Thursday, July 19, 2007

Astral Weeks


Van Morrison is, famously, a bit of a miserable bastard. It's quite understandable really. Having a face like a squashed badger didn't give him much chance with the 1960's 'beautiful people'. The gutteral Belfast accent, once accurately described as 'like listening to a Glaswegian being strangled', can't have helped much either.

I suppose the final blow to his fragile self esteem must have been having a girlfriend called Janet Planet. I know the hippies were all tossers, but a name like that really takes some beating.

It's a shame he's so crabbit, but I suppose it's one of reasons why he's one of the few genuine white bluesmen.

I don't think I could live without Astral Weeks. Its not that I listen to it that often, it's just that I know that it will always be there when I am half cut and feeling maudlin.

There can't have been many people writing songs about transvestites in 1968. Even Leonard Cohen wasn't into gender benders, and I can't imagine Jim Morrison singing paeans to male blouse wearers (even if he wasn't averse to wearing one).

Anyone who can get their head round Van's voice (he sounds like he's sitting on the toilet squeezing out a hedgehog turd) on this album will be a convert for life. The songs are wonderful and their delivery inimitable. Best of all are the spare backing arrangements: a loping, ethereal, jazzy undertow that haunts.

Van Morrison was 23 when he recorded Astral weeks. He hasn't bettered it.

7 comments:

MJ said...

Long-time Van-fan here. He stones me to my soul.

*ponders people writing songs about transvestites in 1968*

Lola? By the Kinks? Or was that later?

garfer said...

1970.

Tsk.

MJ said...

And Van never would have rhymed Lola with Cola.

Victrola, perhaps.

garfer said...

Or tombola.

MJ said...

Al Di Meola.

Shall I fuck off now?

First Nations said...

walk on the wild side? lou reed?

garfer said...

1972.