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Astral Weeks by Ryan H. Walsh

Astral Weeks

Astral Weeks by Ryan H. Walsh
Mar 06, 2018 | 368 Pages
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    Mar 06, 2018 | 368 Pages

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    Mar 06, 2018 | 368 Pages

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“One of the finest books written about Boston. . . . Walsh weaves the stories of luminaries who had crucial experiences in Boston—Morrison, Lou Reed, Timothy Leary, James Brown—around the forgotten and often astonishing history of the city when it was old, weird, and grimy.”—Boston Magazine
“In 1968, Van Morrison was a rock & roll refugee, an Irish blues poet on the run after a bitter fling with pop stardom. Down and out in Boston, he wrote one of rock’s most beloved masterworks, Astral Weeks—then blew town. In this fantastic chronicle, Ryan Walsh unearths the time and place behind the music.”—Rolling Stone
“Ryan H. Walsh’s new book, Astral Weeks: A Secret History of 1968, takes up Morrison’s sui-generis masterpiece and unearths the largely forgotten context from which it emerged. . . . In documenting the milieu out of which the album came, Walsh also argues for Boston as an underappreciated hub of late-sixties radicalism, artistic invention, and social experimentation. The result is a complex, inquisitive, and satisfying book that illuminates and explicates the origins of Astral Weeks without diminishing the album’s otherworldly aura.”—Jon Michaud,

“Walsh describes Boston as ‘the true birthplace of American hallucinogenic culture.’ By the end of his colorful, highly illuminating history of the city’s late-60s freak scene, it’s hard to argue. . . . Astral Weeks is a book worthy of the name.”—Uncut

“The book is rich with details on what was then an incredible fertile time for the arts. . . . Walsh was drawn to write this book because he was so moved, as is anyone with a soul, by what became Morrison’s masterpiece. He honors that art with his own.”—Charles P. Pierce, Esquire
You don’t have to be a fan of Van Morrison’s staggeringly unique, near-perfect album to appreciate Walsh’s strange, engaging history of a time and place in America (Boston, 1968), and what it reveals about the forces (political, cultural) altering the fabric of the entire nation. (If you do happen to like Astral Weeks, this book is definitely for you.)—Jonny Diamond, Lit Hub

“That Walsh has taken on the milieu surrounding a beloved album is impressive—and his holistic approach, encompassing a host of countercultural figures and groups in late-1960s Boston, offers a bold blend of the familiar and the unknown.”—Vol. 1 Brooklyn
“Walsh writes with the enthusiasm of a fan and the precision and depth of an expert. A first-rate book about a piece of music and the time in which it was created.”—Booklist 

“An energetic history. . . . A fine-grained and wide-ranging portrait of the album’s gestation. . . and of life in the city’s counterculture in that raucous year. . . . Offers deep insight into the creative process of this mysterious work. . . . The late ‘60s counterculture in New York in San Francisco is a well-known story. What happened in Boston ‘has gone largely unremarked.’ Astral Weeks fills that void with gusto.”—Shelf Awareness

Astral Weeks is many things: a deeply-reported illumination of the Boston underground of the late ’60s; an investigation of a mysterious cult leader; the skeleton key to a canonical album by Van Morrison. But at its heart is a journalist’s quest to understand the very air that was breathed in a single moment in time, a personal reading of the poetry of history, and a yearning to trace the invisible byways of inspiration itself.”— Joe Hagan, author of Sticky Fingers: The Life and Times of Jann Wenner and Rolling Stone Magazine

“The lost story behind a timeless album—a wandering Irish songwriter named Van Morrison, stuck in a strange town called Boston in 1968. Ryan H. Walsh digs deep into all the moment’s cultural and spiritual chaos, with a bizarre cast of characters—making the music sound even weirder and more beautiful than it already did. There’s no rock and roll story quite like Astral Weeks.”—Rob Sheffield, author of Dreaming the Beatles and Love is a Mix Tape

Astral Weeks is a veritable time machine to the folly and ferment of 1968 Boston—a time when James Brown could stop a riot, a movie star could get mixed up in bank robbery, and a high school kid could find himself backing one of rock’s great bands.”—Paul Collins, author of The Murder of the Century

“In this incredible new book, Ryan H. Walsh takes us through late ‘60s Boston in all its splendid morning glory. The forgotten hippie band Ultimate Spinach. The psychedelic TV show What’s Happening, Mr. Silver? The story of how Don Rickles’s mafia connections helped Van Morrison break a contract. Astral Weeks is filled with fascinating new information and page after page of mind-blowing, psychedelic revelations.”—Kliph Nesteroff, author of The Comedians

“A magical mystery tour into an untold chapter of countercultural history—the ivy-walled, lace-curtained city of Boston, it turns out, concealed an underground scene as offbeat as anything found on the Haight or the Lower East Side. Ryan H. Walsh takes us down all of its rabbit holes in this lushly told historical portrait.”—Mitch Horowitz, PEN Award-winning author of Occult America

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