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A Dream of a Band

I had this wild dream where I was seeing this unbelievable band with Van Morrison singing and Carlos Santana and George Benson on guitars and Dr. John on keyboards and Tom Scott blowin' saxophone and Etta James scat singing jazz lines and ...

Wait — holy shit — it wasn't a dream!!!

Since that seems to be the case — let's roll ourselves a doob and go for a little moon dance.

Which reminds me of a funny story.  The Midnight Special had been on the air about five years at this point and had built up some cred, so a couple of the producers flew to San Francisco to try to land some real giants — the Grateful Dead and Van Morrison!  First they drove to Garcia's house in the mountains of Marin, and Jerry goes, "Television? Let me explain something to you.  We're the Grateful Dead.  We don't do TV.  You can film us in concert, though, anytime you want.  But hey, you seem like cool guys, why don't we smoke a doob."

So, they puff this magic dragon and get just ripped, and then have to go to Van's house nearby, and by the time they get there they're still so stoned they're laughing their heads off and one of them's gone nearly deaf from the wicked northern Cali bud.  But Van laughs along with them knowing the joint these unsuspecting tourists just visited, and somehow in the comical grand vibe of it, they're able to convince the Irish hermit to do it if they can promise him a killer band.  So they pull in George Benson and his boys and the rest is some super sonic history.

I know the video image is as wavy as a good stone, but this is prolly from a VHS tape from the '70s — just be happy you can experience this long lost treasure!

Dig the good Doctor riffin' in right away with the piano accents.  He had just produced Van's latest album, "A Period Of Transition," after the two had hooked up at The Last Waltz the year before. 

And Van's fellow San Francisco Giant, Carlos Santana, is the first to step up for a solo in a song that blends jazz stylings with a classic rock structure before there was a word for it. 

Then the jazz bandleader, George Benson, takes over and solos on both guitar and an accompanying scat vocal line.

Then we go for a little ride on the gumbo ferry as Dr. John takes us way down south to New Orleans and makes the moon dance off the melting Mississippi.

And next we round back into the groove of the original recording as a soprano sax dances in thanks to the top session horn player of the decade, Mr. Tom Scott.

And don't Tell Mama, but this leads right into a bebop scat vocal by none other than the jazzy living legend Etta James who poo-poos poetry for the power of pure passion.

And after about a week of touring the sounds of America we circle back to the bard who leads us out to the open fields to dance beneath the diamond sky with one hand waving free.  Listen how he brings the song home and shows why he can be a whole damn orchestra by himself.  And dig in that final climax the tiny sequential accents by George then Tom then the Doctor!  And don't miss The Man's tone on his very last note!

Maybe it was all a dream?!

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Retrieved from Wikipedia:
Moondance on Wikipedia
"Moondance"
Van Morrison single Moondance.jpg
Single by Van Morrison
from the album Moondance
A-side"Moondance"
B-side"Cold Wind in August"
Released1970 (album)
1977 (single)
RecordedA & R Studios, August 1969
GenreSoft rock, smooth jazz
Length4:35
LabelWarner Bros.
Writer(s)Van Morrison
Producer(s)Van Morrison and Lewis Merenstein
Van Morrison singles chronology

"Moondance" is a popular song written by Northern Irish singer-songwriter Van Morrison and is the title song on his 1970 album Moondance.

Morrison did not release the song as a single until November 1977, seven and a half years after the album was released. It reached the Billboard Hot 100, charting at #92.[1] The single's B-side, "Cold Wind in August", had been released in the same year, on his latest album at the time, A Period of Transition.

"Moondance" is the song that is most frequently played by Van Morrison in concert.[2]

Contents

  • 1 Composition and recording
  • 2 Other releases
  • 3 Critical response
  • 4 In popular culture
  • 5 Personnel
  • 6 Covers
  • 7 Notes
  • 8 References
  • 9 External links

Composition and recording

"Moondance" was recorded at the Mastertone Studio in New York City in August 1969, with Lewis Merenstein as producer.[3]

The song is played mostly acoustic, anchored by a walking bass line (played on electric bass by John Klingberg), with accompaniment by piano, guitar, saxophones, and flute with the instruments played with a soft jazz swing. It's a song about autumn, the composer's favorite season. Towards the end of the song, Morrison imitates a saxophone. The song also features a piano solo, played by Jeff Labes, which is immediately followed by an alto saxophone solo by Jack Schroer. The song ends with a trill on the Flute during the cadenza that fades out. Schroer's solo is often noted as one of the most influential saxophone solos in popular music. The scale used in Schroer's "Moondance" solo is Aeolian A (A, B, C, D, E, F, G) or could simply be considered as a C major scale and is played primarily over a D minor to A minor vamp that resolves via a sharp V (♯5 = F7) to natural V (5 = E7♯9) dominant chord.

