Astral Weeks: A Secret History of 1968

I look back with an awesome sense of wonder how the music in 1968 established my artistic consciousness. In those days I was listening to 12″ vinyl records on a hi-fi phonograph in my room and progressive rock music on a boom-box like radio from WNEW-FM 102.7 in New York City.

My Facebook music feed uncovered a new book from that era,  Astral Weeks: A Secret History of 1968 by Ryan Harris. (Thanks, Chris Morris…)

If you have any affinity for the Van Morrison sui-generis masterpiece recording  Astral Weeks you should read Jon Michaud’s New Yorker article, “The Miracle of Van Morrison’s Astral Weeks”.  The article will whet your appetite to pursue further discovery surrounding the recording as well as the impact Boston had on Van Morrison’s muse in 1968.

When I think of the Bosstown Sound 1968 I flash on Ultimate Spinach, Beacon Street Union, Earth Opera, and Orpheus. Ryan Walsh expands substantially on the cultural experience Boston provided in 1968. I am elated to learn how the Boston scene proved integral to Van Morrison and Astral Weeks. I have always associated Astral Weeks with the hills of San Francisco. Little did I realize the astral plane was formed elsewhere.

Astral Weeks is one of a handful of LPs that I return to often. There is a special magic to these particular Van Morrison’s songs.

This video from the WNET Channel 13 Public Television Fillmore East broadcast, which I recall watching on my black and white TV complete with tin foil rabbit ears, shows Van getting caught one more time in “Cypress Avenue”. Watch the introduction from the late Bill Graham that captures Van’s essence perfectly why “It’s Too Late To Stop Now”.

 

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