Sunday, October 25, 2015

A first step

No future can be charted without a starting point. For Van Morrison, it was a song recorded in the spring of 1967. It was done in just two takes; even so, upon completion, the artist—the exile—abruptly collapsed in on himself. "He was just torn apart," said the session's sound engineer. "He was sitting on the floor in a heap like a wrung-out dishcloth, completely spent emotionally."

The song is a labyrinthine journey into the heart of what moves us, what sustains us, what remains with us, and, perhaps most crucial of all, what dies with us. There's an unparalleled desperation, a need to convey these feelings and emotions before they lose their purity and vitality, before they fade like a photograph left out in the sun. At nearly 10 minutes in length, the song conflates old genres and births new ones: Belfast Blues, Ginger-Haired Soul, Deathbed Folk. "T.B. Sheets" is the first step on the tangled path to Astral Weeks.

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