On August 11, 2017 Blue Note Records released Van’s third album “Popular”. Shelved since 2007, is now finally available to stream and purchase (follow this link).
“I put my whole world into making this record. But looking back, my world was a different place then. I was different, then. I thought my world was all there was. I was to learn that the emotions on that record couldn’t overwhelm the events that would befall its release. piracy, changing technology, collapsing economy — we — this entire industry — went under.
I say, “we” because while my peers celebrated the crumbling of the major label system, I lamented the loss of an infrastructure that had produced the magic that made me want to make music. Listen to Sam Cooke’s ‘A Change is Gonna Come’ and tell me where in today’s commercial landscape, with the focus on creating connections between services and customers – and not content, can that kind of raw emotion be shaped by state of the art engineering and packaged up for a listening audience? There was much more than an economic lattice that was shifting, there was a channel for apprenticeship of craft that was closing. It was the eve of revolution; and the morning after awaited. only now, recording artists had fewer tools with which to face it. I suspected that, despite the glee with which “indies” cheered the death of goliath, every minor wants to be a major — and as with all revolutions, lamentations are paved over by first memories while the new business model is formed from old architecture and unknown phenomena. One lesson remains obvious, though: we are all responsible for the society that births our culture, and the manner in which it is nurtured. And that is why I approached blue note with an idea for a fresh start. My strength allows me to be proud of the last 10 years. Their sincerity allows me to be excited about the next.
I’ve cried three times in the last 10 years. And none of those were when I was told that ‘Popular’ wouldn’t be released. I cried whenever I felt justified for making that record. In the face of a churning reality, it took one online comment from a listener, and two emails from Blue Note — one with a release date, and one with the album’s press release – to let me know I wasn’t crazy for hanging on all this time.
And, if I may allow myself one more indulgence, I will wade in the praise of my woman – the hidden source of this record. She said, “you will show them what timelessness means.” And another quote from a friend says, “You get mad respect as an artist and in these days of false idols and idiocy that means something. Anybody that can produce beauty in the midst of this shit is Enlightened.”