Posted by: carolyn / through a widow's eyes | September 2, 2011

(If I Venture) In the Slipstream

Spent the day listening to Van Morrison’s Astral Weeks over and over. (The way young lovers do, eh?)

Astral Weeks was the first album Jeff gave me – a cassette, that’s how long ago it was: 1985, in the exhilarating early days of our fresh new love that had distilled and deepened so slowly and richly from long and easy friendship.

I was unfamiliar with the music at the time, didn’t know it is often listed as one of the best records of all time, didn’t know people spoke of it in hushed reverent tones, deciphered its texts.

“You can hear these moments of invention and gasping for air, and you reach your hand and close your fist and when you open your fist there’s a butterfly in it. There was really something there, but you couldn’t have seen it. You couldn’t have known.” 

 [-Greil Marcus, Rolling Stone’s first rock critic  (



“It sounded like the man who made Astral Weeks was in terrible pain, pain most of Van Morrison’s previous works had only suggested; but like the later albums by The Velvet Underground, there was a redemptive element in the blackness, ultimate compassion for the suffering of others, and a swath of pure beauty and mystical awe that cut right through the heart of the work.” 

[- ,]


“It made me realize that so much of what makes music great is courage, and up to that, what I thought made music great was practice and study…This album says there’s more to life than you thought. Life can be lived more deeply, with a greater sense of fear and horror and desire than you ever imagined.”

[-Glen Hansard of The Frames]


And Astral Weeks was the last album I gave to him, in late winter 2009. I was washing dishes one Sunday afternoon when a story, review, and songs came on Public Radio: Van the Man’s recording of a new live jazz version of Astral Weeks Live at the Hollywood Bowl,  all those deceptively simple, heartbreakingly beautiful songs meditatively expanded from 46 minutes to 68.

My first thought was that it would be the perfect anniversary gift for Jeff. My second thought was that I’d better get it now and give it to him right away because he might not live long enough to see our wedding anniversary in May.

“I know you’re dying, baby/

 and I know, you know it too.” 

So I did. We listened to it many times that spring.

But it was ridiculous of me to jump to that conclusion. Sheesh.

It’s a bird! It’s a plane! It’s Worst Case Scenario Girl!

He lived sixty five more days past our anniversary.

Hold them close, people. Hold them tighter than necessary.



  1. hearts full of soul
    thank you carrie
    it’s onlly a moment we have here


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