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Bulbs (song)

Single by Van Morrison
from the album Veedon Fleece
A-side "Bulbs"
B-side "Cul de Sac"
Released November 1974
Recorded March 1974, Mercury Studios, New York City, United States
Genre Folk-Rock
Length 4:19
Label Warner Bros.
Writer(s) Van Morrison
Producer(s) Van Morrison
Van Morrison singles chronology
"Ain't Nothing You Can Do"
Veedon Fleece track listing
"You Don't Pull No Punches, But You Don't Push the River"
"Cul de Sac"

"Bulbs" is a song written by Northern Irish singer-songwriter Van Morrison and included on his 1974 album, Veedon Fleece. It was chosen as the 'A' side single from the album.


  • Recording and composition 1
  • Critical reception 2
  • Title 3
  • Personnel 4
  • Other releases 5
  • Covers 6
  • External links 7
  • Notes 8
  • References 9

Recording and composition

"Bulbs" was first recorded with different lyrics at the recording session for the 1973 album, Hard Nose the Highway released in 1973.[1]'. After the first recording session for Veedon Fleece, "Bulbs" was recut in New York City at Mercury Studios in March 1974, along with "Cul de Sac" to give it a more rock feeling. According to Jef Labes this was "cause he (Morrison) didn't feel they had the right feeling...It was me, Van and a bunch of other guys that he'd never played with."[2] Bass player Joe Macho had previously played on the 1966 Bobby Hebb hit song "Sunny".

"Bulbs" has been described as "a pleasant, catchy country ditty, a Dire Straits song before its time" by biographer, John Collis.[3] As with many of Morrison's songs, "Bulbs" does not have a clear story line but in part focuses on immigration to America as in the lines:

She's leaving Pan American
Suitcase in her hand
I said her brothers and her sisters
Are all on Atlantic sand

Critical reception

In an interview with Morrison, Tom Donahue said, after he had listened to "Bulbs": "You always make great noises. The other things you do in songs beside the words."[4]

In a Stylus Magazine review for the album, Veedon Fleece, Derek Miller says of this song:[5]

"Of course, the best and most immediately memorable song on Veedon Fleece is "Bulbs". Coming about as close to laying down a groove as he does on the album, the song quickly makes dust of its acoustic start, leaping headstrong into a Waylon Jennings' style bass-roll, rump heavy and plush, pianos shimmering and fingerdense."

Morrison played the song on the German television show Musikladen on 13 November 1974.


The title might come from the lines:

And her batteries are corroded
And her hundred watt bulb just blew
or the repeated chorus:
.. she's standing in the shadows
Where the street lights all turn blue


Other releases

A live performance of this song is featured on the 1974 disc of Morrison's 2006 issued DVD, Live At Montreux 1980/1974. Morrison used a stripped down band on this Montreaux Jazz Festival appearance that consisted of:


Ellis Hooks performed a cover version of "Bulbs" on the 2003 released tribute album, Vanthology: A Tribute to Van Morrison.[6]

External links

  • lyrics at


  1. ^ Heylin, Can You Feel the Silence? p. 521
  2. ^ Heylin, Can You Feel the Silence? p.284
  3. ^ Collis, Inarticulate Speech of the Heart, pp.140-141
  4. ^ Hinton, Celtic Crossroads, p. 179
  5. ^
  6. ^


  • Collis, John (1996). Inarticulate Speech of the Heart, Little Brown and Company, ISBN 0-306-80811-0
  • Heylin, Clinton (2003). Can You Feel the Silence? Van Morrison: A New Biography, Chicago Review Press ISBN 1-55652-542-7
  • Hinton, Brian (1997). Celtic Crossroads: The Art of Van Morrison, Sanctuary, ISBN 1-86074-169-X
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