Tuesday 13th September, 2016

LA Times: An Appreciation: Lewis Merenstein


It was with great sadness that Van had learnt of the passing of Lewis Merenstein. Lewis was producer on Van's Astral Weeks and Moondance LP. Van recently had taken some time to speak with Randy lewis, LA Times, about his time with Lewis, and of the memories he shared:

Lewis, who died Sept. 6 at age 81 of complications from pneumonia, had mostly worked in the world of jazz with producer Tom Wilson when Morrison’s manager asked him to meet with the singer.

“I was living on a shoestring — a very hand-to-mouth existence at that time — in Boston and for a long time after that too,” Morrison told The Times in a 2007 interview.

“I went down to New York and this is when I got the offer from Warner Bros.,” he said. “They had told me they had to buy out the Bang deal — then I got involved with Merenstein, et al. The real reason I made ‘Astral Weeks’ recordings in New York is because I was literally broke and they kept me stranded there.”

Merenstein described his first interaction with Morrison in a 2009 interview with jazz writer Ryan Hamilton, who has recently posted his complete interview with Merenstein on his website.

“Warner Bros. had contacted Bob Schwaid [Morrison's manager at the time], and he contacted me,” Merenstein told Hamilton. “They had sent some producers, and they didn't know what he [Morrison] was talking about; people went up expecting to hear 'Brown Eyed Girl,' because … that's what he was last known for.

“And I went up and it was at Ace Recording Studio at 1 Boylston Place, and there was Van Morrison, very timidly sitting on a stool, and I came in very timidly sitting on a stool and he played,” Merenstein said. “And the first tune he played was ‘Astral Weeks.’

“Thirty seconds into it,” Merenstein recalled, “my whole being was vibrating, because having spent all that time with jazz players, when he was playing, I could hear — the lyric I got right away; I knew he was being reborn. I heard 30 seconds, a minute and it went right through me, and I got the poetry of it. It was just stunning, and I knew I wanted to work with him at that moment.”

You can read the full article here: LA Times: Lewis Merenstein

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