Both tunes appeared on Morrison’s only Bang LP: “Blowin’ Your Mind,” which was released in 1971. This was an album that was compiled by Bert Berns and Morrison has never liked the album or its psychedelic cover. Ilene Berns believed that the ensuing arguments between Berns and Morrison concerning the album were contributing factors to Berns’ untimely death.
Although a “B” side in 1971, it was not the first time that “Midnight Special” appeared as a flip side. It was paired with “Brown Eyed Girl” on the 1968 Philco Hip Pocket Record release, but it was not the “B” side of the hit version of the single on Bang. That flip was “Goodbye Baby (Baby Goodbye).”
Morrison’s version of “Midnight Special” was arranged by Bert Berns; however, many believe that the song was originally written by Lead Belly as Alan Lomax credited him as such. While Lead Belly recorded an early version of the tune and had some original verses, it was an older traditional tune that first appeared in print when Lead Belly was only 17. No one knows its source.
While “Midnight Special” was a popular song from Morrison’s live performances, neither “Spanish Rose” nor “Midnight Special” charted upon their release in 1971. Morrison, by the way, played the harmonica on the cut as well.