Beside You

Album: Astral Weeks (1968)
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  • Little Jimmy's gone

    "Beside You" traces a boy's escape out of his home and into the wilds of Ireland. He travels through town to the highway and into the hillsides, seemingly headed for the wilderness.

    Way across the country where the hillside mountains glide
    The dynamo of your smile caressed the barefoot virgin child to wander

    About halfway through the song there's a switch to an unnamed character who called the boy to run into the wilds ("caressed the barefoot virgin child to wander").

    Late in the song we switch to Van Morrison's own perspective, as he tells the child that he'll someday be beside him in the mystical landscape to which he's escaped.
  • Irish artist (and Morrison friend) Cecil McCartney's paintings on astral travel inspired the Astral Weeks album. Astral travel is basically a person projecting their mind/spirit out of their body and traveling through space and time in a disembodied state. That may be the best key to making sense of "Beside You."
  • The boy at the center of the song's narrative was inspired by the adopted son of Morrison's then-wife Janet "Planet" Rigsbee. Her son was named Peter, not Jimmy. We don't know why Morrison changed the name, but his statement about another Astral Weeks song might offer a key. Talking about "Madame George," he said that he didn't know why he changed the name of the song's protagonist from "Madame Joy," which was the name of his clairvoyant grandmother, Joy. It was just something he instinctively did with people's names.
  • Morrison recorded the song on September 25, 1968, during the first of three Astral Weeks sessions. On the same night, he recorded "Astral Weeks," "Cyprus Avenue," and "Madame George."
  • Nobody knows who plays the flute on this track. Everyone involved in recording forgot who it was, and there's no documentation to be found. The same anonymous person played flute on "Cyprus Avenue."
  • Elvis Costello cited this song specifically when calling Astral Weeks one of his 500 favorite albums.
  • The 1991 Bang Masters album includes an alternative version of "Beside You," this one with electric guitar rather than acoustic.
  • In 2008, actor and Twilight star Robert Pattinson told British film magazine Empire that this was his favorite song and that Morrison was his favorite musician.
  • In 2017 The Authorized Bang Collection album includes three versions of the song, including the original mono mix and two electric versions, titled "Beside You [Take 2]" and "Beside You [Take 5]."


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