Saint Dominic's Preview (song)

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"Saint Dominic's Preview"
B-side to "Redwood Tree" and "Gypsy" by Van Morrison
from the album Saint Dominic's Preview
Released July 1972
Recorded Winter/spring 1972
Genre Folk rock, R&B
Length 6:30
Label Warner Bros. Records
Songwriter(s) Van Morrison
Producer(s) Ted Templeman, Van Morrison
Saint Dominic's Preview track listing
  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 Day"

"Saint Dominic's Preview" is the title song on the 1972 sixth album of Northern Irish singer-songwriter Van Morrison. Gary Mallaber (from the Moondance album) plays drums on this song and Morrison's then wife, Janet Planet, is one of the back-up vocalists.

Recording and composition[edit]

It was recorded during one of the Saint Dominic's Preview recording sessions that took place in the Wally Heider and Pacific High Studios in San Francisco and the Church in San Anselmo, California in late winter-early spring 1972.[1]

It is said to contain Morrison's most Dylanesque lyrics. The words form images but not a complete story as they are mixed with a variety of subjects such as cleaning windows, Edith Piaf's soul, Yeats and Hank Williams. Touching on the Belfast situation at that time (The Troubles), there are references to "orange" boxes, "flags and emblems" and people determined "not to feel anyone else's pain."[2]

Perhaps referring to his personal life and successful career at this time in his life are the lines:

All the restaurant tables are completely covered
And the record company has paid out for the wine
You got ev'rything in the world you ever wanted
And right about now your face should wear a smile

Morrison has said the song came to him in a stream of consciousness and that he later picked up a newspaper and read an announcement of a mass that was being held in a St. Dominic's church in San Francisco for peace in Belfast.[3] As he told John Grissim:[2]

I'd been working on this song about the scene going down in Belfast. And I wasn't sure what I was writing but the central image seemed to be this church called St Dominic's where people were gathering to pray or hear a mass for peace in Northern Ireland. A few weeks later I was playing at a gig in Reno, Nevada. I picked up a newspaper, and there in front of me was an announcement about a mass for peace in Belfast to be said the next day at St Dominic's Church in San Francisco. Totally blew me out. Like I'd never even heard of a St Dominic's Church.

"Saint Dominic's Preview" was one of the songs that pianist, Tom Salisbury, was asked to arrange for the album, as he explains: "[I] think he was relieved to have someone like me take over the chart preparation and arrangements of the songs he still needed to record for his next album. As I have 'perfect pitch,' it was easy for me to write down Van's new songs – sometimes over the phone at 2 a.m."[4]

Other releases[edit]

"Saint Dominic's Preview" was one of the live performances recorded and included on Morrison's 1974 acclaimed live album, It's Too Late To Stop Now. It is also one of the songs performed in 1979, on Morrison's first video Van Morrison in Ireland, released in 1981. The original recording was remastered in 2007 and included on the compilation album, Still on Top - The Greatest Hits.



  1. ^ Heylin, Can You Feel the Silence?, p. 520
  2. ^ a b Hinton. Celtic Crossroads. p. 142. 
  3. ^ Rogan. No Surrender, p. 274
  4. ^ Wrench. Saint Dominic's Flashback, p.1731/3575