Sugar-baby with your champagne eyes
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.
* Yes, joy in the form of another but here the joy is just as much the titular sweet thing as the girl.