leaving new hampshire for a spell

I remember this time last year, with winter and the cold blowing in, setting myself one simple goal: to be out of here before winter and the cold came around again. I’ve cut it very close, I know, but it looks like (finally) it’s all systems go: We’re leaving tomorrow – Saturday, December 17. New Hampshire has its many charms, and I’ll be back, but it’ll be sometime after winter has come and gone, for sure. It’s the cold – it gets right down to my bones, and at this point, I’d just rather be lying on the beach somewhere. So, we’re heading south. Leaving tomorrow. It’s exciting!

Or it would be if I had a moment to spare to get excited. This has been one busy week. The week before that was busy too. In fact, I don’t remember the last time I wasn’t busy. It was probably that night about a year ago when I came up with the monstrous plan that would go with the leave-before-next-winter goal: Go on a road trip. Finish writing the book I was working on, then get it published and take it on the road. The book is about a road trip I took a few years ago, so it seemed like a cool idea: do another road trip, this time a road trip about a book about a road trip. That, at least, was the opening thrust. First thing I had to do was find a road partner. Too easy. I called up my daughter, Bridget, who was in her final year of college, graduating with a major in photography and minors in music and journalism. You just had to know she’d want to go. On the road through a lens.

With the two of us on board, my main, and really only, job was to finish writing the book. If we don’t have a book, we don’t have a road trip. Or at least a road trip about a road trip. The good news – the GREAT news – is the book IS finished and off at the printer, even as we speak. I just found out a couple of days ago that it would be ready the week after Christmas. Not typically your best week of the year to launch, but, you know, it is what it is. Why be mainstream at this point.

The book is called “Astral Weeks Live: A Fan’s Notes,” and it features me and a lot of other Van Morrison fans going from show to show to hear Van Morrison perform Astral Weeks Live. Van had an album out in 1968 called Astral Weeks, and forty years later, in 2008, he recrafted the songs from that album; whereas the original was all jazz, the Astral Weeks Live version was all Celtic soul fused with full orchestration. Van performed Astral Weeks Live over the course of a year that began with two shows at the Hollywood Bowl in Los Angeles on November 7 and 8, 2008, and ended 12 months later on October 28, 2009, in a casino in Connecticut. The book is about that year – from the fans’ perspective. Van Morrison fans are a special breed. We’ve become a close-knit community over the years and a lot of its members populate the pages of the book. If there’s one thing that’s common among Van Morrison fans, it’s knowing that there is nothing like hearing him live. Van can take you to places with his voice, and when it does that to you, there’s nowhere else you’d rather be than right there in the audience, one more time again. I hope the book captures some of that feeling.

If you’ve been following so far, you might be wondering … how is it that we’re leaving on December 17 when the book isn’t going to be ready until after Christmas? Kind of odd to go on a book tour without a book.

It’s magic. I’ll tell you about it next time. From the road. First stop: Brooklyn, New York.

Oh, guess who’s going with us? Justin, the goldfish. He’s excited to get going. He’s had enough of the goldfish bowl and is ready to rock and roll.


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