To be honest, this is a very difficult album for me to write about.  It’s not because I have some deep emotional attachment to it, rather it’s because I simply don’t know that much about Van Morrison, which makes it difficult for me to find a perspective from which to write about it.  You see, my only other experience with Van Morrison was back in the fall of 1996 when I purchased “The Best of Van Morrison” at Used Kids Records for $7.  I bought it because I was heading up to Ashland University to pick up the Drama Queen…she loved the song “Brown Eyed Girl” (probably because she had brown eyes), and I wanted it to be playing in my car CD player (Hell0–CD–Play) when she got in the car.  Damn I was a cheese ball back then!  But anyhow, if I remember correctly, I think it had the desired effect.

So yeah, other than that song, John Mellencamp’s cover of “Wild Night” with Me’Shell Ndegeocello and Willie Phoenix covering “Gloria” every time I see him live, I haven’t had much exposure to Van Morrison until I picked this album up on Amazon for $6.87.  And right away, I discovered that this album is completely different from any of those other songs.  The opening strums of the acoustic guitar at first made me think this album would be folksy, but gradually other influences become present.  Specifically, the flute and strings give the impression of classical chamber music, while at the same time several of the song structures are actually lifted from blues and jazz (“Cyprus Avenue” is in a straight 12-bar blues form).  It’s definitely an odd mix, but it all seems to work mostly because of the power of Van Morrison’s voice.  Channeling the power of ’50s rock ‘n roll and Mississippi Delta blues (pretty amazing for an Irish lad), Van Morrison’s soulful voice carries this record, even in its most ethereal moments.

Other lists: Van Morrison comes in at #24 on Rolling Stone’s list of the 100 Greatest Singers and #42 on the list of the 100 Greatest Artists.

My favourite track: “Astral Weeks”

Honourable mention: “The Way Young Lovers Do”

Quote: “Then we sat on our own star and dreamed of the way that we were and the way that we were meant to be”

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