Van Morrison Is More Than ‘Astral Weeks’—and He Damn Well Knows It

1960s: Days of Rage

Astral Weeks turns 50 this month. What a record. Lester Bangs, in perhaps the greatest piece of rock criticism ever written, poetically referred to the 1968 Van Morrison album as a ‘beacon, a light on the far shores of the murk.’ Greil Marcus, less poetically, called it ‘a profoundly intellectual album,’ and meant it as a compliment. Both would agree that Astral Weeks is one of the best 47-minute pieces of music ever created. A landmark in the fusion of rock and jazz. A masterpiece. But you’ve probably heard people talk about how great Astral Weeks is more than the album itself. Van Morrison’s next record, 1970’s Moondance, is far more popular; if you were sexually active in the late 20th century, Van Morrison likely howled ‘I wanna rock your Gypsy soul!’ at least once during an intimate moment. Given the album’s elevated position in the…

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