Music journalist Erik Hage wrote that the significance of the song "lies in its direct jazz approach", expanding that observation with "Astral Weeks had suggestions of jazz, but this song would take the genre head on. It would become Van Morrison's most successful and definitive jazz composition."[4]

Morrison commented on writing the song: "With 'Moondance' I wrote the melody first. I played the melody on a soprano sax and I knew I had a song so I wrote lyrics to go with the melody. That's the way I wrote that one. I don't really have any words to particularly describe the song, sophisticated is probably the word I'm looking for. For me, 'Moondance' is a sophisticated song. Frank Sinatra wouldn't be out of place singing that."[5]

Other releases

"Moondance" as originally recorded on the album Moondance is one of the songs on the compilation album, The Best of Van Morrison, released in 1990 and also on the compilation album Still on Top - The Greatest Hits, released in 2007. Several live performances have been released by Morrison on albums over the years.

A medley with "My Funny Valentine" appears on the 1994 live double album A Night in San Francisco, a live be-bop influenced version of the song is on the 1996 album How Long Has This Been Going On, and is performed with Georgie Fame at the Ronnie Scott's Jazz Club. An edit of said version is also included on the 2007 compilation album The Best of Van Morrison Volume 3. Another live version appears on the 2006 limited edition CD Live at Austin City Limits Festival. A previously unreleased live recording of "Moondance", recorded at the Greek Theater in 1986, with a recreation of The Caledonia Soul Orchestra is included on the 2007 compilation album, Van Morrison at the Movies - Soundtrack Hits.

"Moondance" was one of the songs performed on Morrison's first video Van Morrison in Ireland, released in 1981, and it also was performed as a medley with "Fever" for Morrison's second video Van Morrison The Concert, released in 1990. Morrison also released a live version of "Moondance" as the 10th song performed on the 1980 disc of Morrison's DVD released in 2006, Live At Montreux 1980/1974.

Critical response

The Allmusic reviewer describes "Moondance" as "one of those rare songs that manages to implant itself on the collective consciousness of popular music, passing into the hallowed territory of a standard, a classic."[6]

Biographer John Collis praised the song for being more commercially accessible for most radio stations than a lot of his earlier work. He calls "Moondance" "an important song in the development of Morrison's career, since it indicated to radio station programmers a previously unsuspected versatility. Stations that would never have considered playing, say 'Slim Slow Slider' found that the smooth, jazzy sophistication of 'Moondance' was more to their taste."[7]

"Moondance" was listed as #226 in Rolling Stone magazine's December 2004 feature "The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time".[8] It is also one of The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame's 500 Songs that Shaped Rock and Roll.[9]

In popular culture

"Moondance" is one of the moon-themed songs used in An American Werewolf in London, a comedy-horror film released in 1981.[10] It is heard during the sex scene between David Naughton (as David, the young man bitten by a werewolf) and Jenny Agutter (as Alex, his nurse and eventual girlfriend).

The song also plays a role in the 2007 movie August Rush, in which it is sung by Louis (Jonathan Rhys Meyers)[11] and played by Wizard (Robin Williams) on the harmonica. The soundtrack also features an instrumental version of the song by Chris Botti.[11][12]

"Moondance" is one of the songs featured on the compilation album Michael Parkinson: My Life In Music, which is a 2-disc CD of Michael Parkinson's favorite songs.[13]

Actor George Clooney included the song as one of his eight Desert Island Discs on BBC Radio 4 on 23 February 2003.[14] Space scientist Maggie Aderin-Pocock also included the song as one of her Desert Island Discs on 7 March 2010.[15]

The song is played in the UK sitcom Peep Show (episode "Big Mad Andy"), as Stephanie sets a romantic mood after her dinner with Mark.

The song is featured in the penultimate episode of the third season of the NBC series The West Wing, "We Killed Yamamoto," which originally aired on 15 May 2002. The song is playing on character Amy Gardner's home stereo during a visit from her boyfriend, White House Deputy Chief of Staff Josh Lyman. Another Van Morrison song, "Caravan," appears in the same episode.

