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All about Van Morrison's "Moondance"

Updated on September 24, 2014
Pencil study for Dance in the Country by Pierre-Auguste Renoir, 1883.
Pencil study for Dance in the Country by Pierre-Auguste Renoir, 1883. | Source

"It's a marvelous night ..."

This is a fan page devoted to the song "Moondance" by Van Morrison.

Moondance is one of the greatest pop songs of all time. Seductive and sincerely romantic, with gorgeous music and great singing by Morrison. When you hear Moondance, you feel like you're right there, on a warm autumn night, falling in love.


YouTube video of "Moondance"

The previous Moondance video I had posted here was taken down by YouTube, but the person who posted this one has a caption thanking a bunch of corporations for allowing the song to be shared, so I'm hoping that means that this one is legal. We'll see how long it stays up.

And here's an instrumental version. - Curtis Ray Smith performs Moondance on guitar

Here's a link for the

lyrics to Moondance

Van Morrison
Van Morrison

The Credits

Words and music by Van Morrison

Recorded at A & R Studios, New York City, in 1969.

Featured musicians:

* Van Morrison - vocals, guitar

* John Klingberg - bass guitar

* Jef Labes - piano

* Gary Mallaber - drums

* John Platania - guitar

* Jack Schroer - alto saxophone

* Collin Tilton - tenor saxophone, flute

Producers - Van Morrison and Lewis Merenstein

Released on the album Moondance in 1970, Warner Brothers Records label.

Released as a single in 1977, Warner Brothers Records label.

How was it written?

Wikipedia has this quote from Brian Hinton's profile of Morrison:

"With 'Moondance' I wrote the melody first. I played the melody on a soprano sax and I knew I had a song so I wrote lyrics to go with the melody. That's the way I wrote that one."


A little musical analysis of Moondance

Moondance is in the key of A-minor.

What gives the song its feel is the chord progression that opens the song and repeats through the major part of the verse. It goes back and forth between an A-minor chord and a B-minor chord. In music theory lingo, that's a 1-chord and then a 2-chord (in the key of A, the A note is scale tone number 1, and B is scale tone number 2). This pattern is played on the piano, accompanied by bass and drums.

It struck me that this very same minor-mode, 1-chord-to-2-chord pattern is also used in another iconic song, Billie Jean by Michael Jackson. But, obviously, the two songs get very different emotional effects from the same progression. Jackson uses it with a stark beat and a lot of echo to give it an eerie feeling, while Morrison's warm acoustic instrumentation and swingy 6/8 beat make it feel comfortable and sexy.

The main melody stays in the natural minor scale, with a gentle flowing line that feels like a spontaneous, natural expression. A little more musical tension builds at the end of the verses, leading into a more boisterous feeling in the chorus before returning to the main groove.

The easy melody, with its comfortable, syncopated rhythm is very adaptable to bending and improvising, which we hear in the great piano and saxophone solos. These are followed by Morrison's vocal "solo" where he plays around with the first verse and then just riffs his way through to the end of the song.

And I'm not the only one who thinks it's a classic!

Moondance is listed by Rolling Stone magazine as one of

the 500 greatest songs of all time.

Vote on "Moondance"!

How do you feel about the song Moondance by Van Morrison?

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Own this song!

Moondance
Moondance

Mp3 download of the song.

 
Moondance
Moondance

The entire album on CD.

 

Vote on the "Moondance" album cover!

Does the album cover for Moondance by Van Morrison remind you of a Vincent van Gogh self-portrait?

See results

"Self-Portrait14 Van Gogh" by Van Gogh - VG Gallery.

Licensed under Public domain via Wikimedia Commons

Moondance
Moondance

This is the Bobby McFerrin version, released in 2005

 

Cover versions of "Moondance"

LOTS of people have done cover versions of Moondance. There are two versions that Van Morrison mentioned he really liked, one by Bobby McFerrin and one by Grady Tate.

The Grady Tate version is not available through Amazon US, but it is at Amazon UK. Here's the link: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Moondance/dp/B001N19SSU

Perform "Moondance" yourself!

How to play Moondance on guitar - Abazarko lays it out very nicely

This instructional video is in two parts

How do you feel about this song? When did you first hear it? Have you ever performed it? Danced to it? Made out to it?

Your turn to talk!

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    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      Lovely complete lens about moondance. Fantabulous!

    • gilwilson profile image

      gilwilson 5 years ago

      I'm doing an artist spotlight today on Van Morrison and came across your lens..thanks! gave me some stuff to talk about on the air.

    • Rankography profile image

      Rankography 5 years ago

      I also love "Dweller on the Threshold", "Bright Side of the Road" and "Wonderful Remark".

    • puerdycat lm profile image

      puerdycat lm 6 years ago

      I love Van Morrison! ever since I heard "Brown Eyed Girl" while I lived in Hawaii. Thanks for a lovely visit.

