Music is a huge part of life, the part that never let’s you down. An ever present core in a topsy turvy world. It soothes the soul, it ignites a fire and it calms a storm. It just about does anything you will allow it to do. I can’t imagine a world without great music and the memories of great moments. It’s the tapestry of your life, the weaver’s answer. It satisfies, it purifies and it magnifies everything in us. It’s completes us. And now as you look at the current turmoil the music industry is going through you hope there is a way for the great artists of then, and especially now to survive. Their legacy needs to remain for those that dare I say weren’t as fortunate as me to be groomed on such incredible music. But here and now is not the place to dissect, criticize or analize what was once the greatest story ever told. That’s for another time. So for now join me in my world and let me tell you a story, a story about what in my humble opinion is the greatest record ever made.
There is no possible reason or logic to how a twenty two year old man could be able to make a record as fundamentally brilliant as Astral Weeks. Yet Van Morrison did. How anyone so young could craft a piece of artistic magnificence such as this bewilders me. Yet Van Morrison did. You would really need life’s rich pastures to have ploughed a little over you to write something as spiritually uplifting and artistically complete as this. Yet Van Morrison didn’t. On the contrary, the making of this was his exodus from youth and ascension to maturity. Had I been in any position of influence I would have knighted him without question. If there was a throne to be had, he should rightly have claimed it. You’re right, I like this record.
For someone to even come close to lyrical perfection is inconceivable. From the first notes of the title track of Astral Weeks Van Morrison seduces you, you fall in love before the first chorus chimes. In his own words, ‘Didn’t I come to bring you a brand new sense of wonder’
‘If I ventured in the slipstream. Between the viaducts of your dream.
Where immobile steel rims crack. And the ditch in the back roads stop.
Could you find me? Would you kiss-a-my-eyes
To lay me down. In silence easy
To be born again. To be born again.
No one sings like that. No one will ever sing like that. But enough of my glowing accolade for the man and this music, let’s look at some of the documented facts, embellished more abundantly in Wikipedia and various other scribblings. This is a record that had a massive impact on us mere mortals and changed the way a lot of us looked at music. It most certainly had an effect on us that has allowed it to last for so long. This shivered our spine and touched our soul. It made us smile while we shed a tear. It moved us more than music should, it is magnificence personified. It’s Picasso and Rembrandt, Mozart and Chopin. It’s everything you love and long to hold. To be born again indeed.
Astral Weeks was the second solo album by Van Morrison, recorded in New York and released in November 1968. To this day, it remains in an unclassifiable music genre and has been described variously as hypnotic, meditative, and as possessing a unique musical power. It has been compared to French impressionism and mystical Celtic poetry.( Wikipedia) “This is music of such enigmatic beauty that thirty-five years after its release, Astral Weeks still defies easy, admiring description.’ ( Rolling Stone…. though replace thirty five with forty four years since it’s release)
I am particularly fond of this poetic analysis of the title track.’ The most wonderful essay about this album can be found here. I think it’ll help you get closer to the creative and mystical mind of the very young man who made Astral Weeks. I’m convinced that even Van couldn’t explain what some of these songs mean, as he opened up to let the mystic flow into him. He escaped all boundaries and made a timeless work about yearning and coming of age, about sex and death, acceptance and love. I’d put it up against some of the greatest poetry or prose we have. Once in a while over his career Van has touched something like this again, but rarely. St. Dominic’s Preview had some, Veedon Fleece had a lot, but never did he, nor anyone in this era, equal the beauty and enigma that is found in Astral Weeks. ‘
And most incredible of all, Van Morrison’s description of Astral Weeks from an unreported source and an interview he did in 2009
“You have to understand something,…A lot of this … there was no choice. I was totally broke. So I didn’t have time to sit around pondering or thinking all this through. It was just done on a basic pure survival level. I did what I had to do.”
If you love music it’s only natural to want to turn people on to something that you hold so close and hope they feel the same sense of appreciation. It’s a very personal record and one worth sharing. You want them to fall in love. The pleasure I get from the look on people’s faces when they hear it for the first time, that look that needs no words of accompaniment. A look that says, thank you for introducing me to this. Why would you not want to share something that has given you so much pleasure. Unless maybe it was your wife.
I could write more, maybe I will. But right now there’s some music I need to listen to. I bet you wish you were here, sweet thing.