40 Songs About The Moon

Juli Thanki | July 6th, 2009

This July marks the 40 year anniversary of the Apollo 11 mission in which man first set foot on the moon. And what better way to celebrate than with a lunar-loving playlist? Pop in those earbuds, fix yourself a big glass of Tang, and do a little stargazing this month.

  • Drag The River - You Can't Live This Way 40. “Defy the Moon” – Drag the River
    Punks turned twang-enthusiasts deliver this midtempo heartbreaker anchored by the pedal steel of Spacey Casey Prestwood. The band hasn’t completely deserted their roots, however: at under two minutes, this song’s about the length of your average Ramones tune.
  • King Wilkie - The Wilkie Family Singers 39. “Moon and Sun/Sun and Moon” – King Wilkie
    These two tracks bookend delightfully eccentric concept album The Wilkie Family Singers with jangly, Byrds and Beatles-influenced rootsy pop. If only the Wilkie Family Singers—and their associated housecat-percussionists, wacky neighbors, and therapists—were real…
  • Roosevelt Dime - Crooked Roots 38. “Man on the Moon” – Roosevelt Dime
    Brooklyn-based Americana trio offers up mopey, indie-rock-friendly lyrics set to banjo and horns.
  • Alan Jackson - Everything I Love 37. “Buicks to the Moon” – Alan Jackson
    The day Alan Jackson will stop loving you is so far in the future that all the stars will have been counted and we’ll be driving Buicks to the moon. Um, let’s hurry this up a little, because to be honest, having a rocket car sounds way more awesome than the love of a good man and his mullet.
  • The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band - Welcome to Woody Creek 36. “Jealous Moon” – Nitty Gritty Dirt Band
    This is Matraca Berg’s first appearance on this month’s playlist (here she teamed up with co-writers Jeff Hanna and Tim Krekel). It only takes one listen to the mellow harmonies on “Jealous Moon” to realize what an influence this band had on The Eagles and Alabama.
  • Elizabeth Cook - This Side of the Moon 35. “This Side of the Moon” – Elizabeth Cook
    The title track from Cook’s 2005 album is a sweetly sung ballad with all the pedal steel a country music lover could ask for. Oh, and the lyrics are pretty good too. Why isn’t Ms. Cook on Hazel Smith’s list of country music blondes?
  • Rhonda Vincent - One Step Ahead 34. “Missouri Moon” – Rhonda Vincent & The Rage
    Ms. Vincent is straight outta Kirksville, MO (Pop. 17, 057), so even though she didn’t write this song, there may be a touch of the autobiographical on this recording as the moon bears witness to the beginning and end of a love thought eternal.
  • The Pine Box Boys - Arkansas Killing Time 33. “New Moon” – Pine Box Boys
    With lyrics “Our Lord is like the new moon/Hidden from our sight/But I have faith that she’ll make peace with Him tonight,” it’s pretty obvious that things are not going to end well for the faithless woman in this song. These West Coast murdergrassers may only stick to one topic, but they sure do it well.
  • Hasil Adkins - Moon Over Madison 32. “Moon Over Madison” – Hasil Adkins
    The Haze gets lovelorn on this track from the album of the same name. It’s far less spirited than his songs about chicken and decapitation, but it’s still worth a listen or two.
  • Jimmie Rodgers - Recordings 1927-1933 31. “Moonlight and Skies” – Jimmie Rodgers
    A botched robbery ends up with a man in jail and his best friend in the morgue. This is all well and good, but one stanza is something of an eyebrow-raiser: “A pale moon is shining, is shining so bright/And lovers are strolling by my window tonight/Their laughter so merry brings heartaches and sighs/To a prisoner who’s lonely for the moonlight and skies.” Note to dudes everywhere: don’t take your girl for a romantic stroll outside the penitentiary.
  • Southern Culture on the Skids - Mojo Box 30. “Where Is the Moon” – Southern Culture on the Skids
    Rockabilly trio tones down their high energy sleaze for this midtempo number from Mojo Box. Hard to believe that the folks who sing about luchadores and pelt their audience with fried chicken during live shows can be so sensitive.
  • Uncle Earl - She Waits for Night 29. “Pale Moon” – Uncle Earl
    These incredibly talented gals deliver a collection of images set to string band sound. The lyrics of “Pale Moon” also gave the group’s 2005 major label debut She Waits for Night its name.
  • Bob Wills - The Essential Bob Wills and The Texas Playboys 28. “Sugar Moon” – Bob Wills
    Ain’t nothing better than walking with your sugar beneath the sugar moon during sugarcane time. At least, that’s what I think Wills is getting at here.
  • Jim Reeves - Moonlight and Roses 27. “It’s Only a Paper Moon” – Jim Reeves
    Another American songbook classic done up Nashville Sound style. No “honky tonk parade” here, but the lunarcentric album this track comes from, Moonlight and Roses (1964), would be a good one to add to your listening library this month.
  • Steve Holy - Blue Moon 26. “Blue Moon” – Steve Holy
    One of four moderately successful singles from 2000’s Blue Moon, “Blue Moon” showcases Holy’s beautiful falsetto. Too bad he’s all but disappeared from country radio.
  • Rodney Crowell - Crodney Crowell 25. “Shame on the Moon” – Rodney Crowell
