move on to the last three.

1. Jackie Wilson Said (I’m in Heaven When You Smile)

2. Gypsy

3. I Will Be There

4. Listen to the Lion

5. Saint Dominic’s Preview

6. Redwood Tree

7. Almost Independence

Saint Dominic's Preview (Remastered) | HIGHRESAUDIO


  1. Absolutely Max. Great pick. I had to flip a coin on my last pick and Van was one of the choices. No one takes you back (like you mentioned) like Van. I’m just heading out for a walk and this album is going with me. Guaranteed to “make me smile”.

    • Thanks, CB! The personal connection with this album won out over a couple of the others from him. When you mention some jazz greats taking you on a journey… Van does that also with his songs.

  2. So many cool things about Van and this album. The whole Jackie Wilson thing. Van was a music fan just like us and Wilson moved him so much he wrote that great tribute. ‘I’m in heaven” along with him. That one song alone is worth the admission. What a celebration. I wonder if Bruce caught the vibe? I think he did.

    • When listening to Bruce’s debut I hear Van running amuck through his songs. I overuse the word but imagery comes up again especially in the title track to this…but yes Bruce’s ears were tuned in.

      Jackie Wilson Said is hard to listen to and be down or depressed…it’s almost impossible. It’s an instant jolt.

    • Jut got back from the stroll. This album put me in another world. What a great walk. I heard so much of Bruce’s second album in this one. They were joined at the hip for a while. Lots of jazz/blues overtones.

  3. Pingback: Van Morrison – Saint Dominic’s Preview…Desert Island Albums – PowerPop… An Eclectic Collection of Pop Culture·

  4. Seems like a fine album, and all the more special to you because of your personal memories from it. I don’t know that I knew any of the songs on it except for the track St Domenic’s Preview which I think you once featured on your own blog. The exception though is “Jackie Wilson Said”, but this was the one I knew… https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZaE4wMWIuB4

  5. I actually had a girlfriend back then in the mid-80s that really liked Van the Man, but it seemed like it was always Moondance that she’d be listening to. Anyway, a great finish to your list Max

  6. I enjoy the personalization of your post so much, Max. It’s a wonderful primer for the album as well. Van is definitely in the icon category. I like how you listed your 10 choices for the draft at the end. Good addition to the mix. I can’t wait to see the list by the end — and which musician or group won with the most picks!

    • Thanks Lisa…I know we are not done yet but this part is…thought it would be a good ending. This draft has exceeded my expectations.

    • You’re welcome. It was and it has exceeded mine as well. I picked up some new artists and have gotten music from the library on them, which is always a good thing.

  7. This is my second favourite Van Morrison album, after Into The Music. I feel like sometimes people just stop with Astral Weeks and Moondance, but he has some other very good records too.

  8. Van Morrison is very hit-and-miss with me, but I keep listening to see if anything has changed. I very much like Independence Day and Redwood Tree; and the title song is very nice. This was a great way to round out your list of 10. I can see how this would be appreciated on a long commute back then.

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