Monday, July 20, 2009

You're About to Be Mooned

About the time President Kennedy pledged America would win the space race with the Soviets, the easy-listening world went moon crazy. Throughout the 1960s, artists like Mel Torme, Frank Sinatra, Ella Fitzgerald, Sarah Vaughan and many, many others recorded songs (and often entire albums) about the moon. Funny thing is, most of these recordings were of the same songs done over and over again since there were a limited number of tunes on the subject. "Blue Moon", "Oh, You Crazy Moon" and "Moonlight Serenade" are a few examples.

Since the 1960s, however, it's obvious to me a bevy of bands have written on the moon and space. My only research for this is the fact that I have hundreds of songs in my iTunes library that I could have used today to celebrate the 40th anniversary of Neil Armstrong's moonwalk. I leaned toward David Bowie's "Space Oddity" since it was, indeed, released in 1969. Then I thought about Peter Schilling's '80s sequel "Major Tom (Coming Home)" because these two songs are so great together. Within about 60 seconds I had a list that included The Police ("Walking on the Moon"), The Waterboys ("The Whole of the Moon"), Talking Heads ("Moon Rocks"), R.E.M. ("Man on the Moon"), The Dukes of Stratosphere ("Bike Ride to the Moon") ,Komeda ("Rocket Plane") and Beulah ("If We Can Land a Man on the Moon, Surely I Can Win Your Heart").

Ultimately, I went with the following two songs for several reasons:

1. They were released during the space race.
2. Torme actually penned this rare original on the subject... instead of one of the usual standards.
3. The lyrics are examples of top-notch writing. Here is one small example.
And if your mother asks why the moon, honey
Just tell her your feller has gone interstellar

4. Check out that swingin' '60s babe on the album cover!!!
5. Sinatra's song was recorded with Count Basie and his orchestra.
6. Most of the rock songs I was considering are obvious for the occasion and will be covered by other bloggers today.

Mel Torme - Swingin' on the Moon (mp3)
Frank Sinatra - Fly Me to the Moon (mp3)

On Friday, Comedian Bill Maher said America is a lot like Michael Jackson. For both, their last great moment was a moonwalk done decades earlier. This gave me a deep belly laugh... for about one second. I'm wondering, is he correct?

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