    • MargoPArrowsmith profile image

      MargoPArrowsmith 6 years ago

      This is one of those, "out down whatever you are doing" songs! I love it.

    • Linda Pogue profile image

      Linda Pogue 6 years ago from Missouri

      I haven't thought about Moondance for years. Thanks for the remembrance!

    • QuestForHozro profile image

      QuestForHozro 6 years ago

      I'm a big Van fan myself, so yeah I love this lens!!

    • TonyPayne profile image

      Tony Payne 6 years ago from Southampton, UK

      Nice tribute lens to a great song.

    • greenspirit profile image

      poppy mercer 6 years ago from London

      Hi Joan,

      Ahh, Van Morrisson...Moondance is great but my most favourite song of all is Redwood Tree from the album St. Dominic's Preview...actually it's got a bit of gospel about it maybe?.

    • profile image

      kimmanleyort 6 years ago

      Also one of my favorite songs and Van Morrison - another genius. I loved reading your analysis of the song. Thanks also for visiting and blessing my Bobby Darin lens!

    • Amy Fricano profile image

      Amy Fricano 6 years ago from WNY

      Since Van released the song, I guess all of the above except made out!

    • indigoj profile image

      Indigo Janson 6 years ago from UK

      I've heard this song so many times and knew nothing about its origins. It was interesting to learn more and I enjoyed your musical analysis of the song.

    • Home Interior D profile image

      Home Interior D 6 years ago

      I love this song and rate it in my top 10 favourites of all time. Great lens and very interesting.

    • PromptWriter profile image

      Moe Wood 6 years ago from Eastern Ontario

      Someone posted Van singing Moondance in April. Here's the link --> http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I-kLeQkJRxU

      My favorite rendition is the one by Michael Buble.

    • joanhall profile image
      Author

      Joan Hall 6 years ago from Los Angeles

      @PromptWriter: Oh, thank you so much! I just looked at it and I will add it to the lens immediately.

    • joanhall profile image
      Author

      Joan Hall 7 years ago from Los Angeles

      @anonymous: I'm not really sure. I get the feeling that some artists are more protective over their work than others, but I don't know any specifics.

      Glad you enjoyed the page.

    • profile image

      anonymous 7 years ago

      "This is where I wanted to put a YouTube link "...I've been searching for days for a live performance of Moondance by Van...you haven't found one either. Any idea why none seems to exist? Thanks for any help, Joan. Great site.

    • sheriangell profile image

      sheriangell 7 years ago

      Oh I love Moondance and just about everything I've ever heard from Van Morrison. I used to have a lot of his music back in the day....albums, eight tracks, cassettes. I'm not sure why I don't have anything by him now on CD, but I know I need to change that.

    • FlynntheCat1 profile image

      FlynntheCat1 7 years ago

      Heh, this came up in some forum somewhere and I had a look on YouTube last week - all the originals get taken down very fast but there are a handful of good covers.

    • verymary profile image

      Mary 7 years ago from Chicago area

      go Van! I used to hold son #1 as an infant & dance with him to Tupelo Honey...but Moondance is just as sweet <3

    • KimGiancaterino profile image

      KimGiancaterino 7 years ago

      It's a great song! Blessed by a Squid Angel.

    • religions7 profile image

      religions7 7 years ago

      Great lens, blessed by a squidangel :)

    • PromptWriter profile image

      Moe Wood 7 years ago from Eastern Ontario

      I actually like the Michael Buble rendition of Moondance.

      Congratulations on your Giant Squid status!

    • RhondaAlbom profile image

      Rhonda Albom 7 years ago from New Zealand

      I love this song also. Too bad its not on youtube, but it will be in my head all day now!

      Thanks

    • profile image

      anonymous 7 years ago

      Moondance is truly beautiful song. I love Van Morrison soft, direct,sexy, lyrics combined with his jazzy melody. To me, the song's is like combining some old Celtic, tourbadour love song, mixed with something Frank Sinatra or Nat King Cole would sing In fact, the entire "Moondance" cd is fantastic, and I really think it show Morrison's artistic genius, far better than "Brown-Eyed Girl" ever did.

    • KOrazem profile image

      Seeking Pearls 7 years ago from Pueblo West

      I love this song and enjoyed reading this lens. Great Job!

    • profile image

      anonymous 7 years ago

      I love this song and Van Morrison. Great job!

    • RustyM62 profile image

      RustyM62 7 years ago

      I really like this it's a classic no doubt.

    • profile image

      GrowWear 7 years ago

      I love this song! Love Van Morrison. Have maybe danced to it a time or two, have never performed it -- no one wants to hear me caterwa, er, sing.

    • mbgphoto profile image

      Mary Beth Granger 7 years ago from O'Fallon, Missouri, USA

      Loved reading the words to the song. Thanks for sharing! 5*

    • Sylvestermouse profile image

      Cynthia Sylvestermouse 7 years ago from United States

      Oh, man, talk about taking me back in time! What a shame there is not a you tube video. Thanks for the walk down memory lane.

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