Recently, I was finalizing the artwork for the single "All and Everything" and that got me thinking about songs that featured the moon. The "full moon shining on down" in the second verse was so vivid in my mind that it became a central image of the song for me. And I really like how that line echoed the spotlit stage in the first verse. Most of the songs listed below have far more moon-centric lyrics. All but two of them have the word "moon" right in the title.
As I was compiling this Spotify playlist I noticed that many of these songs are strongly associated with a movie. My guess is that filmmakers are drawn in by that vivid image of the moon hanging in the night sky. This list has it all: werewolves, a gang fight, an Elvis impersonator, a Kennedy, a muppet, and Russel Brand. So buckle up, moonbeam this is going to be a rocket ride.
Moondance by VanMorrison--A beautiful jazzy song that has become a modern standard, VanMorrison has played Moondance live more than any other song. Today, it seems incredible that the song was recorded in 1970 but not released as a single until 1977.
Moonshadow by Yusuf / Cat Stevens-- John Landis wanted to use Moonshadow for a scene in his movie An American Werewolf in Paris, but Stevens had recently converted to Islam and did not approve of the film. Landis was also denied Moonshiner by Bob Dylan. He did eventually did secure the rights to use... Van Morrison's Moondance.
Man on the Moon by REM--This is Micheal Stipe's ode to comedian Andy Kaufman. Stipe wrote the lyrics while listening to a cassette of the instrumental demo in his rental car. Peter Buck recalls the band "being stunned" when Stipe first sang it in the studio. Mike Mills loved the "beautiful lyric that encompasses doubt, belief, transition, conspiracy and truth." The song was also on the soundtrack of the Kaufman bio-pic featuring another brilliant performance from Jim Carrey.
The Moon Song by Karen O. and Ezra Koenig--The Moon Song was yet another song featured prominently in a movie soundtrack. Karen O read the script for the movie Her about "the love between a man and an operating system" and recorded the song at her dining room table. The song was released as both solo version and a duet.
Harvest Moon by Neil Young--Neil Young has written over twenty-five songs about the moon. He likes creating during a full moon saying "It can be dangerous working in a full moon atmosphere because if there are things that are going to go wrong, they can really go wrong. But that's great, especially for rock 'n' roll." Harvest Moon is one of Neil's quietest songs and the brush strokes on the snare drum can be heard clearly in the gorgeous arrangement. The song is also featured on his highly underrated Unplugged performance.
Brain Damage by Pink Floyd--A song strongly associated with the Syd Barret mental instability and The Scarecrow in The Wizard of Oz. It also employs an interesting studio trick and pans from mono out to stereo to create an expanding effect to underpin the theme of the lyrics.
Walking on the Moon by The Police--While he was in a hotel room in Munich Sting came up with the reggae-inspired bassline and began walking around the room as he brainstormed lyrics. He began singing "walking round the room" as a joke. He thought it was "a stupid title so I thought of something even more stupid which was 'Walking on the moon.'"
I Don't Want to Live on the Moon by Ernie and Shawn Colvin--The song first appeared on Sesame Street in 1978. The lyrics, by Jeff Moss, have been called "damn near heartbreaking." I included Ernie's duet with Sonny Came Home singer Shawn Colvin on the playlist.
Bad Moon Rising by Creedence Clearwater Revival--John Fogerty famously kept a songwriter's notebook where he would jot down possible titles. Proud Mary and Bad Moon Rising were two of the megahits that were inspired by this practice. The song took further inspiration from the film The Devil and Daniel Webster and the turmoil in the late 1960's following the assassinations of MLK and Robert Kennedy.
Dancing in the Moonlight by King Harvest--This grooving tune features lines like "You can't dance and stay uptight" but has a dark origin story. Sherman Kelly was visiting St. Croix when brutally beaten by a gang known for attacking tourists. He received multiple facial fractures and was left for dead. While he was recovering he "envisioned an alternate reality, the dream of a peaceful and joyful celebration" which inspired the song.
Light of the Moon Sharaya Summers--A haunting song released in 2018, Summers says she wrote the song when she was "feeling depressed about the meaningless of life and loneliness. But finding hope in the beauty of nature and something beyond what we understand." Her plaintive voice sings "Drifted away on a sea of someone else’s truth. / Deep in the dark I’ll find my way through. / By the light of the moon."
My Man, My Moon by Feist--This song is built on a single, repeating musical line so the arrangement and performance had to be strong for this song to work. There is a driving beat but also a meditative quality to the song which became a pretty big Indie pop hit in 2010.
Arthur's Theme by Fitz and the Tantrums--This is a pretty intriguing cover song of the theme from the movie Arthur. Russell Brand's rebooted Dudley Moore's classic comedy in 2011 in what might be considered a cover movie. Is that a thing? In any case, the music video is much shorter than Brand's reboot.
Fly me to the Moon by David Sikabwe-- Listen, I know the Frank Sinatra version is transcendent. It's the song I most often sing to myself. BUT, I loved this viral video the first time I heard it, and I clearly remember playing it over and over again. AND, this is an internet blog so I need to put at least one viral video on the list.
And that's the list. What were my hits and misses? Check out my Songs about the Moon Spotify Playlist featuring these songs and more.
And as a bonus here are the rap verse lyrics for "Fly Me to the Moon" by David Sikabwe
They say that every day the
And we discover certain things
that we don't understand
Well, dark matter ain't the
only mystery at hand
I'm wondering how I got
a girl like you to say
that I'm her man
It's a statistical anomaly
but girl you got me
Gravity is pulling me to
your heavenly body
No astronomical phenomenon
could ever stop me
You've got a smile that
every star in the galaxy copy
The constellations couldn't
make as beautiful a pattern
The conversations every night
I ring you up like Saturn
The telescopes tell us folks
That you're the coolest view
A supernova scooting over
to make room for you
'Cause you eclipse every wonder
of the cosmos, it's almost
unfair to them but you're
the one I want most
It's a miracle that Galileo
never found you, if he did
he'd say the universe revolved
Fly me to the moon
And let me play
among the stars
Let me see what spring
is like on, Jupiter Mars