Them – Mystic Eyes

Van is the man….he made some absolutely classic songs when he started out with Them. Gloria is probably the most famous song they did but they had many more. I discovered them when I was 18 and I had to import an album from the UK to get an album. It’s not like it is now…you had to work for it. It’s pure music with a relentless backbeat.

This powerful song builds up and lead singer Van Morrison takes over. Van’s voice and the bass are hypnotic. It was the first song on the first album by Them…named Angry Young Them released in 1965. It was written by Van Morrison who would in the future use the word Mystic in a few more songs.

The song peaked at #33 on the Billboard 100 and #24 in Canada but didn’t chart in the  UK. I  mentioned earlier that Gloria is their most popular song but the hit version was by Shadows Of Night in 1965. It was a B side with Them to the great song Baby Please Don’t Go.

Van has said the band was improvising in the studio and the song was born.

Van Morrison said the song was inspired by his own experience walking around England’s Nottingham Park when he saw some kids playing by a graveyard. Morrison was struck by the powerful intersection between the “bright lights in the children’s eyes” and “the cloudy lights in the eyes of the dead.”

Mystic Eyes

One Sunday mornin’
A-we went walkin’
Down by, the old graveyard
The mornin’ fog
I looked into
A-yeah, those mystic eyes

Her mystic eyes
Mystic eyes
Mystic eyes
Mystic, eyes
Mystic eyes
Mystic eyes
Oh, the mystic eyes
Mystic Eyes

Van Morrison

Van the man is supposedly a difficult man to know but man can he sing and write… He started out with a group called Them in Belfast Ireland. They were very underrated and made some great music in the mid 60s. Gloria, Mystic Eyes, Baby Please Don’t Go, Here Comes The Night, Don’t Look Back and my favorite that is hard to find…”Mighty Like A Rose”…

He quit Them and signed with Bert Bern’s Bang records and wrote Brown Eyed Girl which sounds fresh no matter how many times i hear it. After the death of Berns he started on his great albums. Astral Weeks, Moondance, His Band and The Street Choir, Tupelo Honey, Saint Dominic’s Preview, Hard Nose the Highway and the list continues on.

My favorites are Moondance and Tupelo Honey. These albums are consistently great. I also love the title track to Saint Dominic’s Preview…it’s an epic song that I can listen to over and over with the imagery never getting old. I would suggest to anyone to get the early to mid seventies albums (but his other albums are great also) and listen to all the songs….not just the radio friendly ones. The radio songs are great… Moondance, Crazy Love, Tupelo Honey, Blue Money, Domino, Blue Money, Caravan, Wild Night but there is so much more.

Van’s voice and phrasing is like no other. I saw him live finally in 2006 and his voice was even better than I thought. If I could sing like anyone…I would pick Van.

For a person who wants to listen to Van for the first time… I would recommend the Tupelo Honey and Moondance albums to start off with…. Rock, country, folk, pop and some jazz for good measure…all mixed together in terrific songs… for his early work with Them get The Story of Them Featuring Van Morrison