Van Morrison – the ten million airplays man

Van Morrison - the ten million airplays man

Congratulations to Irish singer Van Morrison for the stunning success of his song Brown Eyed Girl, which passed the ten million mark for the number of airplays on radio stations in the United States.

The Belfast born singer received a special award for his outstanding achievement from Broadcast Music Inc – the organisation that collects royalty fees for performers when their music is played on radio or in public places.

Brown Eyed Girl was Morrison’s first top ten hit in America and is still his most successful song to date.

In 2015, Brown Eyed Girl was named as the most downloaded and played song of the entire 1960s decade.

I’ve got 300 better songs

However, the great man himself doesn’t think it’s one of his best songs. “I’ve got about 300 better ones,” he says, which, even for a songwriter of his undoubted genius, may be pushing it a bit.

No one could begrudge Morrison his success. Brown Eyed Girl is an all time classic that instantly makes your ears prick up every time it comes on the radio. It was written about a mystery Belfast girl Morrison knew but he has never revealed her identity.

It took 22 takes to get it right back in 1967 when Morrison first recorded the song. The lyrics were considered a little too risqué for some radio stations so a few lines had to be changed. For example, “making love in the green grass” became “laughin and a runnin.”

Given the ten million airplays the song has received, all that effort seems to have been worthwhile.

Brown Eyed Girl transcends mere hit status

BMI spokesman Robin Ahrold said Brown Eyed Girl had transcended mere hit status. “It’s into a very elite status where if you go for a meal in a restaurant you’re likely to hear it played at some point,” he said.

“It’s a standard which gets airplay all the time, year in, year out.”

Typically, Van the Man was unfazed by his astonishing achievement, and didn’t even turn up to collect his award. Hopefully, he was busy writing his next ten million airplays track!

Brown Eyed Girl – 10 million airplays in the US

The Chieftains performing with other music stars

By Patrick Kehoe

Pat Kehoe is a writer for Irish Music Daily. His favourite Irish music bands are the Dubliners and Planxty.