    This Crowell-penned tune achieved crossover success when Bob Seger covered it on The Distance in 1982, but we’re partial to the version on Crowell’s eponymous 1981 record. Other recordings of note: Mac Davis, Tanya Tucker.
  • Heather Myles - Rum Rodeo Moon 24. “Indigo Moon” – Heather Myles
    Honkytonk queen Heather Myles is simultaneously tough and vulnerable on this one from Rum & Rodeo. Of course it’s about lost love; in a Myles song, is there any other kind?
  • Raul Malo - The Nashville Acoustic Sessions 23. “Moon River” – Raul Malo
    Malo’s operatic voice was made to cover this Henry Mancini/Johnny Mercer classic.
  • Whiskeytown - Pneumonia 22. “Paper Moon” – Whiskeytown
    Despite the intraband struggles that were no doubt occurring during the recording of Pneumonia, it’s a beautifully crafted album. This is one of the standout tracks.
  • The Seldom Scene - Dream Scene 21. “Bad Moon Rising” – The Seldom Scene
    Numerous country singers have covered this Creedence Clearwater Revival hit, but this bluegrass version is one of the more unique interpretations out there.
  • 20. “Mister Moon” – Carl Smith
    Smith asks for some help setting the mood as he pitches some woo at his “cutie.” He even offers thanks in advance for “helping [their] romance.” What celestial body could refuse such politeness?
  • Randy Travis - Old 8x10 19. “Honky Tonk Moon” – Randy Travis
    Here’s a nice little respite from all these depressing moon songs. This one is peaceful, even happy, thanks to Travis’ instantly recognizable voice singing about one of life’s simple pleasures: dancing with the one you love.
  • 18. “Just Beyond the Moon” – Tex Ritter
    Ritter delivers a lovely story about a couple separated by death after 50 years of marriage. But death doesn’t seem so sad or so scary when you’ve got someone waiting for you: “I’ll just sit there by a star and I’ll watch you from afar/’Til I see you walking toward me someday soon/Then together hand in hand, we’ll find our promised land/And we’ll settle down forever, darlin’, just beyond the moon.”
  • Neko Case - Blacklisted 17. “I Wish I Was the Moon” – Neko Case
    Anyone who’s heard Case sing this minimalist stunner live will never forget it. But for those of you who haven’t made it out to one of her shows, the studio version on seminal country-noir album Blacklisted is a worthy substitute.
  • Bobby Bare - The Moon Was Blue 16. “Shine on Harvest Moon” – Bobby Bare
    This standard was a perfect choice for Bare’s retirement ending 2005 covers album The Moon Was Blue.
  • Trisha Yearwood - The Song Remembers When 15. “Lying to the Moon” – Trisha Yearwood
    This version of Matraca Berg’s song is proof positive that Trisha Yearwood is one of the most incredibly talented singers in the business. Yes, the lyrics are slightly overwrought, but the sheer beauty of Yearwood’s vocal performance makes this one a keeper.
  • K.D. Lang - Absolute Torch and Twant 14. “Full Moon Full of Love” – k.d. lang and The Reclines
    The Canadian chanteuse was far too briefly a country singer. Here lang addresses her lament to an anthropomorphic coyote, who responds “It’s not because I’m sad/That I sing all night long/I’m looking for someone to love/And this is my love song.” Okay, then.
  • 13. “When My Blue Moon Turns to Gold Again” – Wiley Walker & Gene Sullivan
    Everyone’s covered this song (including Cindy Walker, Bill Monroe, Elvis Presley, Clarence “Gatemouth” Brown, and Slim Whitman, just to name a few), and with good reason. Painfully evocative lyrics such as “When my blue moon turns to gold again/You’ll be back in my arms to stay” make this a classic country song.
  • Drive-By Truckers - The Dirty South 12. “Puttin’ People on the Moon” – Drive-By Truckers
    Patterson Hood asks life’s tough questions in this cut from The Dirty South: “And if you say I’m being punished/Ain’t He got better things to do?/Turnin’ mountains into oceans/Puttin’ people on the moon.”
  • Ricky Skaggs - 16 Biggest Hits 11. “Cajun Moon” – Ricky Skaggs
    This country song about a Louisiana hootenanny hit Number One in the U.S. and Canada back in 1986. Son of a gun, there is big fun on the bayou!
  • Tom Russell - The Man From God Knows Where 10. “Throwin’ Horseshoes at the Moon” – Tom Russell
    “My father was a gambler/He threw horseshoes at the moon/He won a million dollars/He lost a million too.” These opening lines are your first hint that “Throwin’ Horseshoes at the Moon” isn’t a happy folk song. But it sure is beautiful. Russell traces the rise and fall of his father’s fortunes, ending with the all important question “How can you be a loser if you never lose your pride?”
  • The Carter Family - 1927-1934 9. “No More the Moon Shines on Lorena” – The Carter Family
    The Carter Family recorded this one in 1930. It’s a tale of love among two plantation slaves, clearly outdated in this age—and with lyrics about “darkie’s chains,” it’s also representative of certain racial attitudes of an earlier America. Despite all this, “No More the Moon Shines on Lorena” is a beautiful song with a compelling story and empathetic vocals from Sara Carter.
  • Willie Nelson - Stardust 8. “Moonlight in Vermont” – Willie Nelson
    A ’40s classic
    Covered on Nelson’s Stardust
    Each verse a haiku

