Astral Weeks by Ryan H. Walsh

Astral Weeks

A mind-expanding dive into a lost chapter of 1968, featuring the famous and forgotten: Van Morrison, folkie-turned-cult-leader Mel Lyman, Timothy Leary, James Brown, and many more Van Morrison's Astral Weeks is an iconic rock album shrouded in legend, a masterpiece that has touched generations of listeners and influenced everyone from Bruce Springsteen to Martin Scorsese. In his first book, acclaimed rock musician and journalist Ryan H. Walsh un...

Details Astral Weeks

TitleAstral Weeks
Release DateMar 6th, 2018
PublisherPenguin Press
GenreMusic, History, Nonfiction, Reference, Research, Biography Memoir, Culture, Pop Culture

Reviews Astral Weeks

  • Faith
    I don't know for whom this book is intended. The title is clearly designed to lure fans of Van Morrison, and the lure worked on me. However, there is actually very little about Morrison and his work in this book. Instead there is a lot of random information about people and events in Boston around the same time that Morrison was there. There are gangsters, a folk music cult, happenings, psychedelic public television, a bank robbery and LSD. I cou...
  • Christine
    I received a free copy of this book from Goodreads Giveaways. There were so many interesting stories and back stories in this book, that it either needed to be longer or to shorten its scope. The Fort Hill Community alone could have taken up the entire book, as could Van Morrison and his time in Boston. Trying to mash them together, though in time period they really were in sync, does them both a disservice. Then you throw in everything else that...
  • Whitney
    This book talked about a LOT of things I love. I did want to hear a little more about the general population and their experience of Boston in 1968 in contrast to the hippies and cult members and musicians he talks about here. The chapter on movies and the Boston strangler was my favorite because of that bigger picture stuff.
  • Matt
    My friend just wrote this one up: so did I, for The Baffler (!!!):
  • Glenn
    This is a (too?) detailed account of events that occurred in Boston/Cambridge in 1968. A chapter is devoted to each of: the end of the folk scene, Van Morrison's band, the groundbreaking TV show "What's Happening Mr. Silver?", the opening of the Boston Tea Party, the start of WBCN, the James Brown concert the night after MLK was killed, the "Spiritualist" movement in Boston, and more. Many many chapters concern Mel Lyman's Fort Hill Community and...
  • Tad Richards
    You might expect a book that takes Van Morrison’s legendary album title for its own, and suggests that it will be about Morrison’s time in Boston creating this breakthrough music, to actually be about that. The bad news is that if that’s what the book is supposed to be about, it does get a little lost in digressions. The very good news is that the digressions—Boston’s counterculture in the year of Counterculture ascendant—are far mor...
  • Jason Rabin
    Not just a deep dive into the Boston origins of Van Morrison's Astral Weeks, but a mosaic of the music and cultural scene surrounding them--centered in 1968, with flashbacks, flash forwards and on-theme digressions. As a participant in the local music scene who wasn't yet born in 1968 but very much lives in its aftermath, I can say that my understanding has been greatly expanded by this colorful, insightful and well-researched piece of rock journ...
  • Jack Saltzberg
    What do The Jim Kweskin Jug Band, The Velvet Underground, Van Morrison, the Mob, The Bosstown sound, and an LSD based cult have in common? They were all active in Boston in 1968. I, like many others, read this because I thought it was going to be about the making of the album Astral Weeks. While it is touches on Van preparing to make that album, it is really about the underground scene in Boston. While that year in San Francisco has been extensiv...
  • Andrea
    I did not expect it to be so beautifully written.Background: I graduated HS in the summer of 1968 in a town nearby to Boston and hid in my room and lived thru my radio. I visualized a lot of this since I could not get to Boston then.The story is really more about Boston popular culture in 1968 than about Van Morrison.
  • Ed Mckeon
    I was 15 in 1968. I remember attending a union gathering with my parents and wandering around the streets in my paisley shirt, dodging in and out of head shops, record stores and hippie boutiques only now realizing that the tiny bit of Bosstown that I experienced was like a turntable stylus, only me scratching the surface. This book is amazing. I picked it up because I'm a huge Van fan, and have always loved Astral Weeks. Ryan Walsh, who is looki...
  • Steve Sanders
    In Astral Weeks, Ryan Walsh gives us parallel portraits of two gifted musicians —Van Morrison and Mel Lyman—and the divergent ways in which they responded to what Philip Roth called “indigenous American berserk.” Lyman channeled the rhetoric of utopia and transcendence into the Fort Hill commune, allowing the high-minded ideals to curdle into violence, exploitation, and cult of personality. Meanwhile, Walsh deftly illustrates how Morrison...
  • Ian Hamilton
    Walsh doesn't really succeed at formulating an effective overarching thesis. There are too many disparate ideas that make the read a little disjointed. Too much emphasis is placed on the Fort Hill Community; I think there's a good reason why this group has been largely forgotten by history. I did really appreciate the parts that focused on Van Morrison and the Astral Weeks record, one of my personal favorites. Similarly, I learned a lot of more a...
  • Jay Gabler
    Not for the casual fan of Van the Man, but people who love Astral Weeks (the album) or follow the Boston music scene will appreciate this detailed history. I reviewed Astral Weeks (the book) for The Current.
  • Jeff
    A mistakeShould have read the description more carefully. If you care about Van Morrison or folk music scene in Boston in 1968, it's probably good. I'm not at all interested in either.
  • Larry
    This was really awesome. (it happens to be about one of my top 5 albums and a place I've lived so the subject matter was a sure hit but it surpassed my expectations)
  • Richard
    This was a truly absorbing read. A model of blending cultural & music history.
  • Brad
    The best kind of history book - one that begins as a focus on a specific topic and uses it to tell a broader story of the world of its time.
  • Tina Ambury
    Weirdly informative.
  • Charles
    I realize that an author is not required to write the book that any reader would prefer from him/her, but rather should follow his/her muse and be true to that. However, with a book entitled Astral Weeks, one really might expect a really thorough study of Van Morrison's seminal album. If that is what a reader expects (as I did), this is NOT the book. Readers must wait for ch. 11 (final chapter before the epilogue) for even a step by step explanat...