Personnel

  • Van Morrison - vocals, guitar
  • John Klingberg - bass guitar
  • Jeff Labes - piano
  • Gary Mallaber - drums
  • John Platania - guitar
  • Jack Schroer - alto saxophone
  • Collin Tilton - tenor saxophone, flute

Covers

There have been many recorded versions of the song and it is also a very popularly performed instrumental band song. "Moondance" is the opening tune on I Feel You, the 2011 album released by Herb Alpert and Lani Hall.[16] Covers by Jonathan Rhys Meyers and Chris Botti were featured on the 2007 movie August Rush.[11] Michael Bublé released a cover on his self-titled album in 2003.[17] Ramsey Lewis and Nancy Wilson covered "Moondance" on the 2002 album Meant to Be.[18] Other covers by notable musicians and entertainers include: Greg Brown,[19] Georgie Fame,[20] Kathie Lee Gifford,[21] Ute Lemper[22] and Will Martin.[23]

Van Morrison on cover versions of the song:

"Quite a number of people have recorded 'Moondance'. There are some great versions including Bobby McFerrin's. I also like a version of 'Moondance' that was done by Grady Tate years ago."

Notes

  1. ^ "Van Morrison: Billboard Singles". allmusic.com. Retrieved 2009-10-12. 
  2. ^ Becker, Gunter (14 April 2017). "The most played songs". ivan.vanomatic.de. Retrieved 4 May 2017. 
  3. ^ Heylin, Can You Feel the Silence?, p. 519
  4. ^ Hage, The Words and Music of Van Morrison, p. 50
  5. ^ Hinton, Celtic Crossroads, pp.106-107
  6. ^ "Moondance-Van Morrison". allmusic.com. Retrieved 2009-10-11. 
  7. ^ Collis, Inarticulate Speech of the Heart, p.118
  8. ^ "The Rolling Stone 500 Greatest Songs of All Time". rocklistmusic.co.uk. 2004-12-09. Retrieved 2010-05-22. 
  9. ^ "The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame's 500 Songs that Shaped Rock and Roll". listsofbests.com. Retrieved 2010-11-08. 
  10. ^ "An American Werewolf in London Music Soundtrack". fast-rewind.com. Retrieved 2009-10-11. 
  11. ^ a b c "August Rush-music from the motion picture". starpulse.com. Retrieved 2009-10-07. 
  12. ^ "Robin Williams-Fascinating Fact 4357". contactmusic.com. 2007-11-24. Retrieved 2009-10-08. 
  13. ^ "Sir Michael Parkinson: My Life in Music". allmusic.com. Retrieved 2009-09-24. 
  14. ^ "Desert Island Discs - George Clooney". bbc.co.uk. Retrieved 2009-10-08. 
  15. ^ "Desert Island Discs - Maggie Aderin-Pocock". bbc.co.uk. Retrieved 2010-03-17. 
  16. ^ "Music Scene: Herb Alpert and Lani Hall". the-leader.com. 2011-02-13. Retrieved 2011-02-14. 
  17. ^ "Michael Bublé". vh1.com. Retrieved 2009-10-07. 
  18. ^ "Meant To Be". allabout.jazz.com. Retrieved 2009-11-20. 
  19. ^ "The Live One: Greg Brown". acousticmusic.com. Retrieved 2009-09-12. 
  20. ^ "allmusic: Georgie Fame: songs". allmusic.com. Retrieved 2009-10-07. 
  21. ^ "PIcks and Pans Main:Song". people.com. Retrieved 2009-09-13. 
  22. ^ Holden, Stephen (2005-01-17). "A shadowy realm - ill met by moonlight". nytimes.com. Retrieved 2009-09-17. 
  23. ^ "Inspirations". willmartin.co.nz. Retrieved 2010-12-10. 

References

  • Collis, John (1996). Inarticulate Speech of the Heart, Little Brown and Company, ISBN 0-306-80811-0
  • Heylin, Clinton (2003). Can You Feel the Silence? Van Morrison: A New Biography, Chicago Review Press, ISBN 1-55652-542-7
  • Hage, Erik (2009). The Words and Music of Van Morrison, Praeger Publishers, ISBN 978-0-313-35862-3
  • Hinton, Brian (1997). Celtic Crossroads: The Art of Van Morrison, Sanctuary, ISBN 1-86074-169-X

External links

  • Allmusic Moondance Review
  • Lyrics of this song at MetroLyrics
   

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