Thursday, May 9, 2013

All missives went unanswered

I messaged Sarah St. Catherine in an effort to gather meditations and musings regarding the unique approach she took in covering Van Morrison's "Astral Weeks." However, all missives went unanswered. I don't take it personally; she's not the first, nor will she be the last.

What I was able to puzzle out on my own: St. Catherine's rendition of Astral Weeks' opener is like a slow-moving, misty dream; illusion and beauty coalesce into a singular moment that lingers long after rousing. Where Morrison applies urgency and spontaneity, St. Catherine chooses perfection and precision. Every note—whether from a bass or a mandolin or a pedal steel guitar—is wholly perfect.

On the original, Morrison's vocals betray a fresh blankness; he has emptied his heart of all feeling. "There you go!" he emphatically sings on four occasions, a message to the listener that he has reached the boundaries of personal expression and that all verdicts are left to the listener. St. Catherine's cover is her verdict, a declaration that there's something gorgeous and purifying to being all hollowed out, that when one is finally emotionally empty they have officially taken the first stride on the path to being filled up once more. It's a statement that even the most tensely coiled original song can be pulled taut and straight by another artist.

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