The 1937 Flood Watch
The 1937 Flood Watch Podcast


#128 / Sept. 30 Podcast

What a happy coincidence it was that our saxophonist Veezy Coffman brought her shiny, silver soprano to the rehearsal as we were just starting to work out our arrangement of “Moondance.”

It was unbeknownst to her (shoot, unbeknownst to all of us) that a sax — specifically a member of that high-flying end of the saxophone family — was fundamental to Van Morrison’s composition of this classic tune.

Morrison, while famously closed-mouthed about the origins of most of his songs, has said about this one, “I wrote the melody first. I played the melody on a soprano sax and I knew I had a song, so I wrote lyrics to go with the melody.”

Morrison initially said he didn’t really have any words to particularly describe the song, but later added, “’Sophisticated’ is probably the word I’m looking for. For me, ‘Moondance’ is a sophisticated song. Frank Sinatra wouldn’t be out of place singing it.”

Sophisticated, indeed, said Morrison biographer John Collis, who commented that “Moondance” is more commercially accessible for most radio stations than a lot of Van’s earlier work.

Collis called it "an important song in the development of Morrison's career, since it indicated to radio station programmers a previously unsuspected versatility. Stations that would never have considered playing, say ’Slim Slow Slider’ found that the smooth, jazzy sophistication of 'Moondance' was more to their taste."

It is widely believed that “Moondance” today is Morrison’s favorite of all his compositions. It is the one he most frequently performs in concert. And others love it too. It placed right in the middle of Rolling Stone magazine’s December 2004 feature “The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time” and it is listed among The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame’s “500 Songs that Shaped Rock and Roll.”

Our Take on the Tune

When we first started fiddling with this tune, it didn’t seem to gel for us. But that was back before our brother Randy Hamilton returned to the fold after being gone for a couple of years.

And when we’ve discovered that it was one of Randy’s all-time favorite songs too, we just turned the vocals over to him and suddenly “Moondance” has lately started finding its footing in The Flood. Here, as a kind of progress report, is the latest rendition, with solos by the whole crew, Danny, Sam and Veezy.

The 1937 Flood Watch
The 1937 Flood Watch Podcast
Each week The 1937 Flood, West Virginia's most eclectic string band, offers a free tune from a recent rehearsal, show or jam session. Music styles range from blues and jazz to folk, hokum, ballad and old-time. All the podcasts, dating back to 2008, are archived on our website; you and use the archive for free at: