The Covid cancelling of Van Morrison

18 September 2020

11:03 PM

18 September 2020

11:03 PM

Cancel culture has come for Belfast’s finest son. Ulster singer-songwriter Van Morrison, consociationally worshipped god of Norn Irn dad rock, is under fire for a trio of new, anti-lockdown songs. One particularly on-the-nose number is No More Lockdown, which contains the lyrics:

‘No more lockdown
No more government overreach
No more fascist bullies
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.’

Sure, it’s no ‘Standing in the sunlight laughing/ Hiding behind a rainbow’s wall/ Slipping and sliding/ All along the waterfall’, but in the present climate the consequences of releasing a dodgy song aren’t limited to landing in the lower reaches of the charts.

Northern Ireland’s actual health minister has denounced yer man’s lyrics as ‘dangerous’. Humour void Robin Swann told the BBC:

‘I don’t know where he gets his facts. I know where the emotions are on this, but I will say that sort of messaging is dangerous. Our messaging is about saving lives. If Van wanted to sing a song about saving lives, then that would be more in keeping with where we are at the minute.’

He went on to challenge the singer of ‘Ro Ro Rosey’ to a debate with the chief scientific adviser. Another Ulster politician who needs to catch himself on is Councillor Emmet McDonough-Brown, who has called for Belfast City Council to strip the soft-rocker of the Freedom of the City on the grounds that ‘his most recent lyrics undermine the guidance in place to protect lives’. You might not be surprised to learn that McDonough-Brown is a member of the Alliance, a wagging finger passing as a political party.

Van Morrison may be a dweller on the threshold when it comes to his kooky pronouncements about coronavirus, but holding batty views is de rigueur for rock stars. Does Northern Ireland’s health minister really believe one chorus from a boomer crooner is going bring the Executive’s Covid-19 strategy crashing down? Or has the virus and our response to it become such a culture-war flashpoint that a sense of proportion is no longer possible?

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