Wednesday, December 07, 2011

13. Van Morrison, "Into the Mystic" (1970)


In previous exercises like this I have (absurdly, I admit) attempted to pass off side 1 of Moondance as "a song," even though there are actually five perfectly distinct songs on it and two of them—"Moondance" and "Crazy Love"—have suffered some exhaustion over these long years. I'm not doing that this time, but you should know that it's one of the great album sides and "Into the Mystic" does work somewhat better in the context of closing out the set, particularly coming after the deceptively gentle rockin' "Caravan" ("turn up your radio, turn it up")—somehow, in the moment, sailing off "into the mystic" seems an obvious next logical step. I might also as well have picked "And it Stoned Me," which opens the set, as it is nearly equally transcendent yet grounded in concrete, quotidian details that somehow add up to the joy he's at pains to communicate, here and all through most of his work ("Oh, the water / Let it run all over me"). Plus it just afforded me the opportunity to mention every song on the side. "Into the Mystic" is the point where Morrison is perhaps most plainly straightforward and yet concise and economical (at 3:30) about his ongoing, career-long project of the pursuit of ecstasy. When he reaches for the heights and unfurls the package and makes the big reveal with "I want to rock your gypsy soul" (yes, that's "gypsy soul"), it's a lot like the feeling I get at the one and only moment of pleasure I still find in flying travel, the moment at takeoff when the craft leaves the ground. Only I'm just sitting at home and Van Morrison is singing and some people are playing in a band, acoustic guitars and saxophones and piano and other things. Oh, and I love this factoid from Wikipedia: "It is among the most popular songs doctors listen to while operating."

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