Into The Mystic (as made famous by Van Morrison)

“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” 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]

Van Morrison – vocals, guitar, tambourine
John Klingberg – bass guitar
Jeff Labes – piano
Gary Mallaber – drums
John Platania – guitar
Jack Schroer – alto saxophone
Collin Tilton – tenor saxophone