"Into the Mystic"
Song by Van Morrison
from the album Moondance
ReleasedFebruary 1970
RecordedSeptember–November 1969, at the A&R Recording Studios, New York City
LabelWarner Bros. Records
Songwriter(s)Van Morrison
Producer(s)Van Morrison and Lewis Merenstein
Moondance track listing

"Into the Mystic" is a song written by Northern Irish singer-songwriter Van Morrison and featured on his 1970 album Moondance. It was also included on Morrison's 1974 live album, It's Too Late to Stop Now.

Recording and composition

"Into the Mystic" was recorded during the Moondance sessions at A&R Recording Studios in New York City in September to November 1969. Elliott Scheiner was the engineer.[4]

The lyrics are about a spiritual quest, typical of Morrison's work. "Bass thrums like a boat in motion, and the song comes back to water as a means of magical transformation."[5] "At the very end Van sings: too late to stop now, suggesting that the song also describes an act of love." (This phrase would become a key point of many live concerts.)[6] Compared to "Yesterday" by The Beatles, it has been described as "another song where the music and the words seem to have been born together, at the same time, to make one perfectly formed, complete artistic element."[7]

Morrison remarked on the song and how its use of homophones lent it alternate meanings:

"'Into the Mystic' is another one like 'Madame Joy' and 'Brown Eyed Girl'. Originally I wrote it as 'Into the Misty'. But later I thought that it had something of an ethereal feeling to it so I called it 'Into the Mystic'. That song is kind of funny because when it came time to send the lyrics in WB Music, I couldn't figure out what to send them. Because really the song has two sets of lyrics. For example, there's 'I was born before the wind' and 'I was borne before the wind', and also 'Also younger than the sun, Ere the bonny boat was one' and 'All so younger than the son, Ere the bonny boat was won' ... I guess the song is just about being part of the universe."[5]

Music critic Johnny Rogan explained that because of these homophones, "although [the song's] province sounded like the astral plane, it also conjured images of the shipyards of East Belfast with Morrison's tenor sax imitating the sound of a fog horn."[8]


A Rolling Stone review by Greil Marcus and Lester Bangs described the song's importance on the album as: "'Into the Mystic' is the heart of Moondance; the music unfolds with a classic sense of timing, guitar strums fading into watery notes on a piano, the bass counting off the pace. The lines of the song and Morrison's delivery of them are gorgeous: 'I want to rock your gypsy soul/Just like in the days of old/And magnificently we will fold/Into the mystic.'[9] The Moondance Allmusic review described it as "a song of such elemental beauty and grace as to stand as arguably the quintessential Morrison moment."[10] Rogan described it as "one of [Morrison's] finest compositions of the period."[8] Ultimate Classic Rock rated "Into the Mystic" as Morrison's greatest song, stating that its "grace and style" turned it into "an instant classic."[11]


"Into the Mystic" is No. 474 on the list of Rolling Stone's 2010 feature, The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time,[12] No. 480 in the 2004 feature, and No. 462 in the 2021 feature and was listed as No. 42 on The 885 Essential XPN Songs compiled in 2008 by WXPN from listener's votes.[13]

According to a BBC survey, because of this song's cooling, soothing vibe, this is one of the most popular songs for surgeons to listen to while performing operations.[14] Singer-songwriter Elvis Costello has identified this song as one of his favourite songs on Moondance, one of his 500 essential albums.[15]

"Into the Mystic" is also Morrison's second most streamed song on Spotify, with "Brown Eyed Girl" being first and "Moondance" third.[16] On the Billboard Rock Digital Song Sales, it peaked at #5[17] and in 2022 "Into the Mystic" reached #1 on the Ireland radio airplay chart.[18]

Alternate mix

On the original 1970 pressings of the Moondance LP, "Into the Mystic" is presented in a mix done on 10 December 1969, featuring a prominent tambourine throughout the song. Later LP pressings, and all CD reissues of the album prior to 2008, contain an alternate mix of the song done on 5 January 1970, lacking the tambourine and with a more muted foghorn sound.[19] The original tambourine mix of the song made its CD debut in a 2008 Japanese Moondance remaster, and was also restored for a vinyl reissue of the album on Rhino Records later that year. The 2013 remaster of the Moondance album also features the tambourine mix.

Other releases

A live version was included on the 1974 double live album It's Too Late to Stop Now, with the same live version included on the 2007 compilation album, Van Morrison at the Movies - Soundtrack Hits. An instrumental version of the song is played in a medley with "Inarticulate Speech of the Heart" on the 1984 live album Live at the Grand Opera House Belfast. The original version is one of the songs included in the 2007 compilation album, Still on Top - The Greatest Hits (UK edition only).

In the media

"Into the Mystic" has featured in several movies beginning in 1971 with Sweets McGee and two movies in 1989: Dream a Little Dream and Immediate Family.[20] It was one of the songs played in the 1998 movie Patch Adams and again in the 1999 movie Kate's Addiction. It was played as Jim and Michelle's first dance as a married couple in the 2003 movie American Wedding, along with a cover version of the song by The Wallflowers.[20] The song can also be heard on the soundtrack of the HBO television show The Newsroom in the 2013 Season 2 premiere. It plays at the end of episode 2 of the Mars mission series Away. The song was also used by the Boston Red Sox to honor the late long-time color commentator Jerry Remy during a pre-game ceremony early in the 2022 season.


