I picked this up at the Half-Price Books in Westerville for $5.99 (minus my 10% teacher discount), and I was excited when I saw it because there is a song named “Caravan” on it, and I wondered if it was a song that we played in marching band my freshman year of high school.  See, after my experience as an 8th grade band helper (all the coolest kids are band helpers at some point in their lives), I was excited to finally be a part of the real deal as a full-fledged saxophonist in the marching band.  And our very first show ever was a show of classic rock tunes, including a Beatles medley, Alice Cooper’s “School’s Out”, and a tune I didn’t know called “Caravan”, which featured an alto saxophone solo played by the section leader.  I hadn’t thought about that song in a long time, but I remember wanting to be section leader when I got older (it happened for me my senior year) so I could play solos like the one in that song (I think I had some solos in jazz band, but I never got one in marching band).  Those were good times that year…but actually Van Morrison’s “Caravan” is not the song we played back in the day.  After some research on the world wide inter-web, I discovered that it’s actually a Duke Ellington song.  But no matter…both songs are cool and it got me thinking and reminiscing, so it’s all good.

This album is way more accessible than “Astral Weeks” (which is probably why the fans like it more and the critics like it less).  When I first listened to it and I heard the song “Moondance”, I realized that I had heard it a million times before and that it has really become a sort of jazz standard over the years.  Most of these songs have a similar mixture of jazz and R&B wrapped up in a pop sensibility that just wasn’t there on “Astral Weeks”.  At times the horn lines and Morrison’s soulful singing remind me quite a bit of Otis Redding, while at other times the acoustic instruments and pop structures make me think of Jim Croce.  This is good hanging outside in the summer music, and it also reminds me quite a bit of summers relaxing up north on the shores of Lake Erie.  Good stuff.

Other lists: The song “Moondance” is #231 and “Into the Mystic” is #474 on Rolling Stone’s list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All-Time.

Ch-ch-changes: This album dropped one spot from its place on the original list due to the inclusion of CCR’s “Chronicle”.

My favourite track: “Moondance”

Honourable mention: “These Dreams of You”

A word from the Princess: “I always thought Van Morrison was some heavy metal dude”

Quote: “I’ve been used, abused, and so confused, and I had nowhere to run.  But I stood and looked, and my eyes got hooked on that beautiful morning sun.”