Sunday, March 23, 2014

Cold, wet cloths

Long, long before they were garbed in harpsichord and vibraphone and strings, and burst with a grandiosity unprecedented in the rock era, the songs on Astral Weeks were uncomplicated affairs, rough-hewn sketches, midnight bedroom musings accented by basic chords strummed softly on an acoustic guitar. What I absolutely adore about Glen Hansard's Astral Weeks covers (besides their frightening intensity; I have to lie down and place a cold, wet cloth on my forehead after hearing them) is how he whisks us back to the album's clean, simple origins, how he reminds us that the album's spine is, and always will be, Van Morrison's vocals and guitar playing. Hearing Hansard perform a stripped-bare and scuffed-up version of "Astral Weeks" ... I shake my head and sigh. Surely this is what the song sounded like in its primitive, early form.

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