14. astral weeks

“When it comes to Van Morrison, it seems there are three types of people. The first have no opinion really. They just like it when Brown Eyed Girl gets played at weddings, and maybe Moondance, too. The second tend to argue that Van peaked with Them, howling out the Ulster punk blues circa 1965-66, and everything since has been self indulgent or whatever. And then there are those who hear the poetry of the opening lines from Astral Weeks (the song) and let’s just say, they get chills, the good kind, the transformative kind. The music humbles them, you might even say it saves them (at least in some small way) from narrow belief in a narrow universe in which everything is known, and that which isn’t will be soon enough, and thus defined by sober application of scientific data. Or nothing matters anyway, we’re all just over-evolved monkeys doing our worst to stay alive. Or it’s all fate, preordained by some all powerful, all terrible blind idiot God (and his minions). So either way – who f***ing cares?

I do actually. Which I suppose makes me a type three, the third kind, with nine Van Morrison albums on my shelf never far from reach, because you never know, nobody knows, but still we reach. And the one album that’s gotten grabbed the most over the years is Astral Weeks, the 1968 miracle that apparently just seemed to just come out of nowhere, and even today nobody’s really sure. The mystery continues, beautiful and profoundly necessary, or as Lester Bangs put it a few years after the fact: ‘In the condition I was in, it assumed at the time the quality of a beacon, a light on the far shores of the murk; what’s more, it was proof that there was something left to express artistically besides nihilism and destruction.’ In other words, yeah, what can I say? It sends me.” (Philip Random)

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451. the man in the long black coat

An atypical Dylan track, given its comparative lack of words, the man holding back some, letting the atmosphere speak (c/o Daniel Lanois’ masterful production). So in the end, it’s like a troubled dream that never resolves, just leaves you with questions and shadows and a palpable sense of dread.

BobDylan-1989-cigar

595. the dreaming

Kate Bush‘s fourth album, The Dreaming, is one of those artefacts that continues to force jaws to drop from beginning to end, every strange and delicious second. But if you’ve only got time for one song, go with the title track wherein a groove is stolen from a Rolf Harris song, then merged rather hilariously with the sound a kangaroo makes when it gets hammered by a van. And then it all just keeps deranging from there, as dreams will do.

KateBush-dreaming