" is a blues-influenced song written and recorded by Northern Irish singer-songwriter Van Morrison
, recorded for the Bang Records
label in 1967
and included on his first solo album, Blowin' Your Mind!
. It later appeared on the Bang compilation, T.B. Sheets
. The story as told in the song takes place in a hospital
room where a young girl lies dying of tuberculosis
and is visited by the storyteller. The overwhelming pain and guilt he feels leads to a desperate feeling of wanting to escape from the closed-in room smelling of death
"T.B. Sheets" was the opening song and featured prominently in the 1999 movie Bringing Out the Dead, directed by Martin Scorsese.
review states, "The listener is placed in the room. Although somewhat disturbing, it certainly describes the term realism with one bold masterful stroke".
John Collis describes the song's theme thusly:
First of all, the singer chides the terminally ill invalid for crying. "It ain't natural," he says. The woman cries all night and the observer, trapped in the death room, is embarrassed and helpless. Later in the song, the sun bouncing off a crack in the window pane "numbs my brain",...And then there's the crushing claustrophobia of the sickroom - "Let me breathe," he demands of the woman whose breath is failing, bubbling in cheesy lungs. There is a street below, a street she'll never walk in again, and he is getting desperate to be down there, to rejoin the living, because "the cool room is a fool's room".
Brian Hinton described the song's music as follows:
Here is a Dickensian tale of death and decay in a big city. Organ and drums go free form, then a stately groove, fitting Van's voice like a garrotte, led by nagging lead guitar. Van's harmonica hurts the ear, then he's like a terrier, lecturing his girfriend, "Julie" about it not being natural her staying awake at night, dying.
John Lee Hooker
- Collis, John (1996). Inarticulate Speech of the Heart, Little Brown and Company, ISBN 0-306-80811-0
- Hinton, Brian (1997). Celtic Crossroads: The Art of Van Morrison, Sanctuary, ISBN 1-86074169X
- Heylin, Clinton (2003). Can You Feel the Silence? Van Morrison: A New Biography, Chicago Review Press, ISBN 1-55652-542-7