When Astral Weeks was released in 1969, very few people got it. When I bought the record from a friend 13 years ago, I didn’t really get it either. In fact I wanted my money back. My friend promised that the album would grow on me if I’d just give it a few more spins. By the third listen, Astral Weeks had completely overwhelmed me with its raw emotional beauty. It has since ingrained itself deeply into my musical identity.
There really isn’t anything else quite like Astral Weeks â€” it was unprecedented when it came out and nothing has compared to it since. Even Van Morrison, for all his creative powers, never topped this early peak (although 1974’s Veedon Fleece comes close). Nothing written on Astral Weeks can ever truly capture its essence — the music speaks for itself. That said, writing about the album feels like one of the hardest things I could possibly do. Rather than try to rally my best adjectives and sing the album’s praises, I will avoid the standard drivel and, as Van sings, “venture in the slipstream.”