Saturday, March 5, 2011

"Beside You," Astral Weeks, Van Morrison

"Beside You" is not the track to pick to introduce anyone to Van Morrison or to Astral Weeks, even though because it captures the album's raw core. It's oddly paced, incomplete, with hitches and starts and sometimes mumbled, often incomprehensible lyrics, and throughout there's this sense that he's got more to put into the song than it can hold.

And right after that collapsing end come the clean, optimistic chords of "Sweet Thing," and that happy bass line, and the--what, chimes?--and then Van Mo sings something about "a merry way" and jumping hedges and drinking "the clear, clean water for to quench my thirst" and then something maybe about getting high.

The album ends in gut-wrenching fashion. "I know you're dyin', baby, and I know you know it too... I know you're dyin', and I know you know it too. Every time I see you, I just don't know what to do," he sings, and that last note and last line are anything but a final note or final line to anything, and you know the song, the album can't be over, because he's just started that damn song, and it's barely gotten off the ground, and he's probably got three more minutes to unpack it.

But then this mess of sounds lunges in, and that's it.