Van Morrison

Wild Night

Song Review by

Van Morrison kept the hits coming following his successful Moondance album. "Wild Nights" was the first single from the Tupelo Honey sessions and eventually reached number 28 on the Billboard charts. The track is an effusive three and a half minutes of Stax-inspired R&B, buoyed by a sweet guitar lick from Ronnie Montrose of such quality that would make Steve Cropper proud and a healthy dollop of brassy horns add up to one vibrant arrangement. The lyrics describe the same youthful energy that Morrison delivers with his vocal, perfectly capturing the simmering anticipation of a night on the town in the opening verse -- deployed with a kind of swinging, unrestrained glee, in a rush of slightly garbled phrases: "As you brush your shoes and stand before the mirror/And you comb your hair/And grab your coat and love/And you walk, wet streets/Tryin' to remember/All the wild night breezes in your memory ever." Momentum is brilliantly maintained through a building bridge section, Morrison shifting the vocal melody while capturing the breezy free feeling of easin' on down the street -- "And everything looks so complete/When you're walkin' out on the street/And the wind catches your feet/ And sends you flyin', cryin'" -- while steel guitar adds subtle down-home accents underneath the mix. Pulsing horns bolster Morrison's chorus refrain, drawing out a euphoric "Oooh-wee!/Wild night is calling," the rhythm doubling up to a quick stomp leading up to short stops -- the band swinging effortlessly. The groove escalates to an infectious shuffle as Morrison pleads, "Come on out and dance/Come on out and make romance," the horns engaging in a bit of call and response blasts in an interweaving arrangement.

When asked in an interview if he ever consciously writes with pop radio in mind, Morrison claimed that it is really a matter of happenstance: "No, there's no conscious thing one way or the other. I think a lot of the things I do just happen to be in that bag. Sometimes the way we record the song is the biggest factor. Like, 'Wild Night' was originally a much slower number but when we got to fooling around with it in the studio, we ended up doing it in a faster tempo. So they put it out as a single."

Appears On

Year Artist/Album Label Time AllMusic Rating
Tupelo Honey 1971 Polydor 3:33
Sounds of the Seventies: 1971 1989
Various Artists
Time / Life Music 3:32
The Best of Van Morrison [Mercury] 1990 Polydor 3:32
At the Movies: Soundtrack Hits 2007 EMI Music Distribution / Manhattan Records 3:33
Still on Top: The Greatest Hits 2007 Polydor
The Essential Van Morrison 2015 Exile Productions / Sony Legacy 3:34
The Genuine Philosophers Stone One 6:22