In the hierarchy of enigmatic rock stars, Van Morrison is royalty. His oeuvre is as erratic as his infamous moods, but when the Irishman is on, he's thrilling. Author Greil Marcus (The Old, Weird America, Lipstick Traces, Mystery Train) examines Van the Man's work in his new book When That Rough God Goes Riding (PublicAffairs), subtitled Listening To Van Morrison, although it could be called Random Thoughts About Van. He analyzes Morrison's lifelong tendency to communicate through vocal phrasing rather than lyrical content and his ability to nail the “yarragh,” as Greil defines it, “a note so exalted you can't believe a mere human being is responsible for it.” A master of digression, Marcus also circuitously and entertainingly rambles on about Peter Green-era Fleetwood Mac and obscure blues singer Mattie May Thomas's MySpace page, yet cohesively wraps it up with a bow on top. He'll be reading from When That Rough God… and signing copies tonight. In our Dumb-Down Nation, Marcus is a smart respite from the raging stupidity and anti-intellectualism on every front, and yet knows how to have rock 'n' roll fun at the same time.

Fri., May 7, 7:30 p.m., 2010

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