Van Morrison

Sweet Thing

Composed by Van Morrison

Song Review by

Van Morrison's "Sweet Thing" is a difficult song to understand outside the context of Astral Weeks, the 1968 album on which it was included, but that hasn't kept it from being covered by the Waterboys on their 1988 album Fisherman's Blues or chosen as the one track from Astral Weeks included on the multi-platinum 1990 album The Best of Van Morrison. The mid-tempo song stands in contrast to the other three songs on the first side of Astral Weeks, and thus serves as a welcome change of pace (though it should be noted that producer Lewis Merenstein, not Morrison, sequenced the album and that Morrison has criticized the sequencing). The music, keying from Morrison's acoustic guitar, plays a light, repeating sequence with some striking improvisations, especially from Richard Davis' swooping bass and Connie Kay's expressive drums. Over the endlessly descending, circular progression, Morrison sings positive lyrics about nature and a romantic partner, seemingly beginning in the middle of a thought: "And I will stroll the merry way." The language is heightened, with its references to chariots and champagne eyes, and contains striking paradoxes, notably "And I will never grow so old again." But the mood is positive, even giddy, in contrast to much of the rest of the album. Early in the second verse, a string quartet joins the proceedings, giving the song an even more effervescent feel. But "Sweet Thing" remains less a song in the usual sense than a musical meditation in which Van Morrison muses about certain images over a remarkable mélange of folk, blues, and jazz, some of it played with classical music instruments. You could say much the same about the rest of Astral Weeks, of course, but "Sweet Thing" is the only song on the album that looks forward instead of backward, and the only one that is celebratory, which may help explain why it was chosen by the compilers of The Best of Van Morrison to represent his most remarkable album.

Appears On

Year Artist/Album Label Time AllMusic Rating
Astral Weeks 1968 Rhino
The Best of Van Morrison [Mercury] 1990 Pol
John Peel: A Tribute 2005
Various Artists
WEA International 4:21
Astral Weeks/Moondance/His Band and the Street Choir 2008 Rhino 4:25
Astral Weeks: Live at the Hollywood Bowl 2009 Listen To The Lion Records 5:37
The  Ultimate Hits: The Best 2012 Blueline / IMV / IMV Blueline / Laser Media 4:22
It's Too Late to Stop Now...Vols. II, III, IV and DVD 2016 Legacy / Sony Music 5:50
Classic Love Songs [2017]
Various Artists
Spectrum Music 4:22
It's Never Too Late
It's the 60's!
Various Artists
Rhino 4:20
blue highlight denotes editor's pick