OK, right off the bat: This is a purely subjective list.
It’s my list of the 10 best “moon” songs. Not yours. I understand that “Fly Me to the Moon” might be on your list. It’s not on mine, and if you thought it would be, you don’t know me.
There are some songs I love that have the word “moon” in the title but aren’t really about the moon, like Beck’s “Blue Moon,” a wonderful song, and “Moon River,” another great song, though it’s about a river, not the moon. Those songs are out.
I guess what I’m trying to say is, the 50th anniversary of Apollo 11’s “moon landing” (see No. 7 below) is really just a chance for me to make a list of songs I like that are, at least tangentially, about the moon. And though having “moon” in the title is not a requisite, most of them do.
Oddly, no Beatles songs. (And, no, nothing you can do to me will make me ever put McCartney’s “C Moon” anywhere near a list unless said list starts with the words “Worst songs …”)
Before we get into it, here are some that were finalists but did not make the list, in no particular order: “Pink Moon,” Nick Drake; “Half Moon,” Blind Pilot; “Dancing in the Moonlight,” King Harvest; “The Killing Moon,” Echo & the Bunnymen; “Walking on the Moon,” The Police; “Moonshadow,” Cat Stevens; “Moon Over Bourbon Street,” Sting; “Ticket to the Moon,” Electric Light Orchestra; “Virginia Moon,” Foo Fighters; “Drunk on the Moon,” Tom Waits; “Under the Cherry Moon,” Prince; “Talking to the Moon,” Don Henley; “It’s Only a Paper Moon,” take your pick of artists.
Here we go.
10. “Moondance.” Not a big Van fan, but this has to be on the list.
Lunar lyric: “And all the soft moonlight seems to shine in your blush.”
9. “Blue Moon.” Easily the oldest song in the top 10. So many people sang this one, so take your pick which one you like best.
Lunar lyric: “Blue moon, you saw me standing alone.”
8. “Moonlight Feels Right.” While compiling this list, I consulted Google to make sure I wasn’t forgetting any “moon” tunes, even perusing a “Top 150 Moon Songs” list, but no list I perused included this earworm by Starbuck. (You’re humming it right now and you know it.) My wife — who knows even more about ’70s music than I — reminded me of it. It includes perhaps the best xylophone solo ever. (Marimba, xylophone, whatever.)
Lunar lyric: “Me and moon are itchin’ to play.”
7. “The Whole of the Moon.” People (OK, me) are still trying to figure out, nearly 35 years later, who The Waterboys were singing about. (C.S. Lewis seems to be the leader). An epic tune.
Lunar lyric: “I saw the crescent, you saw the whole of the moon.”
6. “Man on the Moon.” I know, I know, it’s about Andy Kaufman, whose brand of humor I didn’t really “get” as a lad (or as an adult, to be honest), but it’s one of REM’s best. And it references the moon landing being a hoax, one of my favorite conspiracy theories, so there’s that.
Lunar lyric: “If you believe they put a man on the moon, if you believe there’s nothing up their sleeve, then nothing is cool.”
5. “Space Oddity.” Bowie’s haunting song was released five days before Apollo 11 blasted off. Something tells me they didn’t play it in the capsule. While I actually like his “Moonage Daydream” a little better, it’s not really about the moon.
Lunar lyric: “Here am I floating ’round my tin can, far above the moon. Planet Earth is blue and there’s nothing I can do.”
4. “Moonlight Drive.” From the Doors’ second album, though some say it was the first set of lyrics Jim Morrison ever wrote. Very groovy, baby.
Lunar lyric: “Let’s swim to the moon, let’s climb through the tide.”
3. “Bad Moon Rising.” Fifty years on, you can still hear this song, perhaps Creedence Clearwater Revival’s best-known, every day on classic-hits radio.
Lunar lyric: “Don’t go ’round tonight, it’s bound to take your life. There’s a bad moon on the rise.” (Somebody, somewhere, is saying, “You mean he’s not saying ‘there’s a bathroom on the right’?”)
2. “Harvest Moon.” A brilliant love song by the brilliant Neil Young from the brilliant album of the same name.
Lunar lyric: “Because I’m still in love with you on this harvest mo-o-o-o-on.”
1. “Brain Damage/Eclipse.” The last song on perhaps the greatest rock album of all time. Technically, it’s two tracks, but you never hear one without the other and most non-Pink Floyd fans (yes, there are some; such a sad world) probably don’t even know it’s two songs when they hear it (and they also probably think the title includes the word “lunatic,” like my family does).
Lunar lyric: “I’ll see you on the dark side of the moon.”
Aside from a love of music, Dan Phelps had no business writing this column.