    (Except for the bridge, but mentioning that ruins the above masterpiece).

  • George Strait - Strait Out of the Box 7. “Fly Me to the Moon” – George Strait & Frank Sinatra
    Sinatra’s version of this American songbook classic was played for the Apollo 10 astronauts during their lunar mission. The Commander, Thomas Stafford, is an Oklahoma native, so he’d probably approve of this version too.
  • Buddy Miller - Cruel Moon 6. “Cruel Moon” – Buddy Miller
    The moon is…kind of a bastard, according to Miller: “Oh cruel moon don’t shine on me/You’ll bring me to her memory/Why can’t you leave me in the dark/You never had a broken heart.”
  • Emmylou Harris - Quarter Moon in a Ten Cent Town 5. “Moon Song/How High the Moon/Bad Moon Rising” – Emmylou Harris
    Picking just one Emmylou song for a playlist is a tough decision. Meryl Streep will be making a movie about it any day now, we hear.
  • Dolly Parton - Slow Dancing With the Moon 4. “Slow Dancing with the Moon” – Dolly Parton
    “I’ve lived my life like a lovesick clown/In a bittersweet cartoon.” Clowns are scary as hell. But this is one of our favorite Dolly songs.
  • Hank Williams - Gold 3. “Howlin’ at the Moon” – Hank Williams
    Love sure will make a person crazy. If the lyrics from this 1951 hit are anything to go by, it might also turn you into a werewolf, or just some jackass who’s forgotten how to use silverware.
  • Delmore Brothers - Hillbilly Boogie Best 2. “Southern Moon” – The Delmore Brothers
    Alton and Rabon Delmore are the very definition of brother harmony on this song, right down to the tandem yodels. Charlie and Ira Louvin did a damn fine job with this song on their 1960 record A Tribute to the Delmore Brothers.
  • Bill Monroe - The Very Best of Bill Monroe and His Blue Grass Boys 1. “Blue Moon of Kentucky” – Bill Monroe and His Blue Grass Boys
    Could there be any other choice for the #1 spot on this list? It’s Monroe’s best known song, covered most famously by Elvis, though there’ve been scores of others. The lyrics, however, do raise one important question: is there anybody really magnanimous enough to beg the moon to keep shining on someone who’s “proved untrue”?

