Mendelsohn: I’m completely confounded by Astral Weeks’ place on The Great List. Don’t get me wrong, I like Van Morrison, and I’m not above singing “Brown Eyed Girl” to Mrs. Mendelsohn (because she has brown eyes and she thinks it’s sweet). But Astral Weeks sounds like a couple of beatniks, a folk band, and a gaggle of hippies were involved in some freak transporter accident that left them fused together in some seething, ugly mass that still has enough dexterity to play the flute. What am I missing?
Klinger: That’s a beautiful story about you and Mrs. Mendelsohn. It gives me helpful insight into your marriage. But I have no idea where to begin as far as what you’re missing, because this is quite simply one of the finest albums of the 1960s. Achingly beautiful. I ache.
To help explain the critical acclaim for this album, it’s worth remembering that Van Morrison had previously been the pint-sized head thug for the ruffian R&B combo Them, followed by an abortive stint as a top 40 pop singer (the aforementioned “Brown Eyed Girl” era). The leap from all that to a delicate, graceful musing on romanticism is basically unprecedented. It’s as if Lost in Translation had starred Tony Danza.