Wednesday, July 18, 2007

No. 65: Moondance

Band: Van Morrison
Album: Moondance
Why Rolling Stone gets it right: "Moondance" is arguably Van Morrison's best record and it features "Into The Mystic," considered one of his best.
Why Rolling Stone gets it wrong: Van Morrison's lyrics are so verbose they are hard to follow and the music is so folk bland, it's easy to get bored.
Best song: I'll say "Into The Mystic," though "And It Stoned Me" is a lot of fun.
Worst song: "Glad Tidings" is kind of bad.
Is it awesome?: I like it slightly better than "Astral Weeks," but that's not saying a whole lot.

While a big part of this project is trying to downplay the tyranny of the boomers on music opinion-making in this country, I'd say that the boomers are often right. The boomers were present at/responsible for a lot of important stuff of the past 50 years. If pressed, I'd certainly argue a Beatles record as the best of all time (most likely "Revolver") and if I had to make a top 10 list of best records ever, there would be a fair share of boomer classics.

I say this because the truly great boomer relics are the ones that stand the test of time. Jefferson Airplane is the kind of drug/protest music that hasn't held up in the way the Beatles or Stones have. Donovan? Not so much. Dylan? Tes.

The more I listen to him and the more I think about him, Van Morrison hasn't stood the test of time. His music is of a place and time that doesn't really translate now. His soul/folk hybrid sound is kind of hokey now and his Doors-esque stoner sexpot religion are kind of ridiculous.

An example: Noted baby boomer Tony Kornheiser (the man to whom I credit my entire journalism career [it's a long story]) used to use "Into the Mystic" as bumper music for his radio show often. As he'd come back from breaks, he once mentioned a near-perfect night for him: Listening to "Into the Mystic" in a dark room while drinking Johnny Walker Blue and eating cashews. TK's ridiculously devoted fanbase has even made a t-shirt design based on that segment.

But, as souful as "Into the Mystic" is (and it is), what is that song really about? Anything? Nothing? Something about a spiritual journey? Sex?

Certainly sex is a big part of the song. The "rock your gyspy soul" line is hokey as hell, though not subtle. And the final portion of the song is mostly Morrison screaming "It's too late to stop now" over and over.

In fact, I'd compare "Into the Mystic" to a movie I saw recently, "Live Free or Die Hard." It's fun while it's going on, but the more you analyze it, the more holes you find. The more I write about "Into the Mystic," the less I enjoy it.

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