Into the Mystic

"Into the Mystic" is a song written by Northern Irish singer-songwriter Van Morrison and featured on his 1970 album Moondance. It was also included on Morrison's 1974 live album, It's Too Late To Stop Now.

"Into the Mystic"
Song by Van Morrison
from the album Moondance
ReleasedFebruary 1970
RecordedSeptember–November 1969, at the A&R Recording Studios, New York City
GenreR&B, folk rock, soul jazz
LabelWarner Bros. Records
Songwriter(s)Van Morrison
Producer(s)Van Morrison and Lewis Merenstein
Moondance track listing

Recording and composition

"Into the Mystic" was recorded during the Moondance sessions at A&R Recording Studios in New York City in September to November 1969. Elliott Scheiner was the engineer.[1]

The lyrics are about a spiritual quest, typical of Morrison's work. "Bass thrums like a boat in motion, and the song comes back to water as a means of magical transformation."[2] "At the very end Van sings: too late to stop now, suggesting that the song also describes an act of love." (This phrase would become a key point of many live concerts.)[3] Compared to "Yesterday" by The Beatles, it has been described as "another song where the music and the words seem to have been born together, at the same time, to make one perfectly formed, complete artistic element.“[4]

Morrison remarked on the song and how its use of homophones lent it alternate meanings:

"'Into the Mystic' is another one like 'Madame Joy' and 'Brown Eyed Girl'. Originally I wrote it as 'Into the Misty'. But later I thought that it had something of an ethereal feeling to it so I called it 'Into the Mystic'. That song is kind of funny because when it came time to send the lyrics in WB Music, I couldn't figure out what to send them. Because really the song has two sets of lyrics. For example, there's 'I was born before the wind' and 'I was borne before the wind', and also 'Also younger than the son, Ere the bonny boat was one' and 'All so younger than the son, Ere the bonny boat was won' ... I guess the song is just about being part of the universe."[2]


A Rolling Stone review by Greil Marcus and Lester Bangs described the song's importance on the album as: "'Into the Mystic' is the heart of Moondance; the music unfolds with a classic sense of timing, guitar strums fading into watery notes on a piano, the bass counting off the pace. The lines of the song and Morrison's delivery of them are gorgeous: 'I want to rock your gypsy soul/Just like in the days of old/And magnificently we will fold/Into the mystic.'[5] The Moondance Allmusic review described it as "a song of such elemental beauty and grace as to stand as arguably the quintessential Morrison moment."[6]


"Into the Mystic" is No. 474 on the list of Rolling Stone magazine's 2010 feature, The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time,[7] and was listed as No. 42 on The 885 Essential XPN Songs compiled in 2008 by WXPN from listener's votes.[8]

According to a BBC survey, because of this song’s cooling, soothing vibe, this is one of the most popular songs for surgeons to listen to while performing operations.[9] Singer-songwriter Elvis Costello has identified this song as one of his favourite songs on Moondance, one of his 500 essential albums.[10]

Alternate mix

On the original 1970 pressings of the Moondance LP, "Into the Mystic" is presented in a mix done on December 10, 1969, featuring a prominent tambourine throughout the song. Later LP pressings, and all CD reissues of the album prior to 2008, contain an alternate mix of the song done on January 5, 1970, lacking the tambourine and with a more muted foghorn sound.[11] The original tambourine mix of the song made its CD debut in a 2008 Japanese Moondance remaster, and was also restored for a vinyl reissue of the album on Rhino Records later that year. The 2013 remaster of the Moondance album also features the tambourine mix.

Other releases

A live version was included on the 1974 double live album It's Too Late to Stop Now, with the same live version included on the 2007 compilation album, Van Morrison at the Movies - Soundtrack Hits. An instrumental version of the song is played in a medley with "Inarticulate Speech of the Heart" on the 1984 live album Live at the Grand Opera House Belfast. The original version is one of the songs included in the 2007 compilation album, Still on Top - The Greatest Hits (UK edition only).

In the media

"Into the Mystic" has featured in several movies beginning in 1971 with Sweets McGee and two movies in 1989: Dream a Little Dream and Immediate Family.[12] It was one of the songs played in the 1998 movie Patch Adams and again in the 1999 movie Kate's Addiction. It was played as Jim and Michelle's first dance as a married couple in the 2003 movie American Wedding, along with a cover version of the song by The Wallflowers.[12] The song can also be heard on the soundtrack of the HBO television show The Newsroom in the 2013 Season 2 premiere.


"Into the Mystic" has been a popularly performed cover song over the years and has been recorded by many well-known musicians. Some of the artists performing it are Paul Carrack,[13] Joe Cocker,[13] Glen Hansard & Markéta Irglová (The Swell Season) on the Once (Collector's Edition of Original Soundtrack),[14] The Dead,[13] Jackson Hawke,[15] Colin James,[13] Ben E. King,[13] Michael McDonald,[16] The Allman Brothers Band,[17] Zac Brown Band,[18] Marc Cohn,[19] Paco Estrada, The Wallflowers,[13] and Jason Isbell.[20] The Mike McClure Band covers the song on their 2005 album, Camelot Falling.[13] Johnny Rivers covered the song on his album Slim Slo Slider.[13] And Esther Phillips from her 1977 album "You've Come A Long Way, Baby"



  1. Heylin, Can You Feel the Silence?, p. 519
  2. Hinton, Celtic Crossroads p108
  3. HInton, Celtic Crossroads p109
  4. Elias, Jean-Claude (2010-01-24). "Van Morrison's undying Moondance inspires". Retrieved 2010-02-10.
  5. Marcus, Greil; Bangs, Lester (1970-03-17). "Moondance:Van Morrison". Retrieved 2010-11-08.
  6. Ankeny, Jason. "allmusic review". Retrieved 2010-03-02.
  7. "Rolling Stone 500 Greatest Songs List (Updated 2010)". Archived from the original on 2011-07-16. Retrieved 2010-11-08.
  8. "The 885 Essential XPN Songs". Retrieved 2010-11-08.
  9. Into the Mystic Songfacts
  10. Costello, Elvis (2000-11-01). "COSTELLO'S 500". Retrieved 2008-12-07.
  12. Van Morrison IMdB
  13. "Grateful Dead Family Discography: Into the Mystic". Retrieved 2009-10-07.
  14. "The Swell Season - Once: Music from the Motion Picture". Retrieved 2009-10-07.
  15. "Jam! Music-Pop Encyclopedia - Jackson Hawke". Retrieved 2009-10-30.
  16. "Review of Michael McDonald - Soul Speak". Retrieved 2009-10-30.
  17. Collette, Doug (2008-08-30). "The Allman Brothers summer tour 2008". Retrieved 2010-11-08.
  18. "Zac Brown Band - Live From Bonnaroo". Archived from the original on 2009-10-22. Retrieved 2009-10-30.
  19. Caramanica, Jon, Chinen, Nate, Ratliff, Ben (2010-07-18). "Critics Choice: New CDs". The New York Times. Retrieved 2010-08-02.CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  20. "Jason Isbell & The 400 Unit - Live at Twist and Shout" - Retrieved 2013-09-05.


  • Heylin, Clinton (2003). Can You Feel the Silence? Van Morrison: A New Biography, Chicago Review Press ISBN 1-55652-542-7
  • Hinton, Brian (1997). Celtic Crossroads: The Art of Van Morrison, Sanctuary, ISBN 1-86074-169-X
This article is issued from Wikipedia. The text is licensed under Creative Commons - Attribution - Sharealike. Additional terms may apply for the media files.