Thursday, April 24, 2014

And we don't care about the young folks

Of the many astonishing aspects of the Astral Weeks creation story, the one I find to be the most stunning (and thoroughly humbling) is this: when Van Morrison trotted into Century Sound Studios for the album's first recording session, he wasn't even a month past his 23rd birthday. Consider the mindset of the average early-twenty-something, an individual freshly removed from settings in which standards of responsibility and accountability are largely and obnoxiously absent. (Beautifully illustrated here.)

How does a newly-minted 23-year-old become so ruthlessly committed to a particular artistic vision? Where does an individual of such physical and emotional immaturity acquire a voice of such titanic fervor? When has someone so inexperienced drawn from such a deep well of experience? Or better yet, when has someone so young ever sounded so adult?

At 23, Morrison already understood that it's possible for one to grow old while also preserving childlike senses of delight and wonder. To the person who just exited teenagerdom, adulthood is something that's inevitable and grotesque; for Morrison, it was already wildly edifying. Some take lifetimes to arrive at such realizations. Others, I suppose, never do.

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