"Into the Mystic"
Single by Johnny Rivers
from the album Slim Slo Slider
B-side"Jesus is a Soul Man"
ReleasedApril 1970
Genrefolk rock
LabelImperial Records
Songwriter(s)Van Morrison
Producer(s)Lou Adler
Johnny Rivers singles chronology
"One Woman"
"Into the Mystic"
"Fire and Rain"

"Into the Mystic" has been a popularly performed cover song over the years and has been recorded by many well-known musicians. Some of the artists performing it are Paul Carrack,[21] Joe Cocker,[21] Glen Hansard & Markéta Irglová (The Swell Season) on the Once (Collector's Edition of Original Soundtrack),[22] The Dead,[21] Jackson Hawke,[23] Colin James,[21] Ben E. King,[21] Michael McDonald,[24] The Allman Brothers Band,[25] Zac Brown Band,[26] Marc Cohn,[27] Paco Estrada, The Wallflowers,[21] Stoney Larue,[28] and Jason Isbell.[29] The Mike McClure Band covers the song on their 2005 album, Camelot Falling.[21] Johnny Rivers covered the song on his album Slim Slo Slider,[21] and Esther Phillips from her 1977 album You've Come a Long Way, Baby. Bob Dylan covered the song in Alicante, Spain on June 15,[30] 2023 in the midst of his "Rough and Rowdy Ways": World Wide Tour / 2021-2024.



  1. ^ "Moondance by van Morrison – Classic Rock Review". 10 July 2015.
  2. ^ "Into the Mystic, la ballata spirituale di van Morrison". 5 April 2018.
  3. ^ Sheridan, Tim (2015). "Van Morrison - "Into the Mystic". In Dimery, Robert (ed.). 1001 Songs You Must Hear Before You Die. New York: Universe. p. 271.
  4. ^ Heylin, p. 519
  5. ^ a b Hinton, p.108
  6. ^ Hinton, Celtic Crossroads p109
  7. ^ Elias, Jean-Claude (24 January 2010). "Van Morrison's undying Moondance inspires". jordantimes.com. Retrieved 10 February 2010.
  8. ^ a b Rogan, Johnny (2006). Van Morrison: No Surrender. Random House. p. 250. ISBN 9780099431831.
  9. ^ Marcus, Greil; Bangs, Lester (17 March 1970). "Moondance:Van Morrison". superseventies.com. Retrieved 8 November 2010.
  10. ^ Ankeny, Jason. "allmusic review". allmusic.com. Retrieved 2 March 2010.
  11. ^ Childers, Chad (31 August 2012). "10 Best Van Morrison Songs". Ultimate Classic Rock. Retrieved 29 July 2020.
  12. ^ "Rolling Stone 500 Greatest Songs List (Updated 2010)". rock-of-gibraltar.com. Archived from the original on 16 July 2011. Retrieved 8 November 2010.
  13. ^ "The 885 Essential XPN Songs". xpn.org. Retrieved 8 November 2010.
  14. ^ Into the Mystic Songfacts
  15. ^ Costello, Elvis (1 November 2000). "COSTELLO'S 500". elviscostello.info. Retrieved 7 December 2008.
  16. ^ "Van Morrison". Spotify.
  17. ^ "Van Morrison". Billboard.
  18. ^ "Into the Mystic".
  19. ^ "SH Spotlight – the True Story of the "Into the Mystic" mixing goof on van Morrison's "Moondance" album".
  20. ^ a b Van Morrison IMdB
  21. ^ a b c d e f g h "Grateful Dead Family Discography: Into the Mystic". deaddisc.com. Retrieved 7 October 2009.
  22. ^ "The Swell Season – Once: Music from the Motion Picture". sputnikmusic.com. Retrieved 7 October 2009.
  23. ^ "Jam! Music-Pop Encyclopedia – Jackson Hawke". jam.canoe.ca. Archived from the original on 10 July 2012. Retrieved 30 October 2009.
  24. ^ "Review of Michael McDonald – Soul Speak". bbc.co.uk. Retrieved 30 October 2009.
  25. ^ Collette, Doug (30 August 2008). "The Allman Brothers summer tour 2008". allaboutjazz.com. Retrieved 8 November 2010.
  26. ^ "Zac Brown Band – Live From Bonnaroo". thegobblersknob.com. Archived from the original on 22 October 2009. Retrieved 30 October 2009.
  27. ^ Caramanica, Jon, Chinen, Nate, Ratliff, Ben (18 July 2010). "Critics Choice: New CDs". The New York Times. Retrieved 2 August 2010.((cite news)): CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  28. ^ "STONEY LARUE ANNOUNCES NEW ALBUM ‘US TIME’" – theboot.com. Retrieved 27 August 2020.
  29. ^ "Jason Isbell & The 400 Unit – Live at Twist and Shout" – allmusic.com. Retrieved 5 September 2013.
  30. ^ "Bob Links: Alicante, Spain, Plaza de Toros Alicante" Retrieved 15 June 2023.