Can You Feel the Silence?

Author Clinton Heylin interviewed more than 100 people for "Can You Feel the Silence?" his new biography of Belfast-born music man Van Morrison. The result? Morrison, as with so many talented artists, is clearly brilliant and clearly troubled. Heylin is the author of a number of music business books, including Bob Dylan: Behind the Shades and Bootleg: The Secret History of the Other Recording Industry. He's got quite a mysterious subject to conquer this time around. At times, "Can You Feel the Silence?" reads a bit like a script for VH1's "Behind the Music." Still, this is an engaging book, particularly for Van fans who may not know much about the reclusive crooner. Particularly important is Heylin's exploration of the working-class Belfast Morrison was born into in 1945, and how that was incorporated into masterpiece albums such as "Moondance" and "Astral Weeks." Later, bad business decisions would leave Morrison penniless, even as his songs were topping the charts. Perhaps it's no wonder that, in the words of his onetime collaborator Linda Gail Lewis, Morrison's music "brings happiness to other people, not him." ($28 / 576 pages / Chicago Review Press)