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‘Domino’ by Van Morrison – Classic Hit or Miss

It was released by Warner Bros. Records in October 1970 as the first of three singles from the album and reached number nine on the Billboard Hot 100 charts. As of 2010, “Domino” remains Morrison’s highest charting single ever, surpassing Morrison’s signature song, “Brown Eyed Girl” which had charted at number 10 in 1967.Morrison had written the song several years before it was released in 1970. With Lewis Merenstein as producer, it was recorded on three takes dating back to sessions in autumn 1968 at Warners Publishing Studio in New York City. Another eight takes of the song were recorded during several sessions in 1969 at the same studio and again with Merenstein as producer. The version released on His Band and the Street Choir was recorded in spring 1970 at A&R Recording Studios in New York City with Elliott Scheiner as engineer. Music journalist Erik Hage writes that one of the reasons for not releasing it until 1970 may have been that Morrison believed it could be a hit single and held it back to avoid it falling under the year long single clause in his contract release with Web IV. This release stated that the music publishing company would be entitled to one half of the copyright to any single released by Morrison in the year between September 1968 and September 1969.Morrison had received some high profile promotion when he appeared on a cover of Rolling Stone and was interviewed by Happy Traum in July 1970.As related by Morrison, he was subsequently encouraged by Warner Bros. to release radio-friendly singles: “The record company was asking me for singles, so I made some like “Domino”, which was actually longer but got cut down.” In fulfilling Warner’s desire for a hit song, Hage wrote that the “bright, tight, and groovy “Domino” fits the bill. The lyrics hit on a frequent Morrison theme, renewal, (‘I think it’s time for a change’), and the vocal dynamics, punctuated by ‘Lord have mercy’ nod to gospel and James Brown (who pulled heavily from gospel himself).”

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