I’m being followed by a moon shadow
This morning – while all were sleeping in their beds – I crept outside to see the shining moon go down over the rooftops. How magical! We humans are living on an amazing ship we call our earth, floating in the galaxy, or rather gliding through space, attracted by two magnetic stars; the sun and the moon. This nocturnal spinning around on our ship’s axis, (oh when will someone design a moon-round ship I wonder) brings us nightly to our sister moon, who awaits our presence, and dances in our dreams. In the morning, when we say farewell, she disappears over the rooftops, graciously making a pathway for the queen of the heavens to hold sway once more.
The moon has been revered in poetry and song for hundreds, if not thousands of years. Here a few of my favourites, each one holds a special memory!
Fly me to the moon
A much loved song – recorded over 300 times, and written in 1954 by Bart Howard. Sinatra’s 1964 recording was aligned with NASA‘s Apollo space program. A recording of the song was played on the Apollo 10 mission which orbited the Moon, and Apollo 11 just prior to the Moon landing.
Among others who recorded versions of the song, Bobby Womack had a billboard hit in1968, Julie London, 1963, Paul Anka in 1963, and most recently in 2020, Miumiu a six-year-old from China made a home video that was then picked up by Italian musicians. Bruno Zucchetti included instrumentals and performed the song during lockdown.
Definitely a TOP MOON SONG!
However, my favourite rendition is Julie London
Blue moon refers to a rare event, i.e., once in a blue moon. A blue moon happens once in every few years. The song was written by Rodgers and Hart in the early 1930s. Poignantly, Richard Rodgers, a lifelong homosexual, was unable to find lasting love in his lifetime, hence the sad and beautiful undertone of loneliness and longing.
Recorded by Elvis, Jo Stafford, Mel Torme and others, perhaps the most potent version of the song is Ella Fitzgerald’s recording in 1957. Her soaring voice lifts that old blue moon right out of the starry oceans.
That said, my fond favourite is the laid-back recording by that master of relaxed vocals and all-time crooner, Dean Martin.
Ella Fitzgerald’s scintillating recording of ‘Paper Moon’ in 1945 was accompanied by the Delta Rhythm Boys. An all time classic. This popular jazz standard was written in 1933 by Harold Arlen, Yip Harburg, and Billy Rose. They really knew how to write songs back in those days! Oher versions were recorded by Frank Sinatra, Mel Torme, and the child star singer, Lena Zavaroni who recorded the song in the UK in 1981. Whatever happened to Lena by the way?
Check out the smooth, dreamy voice of the maestro, Nat King Cole. Here he is singing the song live in 1957.
Walking on the moon
This song was released by the reggae influenced band ‘The Police’ in 1979. It was one of the songs on their acclaimed album Regatta de Blanc. I can still remember the excitement I felt as a star struck teenager on hearing the strange, other worldly lyrics for the very first time. The sound was known as ‘white reggae’ back in the day and Sting was an absolute sensation. Rumour has it that the song popped into his head while lying in bed, drunk and stoned in a hotel room in Munich.
Here is the first verse:
Giant steps are what you take Walking on the moon I hope my legs don’t break Walking on the moon We could walk forever Walking on the moon We could live together Walking on, walking on the moonWalking on the moon, Police, 1979
The dark side of the moon
This incredible album was released in 1973 by Pink Floyd. Now, this is an eerie moon album – and the song entitled ‘great gig in the sky’ deals with mental illness and breakdown. Who can ever forget the bizarre keyboard intro, with an Irish man’s voice, saying ‘I am not frightened of dying, anytime will do’, followed by a witchy solo screamed out by Clare Torry, who sued the band in 2004 for royalties based on her contribution. You could argue that it was her haunting, semi-erotic vocal interlude that made the song a cult classic, worldwide. Torry was paid £30 for her studio work. In the end, she received an out of court settlement for her musical contribution – the solo was impromptu.
Au Clair de la lune
French folk song of the 18th century, and in 2008, according to Wikipedia
a phonautograph paper recording made by Édouard-Léon Scott de Martinville of “Au clair de la lune” on 9 April 1860, was digitally converted to sound by American researchers. This one-line excerpt of the song was widely reported to have been the earliest recognizable record of the human voice and the earliest recognizable record of music. According to those researchers, the phonautograph recording contains the beginning of the song, “Au clair de la lune, mon ami Pierrot, prête moi“.
A beautiful, poetic song by the great, Cat Stevens, pre-1978, written in that great period of flowering before he left the musical spotlight – abandoning his guitar and letting go of his plaintiff melodies – and turning his mind to Mecca.
The song speaks for itself. Cat is one of those guys I had a crush on, back in the day. Like, who wouldn’t?
Here he is performing the classic in 1970.