Today in 1945, the birthday of singer/songwriter Van Morrison.

Even his biggest fans and his loudest critics can agree that the guy does not like being told what to do.

And he proved it by recording one of the strangest albums in the history of music.

Morrison started performing in and around Belfast before he was a teenager.

Very quickly, he became known for his powerful voice and his very strong, or you might say stubborn, personality.

One of his bandmates from way back remembered a time that Morrison didn’t speak to anybody for like three days.

Anyway, Morrison had a series of early hits, like “Brown-Eyed Girl” and “Gloria,” but he wasn’t interested in just making hit singles for the rest of his career.

The trick was, that’s exactly what his record company, Bang Records, wanted.

And since he was under contract, that’s what he was supposed to do.

Morrison had his associates work out a solution: he would get to leave for a record company that would let him make his own kind of music, but first he would, among other conditions, give Bang Records several dozen more songs.

What happened next is what people in our time call malicious compliance.

Morrison did go into a recording studio and he did put some of his songs on tape there, but the contract didn’t say those songs had to be good.

These songs were barely songs at all.

Morrison seemed to make them up on the spot on an increasingly out of tune guitar.

And the longer the session went, the more random the songs got.

He makes fun of record company people by name, he complains that his royalty check is overdue, and one song is about being offered a danish right after you just ate.

Those completely tossed off songs (plus a bag full of money) were enough to get Morrison out of his old record deal.

And he made the most of the opportunity: not after he was singing songs like “Dum Dum George,” “Freaky If You Got This Far” and “You Say France And I Whistle,” he was leading the sessions for his first breakthrough album “Astral Weeks.”

Unlike that previous session, Morrison was definitely trying when he made that record.

If you’re hearing about the new school year and wondering if you should be a lifelong learner, consider this: MIT’s Physical Education & Wellness program offers a certificate in piracy.

Seriously, you can take courses in archery, fencing, pistols and sailing, and then you get a piracy certificate on imitation parchment.

Or is that parrrrrchment?

Shelved: Van Morrison’s Contractual Obligation Album (Longreads)

One of The Country’s Most Competitive Universities Offers Pirate Accreditation—Seriously (The Mary Sue)

It’s a marvelous night for backing this show on Patreon