Words by Megan Forsyth
I thought very carefully about what song I wanted to write about for this guest post. I have taken a rather lengthy break from writing about music this year (whether that was intentional or unintentional, I’m not entirely sure), and in that time, despite my silence on the matter, there have still been countless new songs that have come into the world and struck a chord with me. I suppose that I just wasn’t sure about how to write about music anymore instead of simply absorbing and appreciating it (and also, writing a blog is just really ridiculously time consuming). With that said, I do miss it desperately, and so I knew that this was something that I should do—not only for myself, but for anyone who is smart enough to read Adam’s blog.
I came to the conclusion that the song I chose for this piece needed to be something that has long been a part of me—one that I have listened to on repeat for years on end and still adore as much (or perhaps even more, due to growing up) as the first time I heard it. People like to ask others what their all-time favourite song is, and a lot of people struggle to pinpoint a definite answer. It’s a massive and daunting question. How can you pick just one song out of the thousands (or maybe even millions) that have graced your ears? Ever since I was about 16 years old though, I have had an answer to that question each time.
To me, ‘Sweet Thing’ by Van Morrison is perfect in every imaginable way, and oddly enough, I have never actually written anything beyond a couple of sentences about it (although I did play it on the stereo in front of my high school English class as part of an assignment and tried my best not to openly weep, but that’s another story). Now seems as good a time as any to spit out some words on the song that makes my heart burst more than any other one in existence.
‘Sweet Thing’ is likely the most eloquent love song ever written. It feels and sounds exactly like what it’s like to be in love—or at least, the blissful honeymoon period in which you constantly feel as though you are floating on some mystical cloud, never to come down. The hopelessly romantic lyrics slay me every time and the strings that accompany this part do not hurt either:
And I shall drive my chariot
Down your streets and cry
‘Hey, it’s me, I’m dynamite
And I don’t know why’
And you shall take me strongly
In your arms again
And I will not remember
That I ever felt the pain
We shall walk and talk
In gardens all misty and wet with rain
And I will never, never, never
Grow so old again
Van sings about the feeling of being absolutely invincible in new love and suddenly moving on from any hurt experienced in the past. My favourite few lines though, quite fittingly, are:
Just to dig it all and not to wonder
That’s just fine
And I’ll be satisfied
Not to read in between the lines
It’s the idea of simply experiencing and enjoying the feelings as they come and not questioning what they may mean, or where or how things may eventually end up. I admire and connect with ‘Sweet Thing’ for its hope and naivety, something everyone has been guilty of when they are in love. That is not to suggest that it is entirely a bad thing—who wouldn’t want to feel all those wonderful, sweeping feelings and believe that they could always remain that content? At that point in love, no one wants to face the reality that it might not last or that the relationship might turn out differently than initially imagined. It’s a song to dream to.
I also wanted to include the album’s title track (another favourite of mine) in this post because although ‘Astral Weeks’ precedes ‘Sweet Thing’ in the album’s sequence, I have always thought of it as being a sort of follow-up to ‘Sweet Thing’. ‘Astral Weeks’ gracefully (albeit heartbreakingly) describes the moment after coming down from that seemingly endless high and you do start to ‘read in between the lines’. It’s when insecurities creep in and you begin to question the other person and what lengths they would be willing to go to for you. This song is lengthy and full of lyrical prowess. Verses like:
If I ventured in the slipstream
Between the viaducts of your dream
Where immobile steel rims crack
And the ditch in the back roads stop
Could you find me?
Would you kiss-a my eyes?
To lay me down
In silence easy
To be born again
The words could be compared to a questioning of vows: no matter how difficult things may get, or how far off the path you may stray, will that person still be there to pull you out of the darkness and comfort you? It’s a question that most don’t ever find out the answer to until long after they put their heart out there. And yet, after all the heartache and disappointment, we will still do it over and over again in a lifetime, all with the hope of finding and holding onto that love and romanticism described in ‘Sweet Thing’. At the end of the day, we’re all just dreamers.
Megan Forsyth is the voice behind Vancouver-based Music vs. Misery, one of my very favorite music blogs. You’d do well to go check her site out and dig back through the archives- you’re likely to find about 18 new favorite bands (no joke/hyperbole).