10 Things You Didn't Know About Van Morrison's 'Astral Weeks'

source: npr

The story behind Astral Weeks, Van Morrison’s landmark jazz-pop album, is fraught with bad decisions, angry record executives, and the mafia. The short version of the story is that Morrison didn’t want to work with his then-current label, so to get out of his contract he recorded an album full of unreleasable nonsense songs. He also had to buy that contract back from mobsters for $20,000 in order to he make the jump to Warner Bros.

Free from his former contractual obligations he recorded the album with a bunch of jazz musicians without telling them what to play. According to everyone who ever worked on the album, Morrison never introduced himself and just told them to play whatever they felt like playing. Unlike the musicians of Laurel Canyon, Morrison's experience with "Astral Weeks" was incredibly solipsistic.