Sugar-baby with your champagne eyes

Dear friends,

Because I am ridiculous, I found myself getting teary eyed on the F train. I was listening to Sweet Thing by Van Morrison and while I wish I could say that this was a random occurrence, a combination of circumstance and song, it wasn't. This song has been affecting me since I was twelve years old. Of course, I didn't really know what the hell it was about then except that it was clearly about some kind of ECSTATIC MOMENT and that the way the song builds and builds, taking its time to introduce each little flurry of instrumentation, endlessly repeating, it was as if the song was meant to conjure something. I thought that Van Morrison was trying to magically create a moment, visualizing a perfect place, a perfect feeling and that the line about how he will never, ever grow so old again meant that that place was heaven. And that, by the end, with the flute and strings going full throttle, he succeeded, that this place now exists. He could be singing in a dank basement bedroom but in his head this wondrous place is alive and threatening to spill out.

Of course, years later, I feel differently. It seems clearer than anything that this is a song about someone letting go and allowing themselves to experience joy for the first time*. It's still rich as anything in imagery and color, still magical, but the words "I will be satisfied not to read between the lines" stick out to me. How amazing and simple. Of all the things I ever envisioned for myself romantically when I was a teenager, I don't think that finding someone who could make me stop calibrating situations was high on the list. But listening to that line, sandwiched between sleepy strangers on their way to work, I thought wow, yes. Wonderful! We shall walk and talk in gardens all misty wet with rain. I think I might have sang it out loud. I don't really care if I did.

Sweet Thing/Van Morrison (mp3)

You don't need to read anything about Van Morrison to know that maybe he's not a cuddly teddy bear type of guy. His gaze in photographs where he's not singing is typically a scowl. Not so much defiant as downright disagreeable. He's a puzzling creature. Completely singular and wild.

Purchase Astral Weeks by Van Morrison.

Love, D

* Yes, joy in the form of another but here the joy is just as much the titular sweet thing as the girl.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

A girl made a 2-CD mix for me to listen to on my 12-hour solo drive to a new home and away from the only place I'd known for 23 years.
She was the reason I had to leave.
Sweet Thing was the last track on the 2nd CD.
After it was over, I knew I'd never be able to listen to that song again...but I remember it being absolutely beautiful....
Enough for me to stop by this random post and leave this comment

1:54 PM, November 06, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

one day in the California fall of 2003 I really liked a boy. we would spend hours just kissing until both our lips were raw and aching. this day I went to his house and we made dinner together. i dont quite remember what we made, but i remember it was simple and involved boiling water. we ate on the floor of his living room. he had just bought a record player and we started the astral weeks record as we finished eating and started making out. sweet thing. i have never had a more intense musical romantic moment. while things between us pretty much evaporated after that night, the moment of listening to sweet thing while kissing him lives on in perfectness. i can never decide if i want to introduce a new lover to it or just keep it wrapped up in an amber jewelled moment just the way it is. mostly i just like to listen to it by myself in my car on cold or rainy days.

2:30 PM, November 06, 2007  
Blogger Stefan said...

Sweet Thing is one of the most gorgeous tracks in music history. Like you, it's reduced me to tears. My favorite track on the album, however, is Beside You. So beautiful hurts. I wonder who "little Jimmy" is, but whoever it is, he's immortalized in one of the most heartbreaking songs I ever heard. Pure emotion set to music.

2:31 PM, November 06, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I feel the same way that you do... this song has been affecting me for years and it just doesn't seem to stop. It never seems to get old... it's almost like I hear something new in the instrumentation or in his voice every single time I listen to it.

3:53 AM, November 08, 2007  
Anonymous Jeff K said...

I don't really like it, am I dead inside? I feel the way you all describe about Dusty in Memphis though, if that helps you decide...

10:18 PM, November 10, 2007  
Blogger d said...

I don't see you as a Van person. He seems a little too bluesy/crunchy/slurry for ya. Perhaps that's it?

10:37 AM, November 12, 2007  
Blogger Pat said...

Thats a great piece of writing about Sweet Thing.Thanks a lot.Van Morrison is my favourite singer.I have written lots of stuff about him on my blog page.


It would be great if you read some of it.Anyway, have a nice Sunday.

Cheers, Pat.

5:55 AM, December 09, 2007  

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