November 1977: Van Morrison Gets Jazzy with "Moondance"

(Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images)
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(Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images)

Release Date: November 1977

Peak Chart Position (US): #92

"It’s a fabulous night for a moondance,” began the sweet lull of Van Morrison in his masterpiece single, “Moondance,” released a curious 7 years after it first debuted on the album of the same name, Morrison's first commercially successful solo effort that retained the deep spirituality of the preceding album Astral Weeks, but re-envisioned its stylistic entrance with classic bop-era jazz influence and British blues. The soaring success of an album sold over three million copies and immediately became an anchor on FM radio airplay. 

With his return in 1970, Morrison defied all odds with the release of this album, his first in over a year that effortlessly bridged the domestic daydreams reminiscent of the 60’s and simultaneously introduced 70’s soft jazz-rock. 

"I remember ‘Moondance’ itself was a big question mark,” recalled pianist Jeff Labes to Uncut on the song’s creative process. “It was jazzy, and didn’t seem to belong in the pack. The first time we recorded it, it came out really well, but Van thought there must be a catch.”

"So we did it about a dozen times, and ended up going back to the first one. He liked to sing live along with the track, because Sinatra did that. He loved having a first-take vocal. He was looking for the magic.” 

Morrison indulged in the romantic mysticism of the song, and perhaps it was his frequent performance of “Moondance” during his live shows as his most performed track that finally warranted the tune’s official debut as a single years after its initial release.

So dust away the cobwebs resting atop the record player, put the bath on, do something that feels just as genuine and warm as this lovely haze of a lullaby.

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