By Hans Ebert
And that’s the beauty of music- when it sneaks up on you when you’re not looking for it, and how one song can affect your entire being for that moment and it’s then up to you how long you want it to last.
I had first heard “Into The Mystic” by Johnny Rivers, who never got his rightful dues for his music, his business acumen, taking the fledgling songwriting career of a kid named Jimmy Webb and putting it on the right path, and for writing and recording “Poor Side Of Town” and a hugely underrated album called “Rewind” that showcased the early songs of Webb.
In a few short years, Johnny Rivers went from playing covers at The Whiskey to becoming a savvy music executive who understood the value in music publishing.
“Into The Mystic” flowed into my life when hooked on the intro with the guitar strumming changing the way I approached writing a song and the line, “And I wanna rock your gypsy soul.”
Sure, other songwriters had written great songs, but there was something about this line that was sexual, romantic and downright magical. A few years later when being turned on to the “Moondance” record and then absorbing “Astral Weeks” did I realise that the song was written by Van Morrison.
Who recorded the “better” version? Music is a subjective bitch, and you’re drawn to it for different reasons. Superficial as it might sound, for me, Johnny Rivers had the image that became part of the music whereas Van Morrison was a short, fat Irish guy who had an amazing voice, but wasn’t the total package.
It was like being drawn to Leon Russell and not Joe Cocker.
Now, years later, my emotional strings are attached to Johnny Rivers’ version of “Into The Mystic”. Apparently, there’s a version of the song by John Mayer.
But, you know, we’re just fucking lucky to have this song around- a song some of us grew up with and which lives inside us forever. And that’s what anyone writing a song must strive to achieve- keeping it real by singing about real life experiences. Anything less is bullshit. And like bullshit artists, you can smell fake musical stories a mile off. “Into The Mystic” doesn’t smell. I still wanna rock your gypsy soul, and you know who you are.