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Van Morrison – Astral Weeks (1968)

March 21, 2013

[Album 160/1001]220px-VanMorrisonAstralWeeks

I’m done with Brown Eyed Girl.

There is nothing inherently wrong with it & the song does seem to bring joy to many.  Considering the available alternatives (even within the Van Morrison catalogue), does it really merit the decades of airtime it has/continues to receive?

Perhaps the G-C-D-Em accessibility to amateur guitarists and the ‘sha-la-la’ campfire-friendly vocals are to blame.  As a result, after the few times a year it makes an appearance at such a sing-a-long gathering, I don’t feel a strong urge to listen to the original studio recording.

Then one day, (friend/author/one of the great Secondary School Girls Ice Hockey coaching minds of our time) James Tallon suggested I explore Astral Weeks.

If Brown Eyed Girl had a straight-forward chord pattern, the bulk of this record is even more simplified, often a back-and-forth between two chords.  Full marks to Van Morrison here: several songs extend beyond seven minutes (one even approaches ten) and even with the basic structures, it’s not boring.

If I were a betting man, I’d wager at least a couple of the members of U2 heard Astral Weeks prior to recording All I Want Is You.

Of course I appreciate that the harpsichord makes an appearance on Cyprus Avenue.

I’m not sure if I’ve completely bought into his voice.  I’m not sure if I concur with the folks at Rolling Stone who listed this as the 19th greatest album of all time.

I’m fairly certain at least that I’m not done with Astral Weeks.

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From → 1960s

3 Comments
  1. Fantastic…and objective…write-up on an excellent album that is slightly overrated by some critics & fans, in my opinion. My own blog originally started two years ago with me exploring Van’s entire discography, leaving “Astral Weeks” for the end since I’ve always enjoyed it but never found it to be the life-altering experience that so many others do. I wanted to really get to know all of his other albums and THEN listen to it with open ears and…my opinion didn’t really change. I even got a 180-gram vinyl copy a few months after wrapping up my series on Van, which offered a warmth that wasn’t apparent on my ’80s-pressed CD copy, but I think it will always be an album I like a lot but don’t love to my core. As I’ve done for the past 20 years, I’ll listen to it at least once a year to see if my feelings change. I hope it does. And I’ll continue to get berated by friends who tell me I haven’t given it enough time and probably don’t know his music that well, and I’ll silently laugh.

  2. I’m wondering if Astral Weeks is one of those records that’s a bit like high school algebra – some people “get it” instantly and for others, the switch doesn’t go right away. I like your philosophy to keep coming back to it with fresh ears – I think I’ll be in that boat, enjoying the album, but the full magic hasn’t hit me yet!

Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. Van Morrison – It’s Too Late to Stop Now (1974) | 1001albumsin10years

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