Sir George Ivan “Van” Morrison, OBE
This week for Song Lyric Sunday, Jim Adams has encouraged us to “do our own thing”. We get to choose an artist and song to share with you. Most of you know that I am a big Van Morrison fan so I’m excited as I can share one of my all time favorite songs “Moondance”. It is from the album of the same name which was released in 1970. To me the song is so polished and it’s lively jazz feel makes it very special. Moondance is 50 years old and still sounds amazing. Van Morrison is to me the complete artist, writing and performing songs and sounding as good today, if not better, than he ever did. It’s as if his music is transcending time.
Moondance is the third studio album by Northern Irish singer-songwriter Van Morrison, OBE, the Northern Irish singer-songwriter, knighted by Queen Elizabeth II in her birthday honors in 2015. It was released on 27 January 1970 by Warner Bros. Records. After the commercial failure of his first Warner Bros. album Astral Weeks (1968), Morrison moved with his wife, Janet Planet, to a home on a mountain top in the Catskills near Woodstock, a hamlet in upstate New York with an artistic community. According to Planet, he was influenced by Bob Dylan, who had just moved out of town when Morrison arrived. “Van fully intended to become Dylan’s best friend”, Planet recalled. “Every time we’d drive past Dylan’s house … Van would just stare wistfully out the window at the gravel road leading to Dylan’s place. He thought Dylan was the only contemporary worthy of his attention.”
The album found Morrison abandoning the abstract folk jazz compositions of Astral Weeks in favour of more formally composed songs, which he wrote and produced entirely himself. Its lively rhythm and blues/rock music was the style he would become most known for in his career. The music incorporated soul, jazz, pop, and Irish folk sounds into songs about finding spiritual renewal and redemption in worldly matters such as nature, music, romantic love, and self-affirmation.
Morrison began writing songs for Moondance in July 1969. Because of Astral Weeks‘s poor sales figures, the singer wanted to produce a record that would be more accessible and appealing to listeners. “I make albums primarily to sell them and if I get too far out a lot of people can’t relate to it”, he later said. “I had to forget about the artistic thing because it didn’t make sense on a practical level. One has to live.” The musicians who went on to record Moondance with Morrison were recruited from Woodstock and would continue working with him for several years, including guitarist John Platania, saxophonist Jack Schroer, and keyboardist Jef Labes. The singer left after the Woodstock music festival in August attracted an influx of people to the area.
Moondance was an immediate critical and commercial success. It helped establish Morrison as a major artist in popular music, while several of its songs became staples on FM radio in the early 1970s. Among the most acclaimed records in history, Moondance frequently ranks in professional listings of the greatest albums. In 2013, the album’s remastered deluxe edition was released to similar acclaim.
Although the album never topped the record charts, it sold continuously for the next 40 years of its release, particularly after its digitally remastered reissue in 1990. In 1996, Moondance was certified triple platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America, having shipped three million copies in the US.
In the years following the original release, Moondance has been frequently ranked as one of the greatest albums ever. In 1978, it was voted the 22nd best album of all time in Paul Gambaccini’s poll of 50 prominent American and English rock critics. Christgau, one of the critics polled, named it the 7th best album of the 1970s in The Village Voice the following year. In a retrospective review, Nick Butler from Sputnikmusic considered Moondance to be the peak of Morrison’s career and “maybe of non-American soul in general”, while Spin deemed it “the great white soul album” in an essay accompanying the magazine’s 1989 list of the all-time 25 greatest albums, on which Moondance was ranked 21st. In 1999, the album was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame, and in 2003, it was placed at number 65 on Rolling Stone‘s list of The 500 Greatest Albums of All Time. (It was ranked 66th in a 2012 revised list.) The album was also included in the 2000 edition of Colin Larkin’s All Time Top 1000 Albums (where it placed at number 79), the music reference book 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die (2005), and Time magazine’s 2006 list of the “All-TIME 100 Albums”. The following year, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame named Moondance one of their “Definitive 200” albums, ranking it 72nd. In 2009, Hot Press polled numerous Irish recording artists and bands, who voted it the 11th best Irish album of all time. Based on such rankings, the aggregate website Acclaimed Music lists it as the 96th most acclaimed album in history.
Ryan H. Walsh wrote in Pitchfork:
“The album would solidify Van Morrison as an FM radio mainstay, act as a midwife for the burgeoning genre of ‘soft rock,’ and help usher in the ’70s in America, where the beautiful hippie couples of the late ’60s would soundtrack their developing newfound domestic comfort with the sweet sounds of Morrison’s mystical love-anthems.”
Lyrics Well, it's a marvelous night for a moondance With the stars up above in your eyes A fantabulous night to make romance 'Neath the cover of October skies And all the leaves on the trees are falling To the sound of the breezes that blow And I'm trying to please to the calling Of your heart-strings that play soft and low And all the night's magic seems to whisper and hush And all the soft moonlight seems to shine in your blush Can I just have one more moondance with you, my love Can I just make some more romance with you, my love Well, I want to make love to you tonight I can't wait 'til the morning has come And I know now the time is just right And straight into my arms you will run And when you come my heart will be waiting To make sure that you're never alone There and then, all my dreams will come true, dear There and then, I will make you my own And every time I touch you, you just tremble inside And I know how much you want me, that you can't hide Can I just have one more moondance with you, my love Can I just make some more romance with you, my love Well, it's a marvelous night for a moondance With the stars up above in your eyes A fantabulous night to make romance 'Neath the cover of October skies And all the leaves on the trees are falling To the sound of the breezes that blow And I'm trying to please to the calling Of your heart-strings that play soft and low And all the night's magic seems to whisper and hush And all the soft moonlight seems to shine in your blush Can I just have one more moondance with you, my love Can I just make some more romance with you, my love One more moondance with you, in the moonlight On a magic night La, la, la, la, la in the moonlight On a magic night Can't I just have one more moondance with you my love Source: LyricFind Songwriters: Van Morrison Moondance lyrics © Warner Chappell Music, Inc
Top Photo: Courtesy of vanmorrison.com
Second Photo: Courtesy of Getty Images
Moondance story Courtesy of Wiki
I have the CD. Great choice!
Very cool song, and I’ve always liked it. Thanks for the write up, and now I know who sings it. 🙂
Thanks Barbara! I’m happy you liked it. 🙂💕
Good pick Christine!
Thanks Darnell. He had the jazz in him then and it never left. ☺️
Didn’t know back story about his infatuation with Dylan
Me neither but I think everyone was infatuated with Dylan around that time. ☺️
<3 just what I needed to hear. Great choice!
Thanks Jilly 💕
Great jazzy tune! Wonderful choice this week! 🙂
Thanks Lisa. Yes I just love that jazzy song! 🥰
Great song! Perfectly chosen for the season, too. 🙂
Thank you! Yes, that reference to “‘neath the cover of October skies” was timely ☺️
Great song Christine especially when you listen to it under the cover of October skies.
Yes! Don’t you love that line? 👍☺️