Today we come back to Van Morrison for his next released album, “Moondance”. This album was recorded and structured for a greater commercial appeal than the highly regarded “Astral Weeks”, and he was definitely successful with that goal. This album is rated #120 on Rolling Stone’s Top 500 Greatest Albums of All Time. As a comparison, “Astral Weeks” was #60.
I’m a big fan of both albums and of Van Morrison in general, but I can see why this album had a better reception. In general, the songs are shorter and more upbeat, and there are some amazing songs on this album, including what I consider to be the ultimate Van Morrison song, “Into the Mystic”. I will share my own tragic “Into the Mystic” story a bit later, but let’s look at the rest of the album first.
It opens with the warm “And It Stoned Me”, an excellent opening track with lush horns. Next comes the well-known jazzy title track “Moondance”. Once again, film association enters my head as I always think of the horror-comedy film (is there such a thing?) “An American Werewolf in London”. Anyway, this song is a perfect mood setter on any night where your heart and mind are in the same place. This whole album carries that same vibe, following with “Crazy Love”. Two tracks later, we reach the peak of romantic emotional impact with “Into the Mystic”, one of the greatest love songs ever.
The entire album has great flow and there isn’t a bad song in the mix, so if I had to choose, I would rate this as my favorite Van Morrison album over the more experimental “Astral Weeks”. Ten beautifully produced songs in 38 minutes, a great listen from beginning to end.
So, about two years ago, I saw Van Morrison in concert for the first time. Through the course of the night, I was greeted with unfamiliar songs I enjoyed, as well as the expected… “Brown Eyed Girl”, “Moondance”, “Crazy Love”, and others, as I waited patiently for “Into the Mystic”. And then, it happened. The lights came up, the band left the stage, the amphitheater emptied, and there I was left, still waiting. How in the world does Van Morrison play a show and not play “Into the Mystic”? Two years and counting, and I’m still waiting for him to make this right.