Sunday formally marked the end of winter and the beginning of spring. For many of us, it’s been the toughest winter we’ve seen since at least 2014, when the Seahawks won the Super Bowl and Macklemore won Best New Artist and we realized that Seattle people had become just as insufferable as Bay Area people. But as vaccinations continue and days keep passing without the United States president showing his entire ass to the world, the springtime themes of brightness and rebirth feel more relevant than ever.
My point is that we should lean the hell into Spring 2021. Things are getting better! Yes, they are still terrible, and they will always be pretty bad, because, you know, [gestures loosely at shitty world]. But we’ll take an improvement wherever we can get one. As the cold temperatures relent and the world blooms anew, so should our spirits. Not our physical spirits, of course, but like hard alcohol. It’s warm enough to drink outside again, and that’s a joy worth reluctantly renewing one’s hope in life.
Other than assiduously getting buzzed al fresco, there are only two ways I know of to celebrate this season. One is eating Starburst jelly beans until you are absolutely ill, and I encourage you all to do that. The other is going on a walk on the first warm day of the season, popping in your headphones, and listening to Van Morrison’s Astral Weeks in its entirety.
Why Astral Weeks? Well, I’ll tell you why. Astral Weeks is so goddamn vernal, you will have tulips growing out of your pores just from listening to it.
You see, we talk a lot about the right music for every season besides spring. The “song of the summer” has been talked about for years, even though the only right answer is any hit by Katy Perry. Taylor Swift’s folklore album immediately elicited tweets of “omg fall vibes
” by every beflanneled white girl in the lower 48. Any sparingly arranged Bon Iver song is at risk of being called a “winter classic” by people who don’t know what the real Winter Classic is. But for some reason, there’s never discussion about the right music for springtime — especially odd when you consider that Astral Weeks has been around for more than 50 years.
It’s hard to put your finger on what makes Astral Weeks the perfect springtime album, besides the fact that it just bangs regardless of season. It’s the combination of many features. It’s the references to Van Morrison’s home of Northern Ireland naturally evoking images of lush greenery. It’s the aural aesthetic of his arrangements, with his unrefined voice sailing over simply-strummed major chords, exuding brightness and warmth. It’s more than a few specific lyrics like these from “Sweet Thing”: We shall walk and talk / In gardens all misty and wet with rain / And I will never, never, never / Grow so old again.
Above all, the album boasts a sort of je ne sais quois — or in Morrison’s local parlance, some fookin’ shite — that floods the listener with feelings of hope and renewal. It samples from across the entire range of human experiences that give life the potential for contentment and meaning, even in the hardest times. It evokes memories of youthful, optimistic abandon that offer a welcome reprieve from the caution and anxiety that have burdened us for the last year.
Folks, it is categorically Astral Weeks szn. Act accordingly.