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Moondance is the third studio album by Northern Irish singer-songwriter Van Morrison. It was released on 27 February 1970 by Warner Bros. Records. After the commercial failure of his first Warner Bros. album Astral Weeks, Morrison moved to upstate New York with his wife and began writing songs for Moondance.
After leaving the rock band Them, Morrison met record producer Bert Berns in New York City and recorded his first solo single, “Brown Eyed Girl”, in March 1967 for Berns’ Bang Records. When the producer unexpectedly died later that year, Morrison was offered a record deal by Warner Bros. Recordsexecutive Joe Smith, who had seen the singer perform at Boston’s Catacombs nightclub in August 1968. Smith bought out Morrison’s Bang contract, and he was able to record his first album for Warner Bros., Astral Weeks, that year. Although it was later acclaimed by critics, its collection of lengthy, acoustic, revelatory folk jazz songs was not well received by consumers at the time and the album proved to be a commercial failure.
After recording Astral Weeks, Morrison moved with his wife, Janet Planet, to a home on a mountain top in the Catskillsnear Woodstock, a hamlet in upstate New York with an artistic community. According to Planet, he was influenced by Bob Dylan, who had just moved out of town when Morrison arrived. “Van fully intended to become Dylan’s best friend”, Planet recalled. “Every time we’d drive past Dylan’s house … Van would just stare wistfully out the window at the gravel road leading to Dylan’s place. He thought Dylan was the only contemporary worthy of his attention.”
Morrison began writing songs for Moondance in July 1969. Because of Astral Weeks‘s poor sales figures, the singer wanted to produce a record that would be more accessible and appealing to listeners. “I make albums primarily to sell them and if I get too far out a lot of people can’t relate to it”, he later said. “I had to forget about the artistic thing because it didn’t make sense on a practical level. One has to live.” The musicians who went on to record Moondance with Morrison were recruited from Woodstock and would continue working with him for several years, including guitarist John Platania, saxophonist Jack Schroer, and keyboardist Jef . The singer left after the Woodstock music festival in August attracted an influx of people to the area.