This week’s theme might, as week might as well be moon, since yesterday I reflected upon Neil Young’s “Harvest Moon”, and today I’m going to take a deeper look at Van Morrison’s “Moondance”.
A friend of mine commented on yesterday’s post that “Harvest Moon” was a classic; on it’s way to becoming a standard. I don’t entirely disagree, but I feel that “Moondance” has already been a standard – and with the exception of “Brown Eyed Girl” – the song that is most associated with Van Morrison.
Morrison’s music has sometimes been described as “Celtic Soul” – and “Moodance” is probably the epitome of that description. The music swings and sways like jazz. Morrison croons, but the flute that plays underneath him gives the song a Celtic feel – linking the song musically with the lyrics. There’s no other song like – and it’s almost like it doesn’t quite belong in this world. And yet, just as Morrison takes his love to the forest “Neath the cover of the October skies” – it feels entirely familiar.
Like “Harvest Moon”, the lyrics of “Moondance” centers on autumn. For Morrison, autumn is a magical time – “and all the night’s magic seems to whisper and hush”. The “leaves on the trees are falling to the sounds of breezes that blow”. If Neil Young was interested in taking his companion out into the countryside to get away from the world, Morrison is taking his love into another world.
At the beginning of the song, Morrison is full on romantic. The drums and the piano slide in as Morrison hooks the listener in: “Well it’s a marvelous night for a Moondance, with the stars up above your eyes, fantabulous night for a romance.” It would be hard to resist lines like that. By the time Morrison arrives at the second chorus, his love has given into his romantic gestures. Most of “Moondance” is romantic and full of sincerity, but when Morrison tells his love that she trembles every time he touches her, there’s almost a hint of sexual menace in the delivery. But the listener has no time to consider, because after the chorus there’s an extended jam, and then Morrison goes on full scat at the end of the song before delivering the final “my love” as the music ends abruptly.