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Today’s New Favourite Best Song Ever

May 23, 2010

Astral Weeks has been on my iPod many times of late. It’s a marvel of music making. It sounds like it is being made up on the spot, played live in the studio with the windows wide and a warm spring breeze blowing the smell of the countryside through every note. I’d argue there aren’t too many of the songs that would stand up outside the album – these aren’t off-the-peg popular songs that could be easily covered by a cabaret singer – but within the ecosystem of those two sides of vinyl, they work perfectly. The musicianship is stunningly good, inventive, at times delirious, but always in the service of the song. There are millions of singers who have tried to mimic Van’s vocal style but no one gets near.

Amid a collection of songs where the groove is laid back, The Way Young Lovers Do absolutely swings. The drums are wonderful – I could listen to a whole track of them on their own. The vibes are wonderful. The bass is sensational, (I thought it was Danny Thompson, but looking it on Wikipedia, it seems I was wrong – it was Richard Davis). And the brass is delicious, acting as stunning punctuation to the vocal. There’s a tension in the verses that comes flooding out in the middle eights. Superb.

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