Astral Weeks is the second studio album by Northern Irish singer-songwriter Van Morrison. Recorded in 1968, it follows on from the Early Installment Weirdness debut solo album Blowin' Your Mind, and represents Morrison's first bout of relative creative freedom after breaking with Bert Berns. The eight tracks were recorded in September-October 1968 and released in November of that year.
Astral Weeks sold poorly when it was first released, but is consistently listed amongst the Greatest Albums of All Time. According to music historian Andrew Ford, "Astral Weeks will sell as many copies this year as it did in 1968 and has every year in between."
Morrison followed it two years later with the far more popular and accessible album Moondance.
Track listingPart One: In the Beginning
- "Astral Weeks" (7:06)
- "Beside You" (5:16)
- "Sweet Thing" (4:25)
- "Cyprus Avenue" (7:00)
Part Two: Afterwards
- "The Way Young Lovers Do" (3:18)
- "Madame George" (9:45)
- "Ballerina" (7:03)
- "Slim Slow Slider" (3:17)
If I ventured through the Trope-Stream...
- Alliterative Title: "Slim Slow Slider".
- All Love Is Unrequited: "Cyprus Avenue".
- Drag Queen: "Madame George".
- Epic Rocking: "Astral Weeks", "Cyprus Avenue", "Ballerina", and especially "Madame George".
- Happy Rain: Both "Sweet Thing" and "The Way Young Lovers Do" use the lines "Fields all wet with rain". Something of a motif for Van.
- Neoclassical Punk Zydeco Rockabilly: Introduced Van's unique blend of R&B, Blues, Jazz, and Irish Folk Music. Critics sometimes call it "Celtic Soul", though others contend that its genre is essentially unclassifiable. It resembles nothing that had preceded it and little that followed.
- New Sound Album: Followed the Pop-Soul Blowin' Your Mind. It set the tone for the rest of Van's career.
- Ode to Youth: Most of the album is this, concerning Van's youthful memories of an idealized Belfast.
- Scatting: Frequent, most obviously throughout "Astral Weeks" and the bridge of "The Way Young Lovers Do".
- Shout-Out: "Talkin' to Huddie Ledbetter/Showin' pictures on the wall..." The latter line is reference to the fact that Van always hung a poster of Lead Belly on his wall in the 60's.
- Sudden Downer Ending: At the end of "Slim Slow Slider", and therefore the album.