I put on Van Morrison's Astral Weeks today for this first time in a while. It's truly my favorite record ever. Its so perfect in the summertime, for a drive down to the beach with yr girl.I wrote this short piece on the record last year for a rad canadian blog called herohill:
I have such a sense of wonder about Van Morrison's Astral Weeks. I'll always remember when I was first getting into the record sitting in a pizza shop near Lake George, NY with the girl I'd eventually marry and finding "Sweet Thing" on an old diner-style jukebox and I just sat there and looked into her eyes as this perfect music filled the room and time stood still. I used to seek the record out in bars and when I found it I'd lean against the jukebox, with a pint of Guinness maybe, and try to get people to listen or maybe just close my eyes. Usually they just had The Best of Van Morrison so it was just that song "Sweet Thing," or maybe a good Irish pub would have The Waterboys’ record Fisherman's Blues with a great cover of that same song.
The performances on Astral Weeks seem superhuman to me. Van's singing on the record mystifies me. His phrasing seems like it is infinitely nuanced–the way he twists words in and out of themselves and gets into these bizarre repetitions, or his sense of dynamics in the way he can be so gentle and sweet and then so powerful and attack these incredible high notes so fiercely. When I first heard the record it seemed like all the other musicians were at times so terribly out of time and chaotic. I heard all these mistakes at first but now it all seems so perfect and virtuosic. The crazy upright bass playing and the heady, wild string parts.
The way I listen to music has changed in the last couple years and I love how you can get into all kinds of music through mp3 blogs and itunes and it all feels really liberating and exciting to me as an artist and as a fan of music, but I think there's something about the process that lends itself to an appreciation of music that needs to be more instantly accessible and immediate. Along with that comes a certain degree of disposability and I think I've hit a sort of saturation point in the last couple of months where I've been gravitating towards music that maybe is more challenging but also has greater degree of substance to it. Astral Weeks is a record that you can really immerse yourself in. There's something so emotionally powerful and cathartic about it. For me, the record is an insanely beautiful world in and of itself.
here is a cover song i recorded to go along with the herohill piece:
the way young lovers do (van morrison cover) - beat radio