Into the Music

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Into the Music
Van Morrison Into the music cover.jpg
Studio album by Van Morrison
Released August 1979
January 2008 (Reissue)
Recorded Early 1979 at Record Plant, Sausalito
Genre Celtic
Pop rock
Length 49:30
Label Mercury (UK)
Warner Bros. (US)
Producer Van Morrison, Mick Glossop
Van Morrison chronology
Into the Music
Common One
Singles from Into the Music
  1. "Bright Side of the Road" b/w "Rolling Hills"
    Released: September 1979
  2. "Full Force Gale" b/w "Bright Side of the Road"
    Released: December 1979
  3. "You Make Me Feel So Free" b/w "Full Force Gale"
    Released: 1980

Into the Music is the eleventh studio album by Northern Irish singer/songwriter Van Morrison, released in 1979 (see 1979 in music).

Typical of Morrison's music, the album draws on a variety of styles, from New Orleans rhythm & blues to Philly soul and Celtic folk, with featured soloists, saxophonist Pee Wee Ellis, violinist Toni Marcus and the prominent backing vocals of Katie Kissoon.[1] On first release this album was hailed as a "comeback" after two lacklustre releases, charting at number twenty-one on the UK Album Charts in 1979. Its reputation has grown since release and it is often regarded as among Morrison's greatest albums.


Into the Music was recorded in early 1979 at the Record Plant in Sausalito, California with Mick Glossop as engineer.[2]

During the recording of the album, one of the musicians, trumpet player Mark Isham referred Morrison to Pee Wee Ellis who lived nearby. Morrison brought him in to do the horn charts for "Troubadours" with Ellis remaining and working on the entire album. The band also included Toni Marcus on strings, Robin Williamson on penny whistle, and Ry Cooder playing slide guitar on "Full Force Gale".[3]


Morrison wrote most of the songs while he was staying with Herbie Armstrong in the Cotswold village of Epwell, England, and the sense of place is reflected in the spirit of the music. During this time, he would often walk through the fields with his guitar composing the future album's songs.[4]

Erik Hage commented that after the favourable commercial reception of Wavelength, Morrison was inspired to "return to something deeper, to once again take up the quest for music, that was spontaneous, meditative, and transcendent—music that satisfied the other side of his artistic nature."[5] Morrison was quoted on his opinion of the album, "Into the Music was about the first album where I felt, I'm starting here...the Wavelength thing, I didn't really feel that was me." (1988) "That's when I got back into it. That's why I called it Into the Music." (1984)[6]

The opening track, "Bright Side of the Road" was a successful single in the UK, charting at #63. The healing power of music would be subtly introduced on "And the Healing Has Begun" and would be a continuing theme in Morrison's music. Although a celebration of love and life was the predominant theme of the album: "Troubadours", "Steppin' Out Queen" and "You Make Me Feel So Free" were especially so.[7] "Troubadours" is an uplifting celebration of the singer-songwriter from ancient days walking through towns "singin songs of love and chivalry". "Rolling Hills" is a joyful song in which the singer directly refers to Christianity and of living his life "in Him" and reading The Bible. The album is notable for its interpolation of an elegiac version of the fifties pop hit "It's All in the Game", that was voted #813 on Dave Marsh's list of 1001 Greatest Singles Ever Made. It was a B-side to the Morrison song "Cleaning Windows".[8]


Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
Allmusic 4.5/5 stars[9]
Robert Christgau (A)[10]
Rolling Stone favorable[11]

Dave Marsh described the album's nocturnal, balladic second side suite as "the greatest side of music Morrison has created since Astral Weeks".[12]

Rolling Stone reviewer Jay Cocks concludes: "That's what this album is about, proudly and stunningly and with no apologies. Resurrection. Real Hope."[13]

Robert Christgau gave it an A rating and wrote in his review: "The only great song on this record is "It's All in the Game," written by Calvin Coolidge's future vice-president in 1912. But I suspect it's Van's best album since Moondance."[14]

Erik Hage calls it "a fully fleshed-out musical vision that often surrenders to rapturous moments of pure beauty."[3]


After the release of Into the Music and before his next release, Common One, in 1980, Morrison appeared at the Montreux Jazz Festival with a fully fleshed-out big band. He performed two of the songs from the album, "Troubadours" and "Angeliou". These two songs featured Morrison interacting with the brass section composed of Pee Wee Ellis and Mark Isham. Erik Hage describes this musical relationship between Morrison and the two brass musicians as "simply stunning".[15] Morrison's 2006 released DVD, Live at Montreux 1980/1974, contained these performances of the two songs.

The 29 January 2008 reissued and remastered version of Into the Music contains alternative takes of "Steppin' Out Queen" and "Troubadours".

Track listing[edit]

All songs written by Van Morrison, unless noted.

Side one
  1. "Bright Side of the Road" – 3:47
  2. "Full Force Gale" – 3:14
  3. "Steppin' Out Queen" – 5:28
  4. "Troubadours" – 4:41
  5. "Rolling Hills" – 2:53
  6. "You Make Me Feel So Free" – 4:09
Side two
  1. "Angeliou" – 6:48
  2. "And the Healing Has Begun" – 7:59
  3. "It's All in the Game" (Charles Dawes, Carl Sigman) – 4:39
  4. "You Know What They're Writing About" – 6:10
2008 Compact Disc bonus tracks
  1. "Steppin' Out Queen" (Alternative take) – 7:00
  2. "Troubadours" (Alternative take) – 5:30



Additional musicians[edit]


  • Producer: Van Morrison
  • Assistant Producer: Mick Glossop
  • Recorded & Mixed by: Mick Glossop
  • Assistant Engineers: Alex Cash (recording), Leslie Ann Jones (mixing)
  • Horn Arrangements: Pee Wee Ellis, Mark Isham
  • Coordination: Richard Freeman, Ed Fletcher
  • Photography and design: Norman Seeff



Year Chart Position
1979 Pop Albums 43 [16]

UK Album Chart

Year Chart Position
1979 UK Album Chart 21[citation needed]


  1. ^ Howard A. DeWitt, Van Morrison: The Mystic's Music (Fremont, CA: Horizon, 1983), 105.
  2. ^ Heylin, Can You Feel the Silence?, p.523
  3. ^ a b Hage, The Words and Music of Van Morrison, pp. 90-91
  4. ^ Turner, Too Late to Stop Now, p. 141-142
  5. ^ Hage, The Words and Music of Van Morrison, p. 88.
  6. ^ Heylin, Can You Feel the Silence?, p.345
  7. ^ Rogan, No Surrender, p. 327
  8. ^ Marsh, Dave (1989). "The 1001 Greatest Singles". Retrieved 2008-08-12. 
  9. ^ Erlewine, Steven Thomas. "Into the Music - Overview". Allmusic. Retrieved 2010-02-06. 
  10. ^ Christgau, Robert. "Into the Music". Retrieved 2010-02-06. 
  11. ^ Cocks, Jay. "Van Morrison: Into the Music". Retrieved 2010-02-06. 
  12. ^ Marsh, Dave The Rolling Stone Album Guide, 2nd Edition
  13. ^ Cocks, Jay (1979-11-01). "Into the Music Music Review". Rolling Stone Magazine. Retrieved 2008-12-07. 
  14. ^ Christgau, Robert. "Into the Music Review". Retrieved 2010-01-20. 
  15. ^ Hage, The Words and Music of Van Morrison, p.91
  16. ^