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Linda Gail Lewis resurrects career with help of Van the Man

By Ken Burke, December 2000

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"I don't know if they're ever going to release it in the states," explains Lewis. "It's only sold a few thousand copies, and we really needed to sell at least 10,000 copies to get them to put it out here. But they didn't promote it at all. All the CDs sold were bought at my gigs."

Her latest career boost came from legendary Irish rocker Van Morrison, who brought Lewis into the studio to record the heady mix of r&b, country and flat-out rock'n'roll which can be heard on their new LP "You Win Again." (Virgin)

For Morrison, who belted r&b as well as any act from the British Invasion era, it is a triumphant return to the style he first performed with the band Them.

The stakes are different for Lewis; the disc provides a much-savored chance to display the best version of her talents on a wider scale. Fittingly, Lewis met Morrison at a Jerry Lee Lewis convention in England. After a soundcheck jam session, the enigmatic singer-songwriter proposed the sessions, which resulted in the album.

"All this happened within two weeks," says Lewis. "The album he had scheduled to release, he put on the shelf in favor of this one. Then, Van wouldn't commit to releasing the album until we knew how it was going to work live. Well, we had so much fun at the gig that we cut two more songs."

When asked if working with Morrison is different than with Jerry Lee, Lewis says, "It's not different because they both cut live on the floor, which is unheard of nowadays. When you go in, they're going to do a song one time. Now, if it's a total disaster, they may do it one more time. But your ass has got to get it quickly because they're not going to stand there and sing a song over and over. My brother and Van will say, 'Why would I do this again and again? Every time I do it, it'll be different.' They're not just memorizing something and then singing it, they're giving a performance."

Lewis also praises Morrison's country chops. "Why Don't You Love Me Like You Used To Do" brought tears to my eyes. He sings with so much feeling -- the way my brother does, the way Hank Williams did."

Upon hearing that she and Morrison sound quite sexy together, the happily married Lewis laughs, explaining, "When you're playing music or singing with someone, it's very similar to making love. It is a very intimate thing. Van is a singer who really gets into a song and so do I, so that's just naturally going to sound that way."

Lewis has been touring Europe with her new duet partner, playing piano during his solo spots and rocking the faithful with such Killer classics as "Great Balls Of Fire" and "Whole Lotta Shakin' Goin' On." They also are hitting the States for a winter tour.

Morrison has been financially generous, but Lewis has been overseas all but three weeks this year, and it's beginning to wear her down.

"Van and I laugh all the time because people think, 'Oh, Van Morrison and Linda Gail Lewis are singing duets while they're flying all over the world, having great sex and drinking champagne.' And it's not that at all! It's Van Morrison and Linda Gail Lewis working their asses off and if I didn't have my daughter Annie with me -- I'd be sitting here alone, singing the blues."

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