Saturday, April 17, 2004

#10) Van Morrison - Moondance (released in 1970, my supervisor at a library I used to work at loaned me several of Morrison's albums. I grabbed a cheap copy on vinyl at City Lights not long after. The rest I either didn't need to own or could settle for taping)

I've never cottoned to Astral Weeks, which always feels too indulgent and murky for me to find it as transcendent as so many do (though I'll undoubtedtly give it another try some year). Instead, this is the album that makes Morrison seem truly mystical to me, thanks to adding, as Robert Christgau put it, "punchy brass (including pennywhistles and foghorn) and a solid backbeat (including congas) to his folk-jazz swing, and a popwise formal control to his Gaelic poetry." The best musical artists are able to naturally merge their influences under the focus of their personal expression, and this album is a shining example of such focus. The lyrics cover just about everything that brings me pleasure in life, inspiring so much goodwill that I actually enjoy reading the flowery "fable" by his wife in the liner notes. Moondance is so pleasant and unindulgent that I'm probably going to make a tape of it soon so that I can play it in on my walkman this summer. It begs to be heard in the open air.

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