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Chicago Blues

TBT – Van Morrison’s “Moondance” Shines Brightly

October 22
23:40 2015


Editor’s Note: This week we look back at an important milestone album that affected several genres including pop, folk, jazz, blues, and rhythm & blues. In fact, this album continues to influence artists today.

1970 ushered in the dawn of a new decade. Throughout the social landscape, establishment icons hope that this new decade would produce less upheaval and unrest than the previous decade had, allowing institutions to move forward with their agendas with less resistance and expenditure of resources. The musical landscape had seen a great upheaval during the previous decade as well. There had been great change, and this change had given birth to entirely genres including folk-rock, acid-rock, psychedelic-rock, prog-rock, along with the beginnings of hard-rock, glam-rock, and even what would later become “metal.”

When Van Morrison released Moondance in January of 1970, it was the very beginning of a time for new adventures, new directions, new art. Musicians were ready to move on, journeying into a new age, carrying with them the best of what they had learned and accomplished the past few years. With their hard won experience and lessons they were ready to build a new musical edifice; one built on a solid foundation of strength of form, and uninhibited freedom of expression, yet one that broke the rules as long as it served to advance the quality and spirit of the music.

Moondance, released the 27th of January, 1970, and issued on the Warner Brothers label, was the third studio album form Van Morrison. Unlike its predecessor, Astral Weeks, Moondance was a critical and commercial success. As time advanced, Moondance would be the foundation upon which the legend of Morrison would be built, and there could not have possibly been a stronger, more stable cornerstone than this. Here is a work that has grace, subtlety, hope, redemption, and a quiet strength. This is a work that is uplifting, extending a hand to suffering spirits, helping them to stand again, seeing a world filled with hope and new possibilities.

The album is comprised of ten Morrison compositions, and has a running time of just under 39 minutes. The mix is just so, and the sound quality is perfect; one can hear every note with a pristine clarity as we consume them greedily. The gentle, but firm and comforting strength that permeates this work is what reassures our spirits, allowing them to dance with joy.

Many of these compositions have become standards themselves, and through the intervening years have been performed in rock, jazz, blues, folk, and classical contexts. It is rare for a song to become timeless, and even more so for an album to become so. Sinatra’s 1954 Songs for Young Lovers, Coltrane’s A Love Supreme, Miles Davis’ Kind of Blue, and B.B. King’s Live At the Regal are just some examples that come to mind.

There are many qualities that come together to ensure that these performances work so well, and move listeners so completely. Morrison’s vocals are compelling and expressive, delivered with an sincere, light and easy hand. The musicians weave an aural web that is absolutely perfect, with no accent, no note misplaced. This is the journey of the human spirit set to music.

Moondance deserves the reputation that has followed it all these many years. Visit this old friend through a set of quality headphones, and experience the joy and promise of renewal once again.

Van Morrison

About Author

Barry Kerzner

Barry Kerzner

For as long as I can remember I have loved music, especially Blues & Jazz. Now I write and share that love of music with others. To see my photoart, visit

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