3 Pings

  1. [...] you’ve read the news—or our July playlist—you know that 2009 is the 40-year anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing. Also celebrating a [...]
  2. All About the Moon
    June 5, 2012
    [...] 145 at http://www.engine145.com/songs-about-the-moon/ has descriptions and links to 40 top songs about the moon, among them “Blue Moon of Kentucky,” [...]
  3. [...] 40 Songs About the Moon [...]
  1. Hubba
    July 6, 2009 at 10:18 am

    You included AJs “Buicks to the Moon” and that godawful Frank Sinatra garbage and didn’t include “I Don’t Know A Thing About Love” or “Thats Somebody Else’s Moon?”…

  2. numberonecountryfan
    July 6, 2009 at 10:18 am

    What about the perfect moon song: I Don’t Know A Thing About Love The Moon Song by Conway Twitty? That was a #1 for him 25 years ago! Also, what about Michael Johnson’s second #1 hit from 1987, The Moon Is Still Over Her Shoulder? You missed out on two gems right there!

  3. Lee S.
    July 6, 2009 at 10:22 am

    I’d have to add “The Moon over Georgia” by Shenendoah to that list. I like Blake Shelton’s “Underneath the Same Moon” as well, if for no other reason than the chilling instrumentation.

  4. Jon
    July 6, 2009 at 10:28 am

    “Missouri Moon” was written by Rhonda’s fellow Missouran (and sometimes co-writer of mine) Jennifer Strickland, also responsible for several fine cuts (including recent bluegrass chart-topper “I Can Go Back Anytime”) by Carrie Hassler & Hard Rain. I’d say the song draws on Jennifer’s experiences.

    And in the “I can’t believe you left it off the list” department, there’s the outstanding “I Saw Your Face In The Moon,” recorded several times by the great Mac Wiseman; search on the title at YouTube and you can see an excellent performance thereof.

  5. Nicolas
    July 6, 2009 at 11:03 am

    No love for Julianne Hough’s “Dreaming Under the Same Moon”? =D

  6. Michael
    July 6, 2009 at 11:24 am

    Hah! I loved the blurbs for the Alan Jackson and Dolly songs. Trisha’s is definitely my favorite. And one more that comes to mind is John Anderson’s “Mississippi Moon”.

  7. Rick
    July 6, 2009 at 11:27 am

    Mandy Barnett’s cover of the pop classic “Dark Moon” on the soundtrack from “Traveler” is pretty darn good as well. Canadian Tim Tamashiro’s “Under The Berry Moon” is also a fun little ditty.

    Moon songs are alright, but my favorite “celestial body” song by far is Mary Chapin Carpenter’s “When Halley Came To Jackson”. A perferct mix of the joyous and poignant sides of life which gives me goosebumps every time I listen. A truly amazing song.

  8. Razor X
    July 6, 2009 at 12:09 pm

    Let’s not forget Conway Twitty’s “I Don’t Know A Thing About Love (The Moon Song)”.

  9. Brad
    July 6, 2009 at 12:40 pm

    Have to join the chorus of folks looking for that Conway song on this list. I’d also throw in Jack Ingram’s cover of Will Kimbrough’s “Goodnight Moon” from Ingram’s landmark Frank Liddell produced Electric album.

  10. JD
    July 6, 2009 at 1:36 pm

    Quarter Moon in a Ten Cent Town…. Emmylou
    Even the Man in the Moon is Crying… Mark Collie
    Blue Moon… Mavericks

  11. Razor X
    July 6, 2009 at 1:44 pm

    Quarter Moon in a Ten Cent Town…. Emmylou

    That isn’t a song. It’s a line from the song “Easy From Now On” and the title of the album from which that song came.

  12. Mike
    July 6, 2009 at 2:38 pm

    Goodnight Moon by Jack Ingram. This is probably his most famous song before he hit it big and still a show stopper in concert.

  13. Truersound
    July 6, 2009 at 2:49 pm

    Roger Miller – The Moon Is High (And So Am I)

  14. JD
    July 6, 2009 at 3:43 pm

    Hey Razor X…. That’s the one. I knew someone would catch that

    How about: “How High the Moon” by Emmylou?

  15. JD
    July 6, 2009 at 3:46 pm

    Neon Moon by Brooks’n’Dunn

  16. Drew
    July 6, 2009 at 3:53 pm

    I really love Dean Brody’s “Up On The Moon”… probably one of my favorite recent album cuts.

  17. Erik
    July 6, 2009 at 4:03 pm

    “The Moon, The Stars And Me” – Dolly Parton
    “Once In A Very Blue Moon” – Nancy Griffith
    “Nothin’ New Under The Moon” – LeAnn Rimes

    Those are my favorites that haven’t already been mentioned.

  18. Lewis
    July 6, 2009 at 4:13 pm

    How about Shenandoah’s “The Moon Over Georgia”?

  19. Rick
    July 6, 2009 at 4:17 pm

    Re: Blue Moon of Kentucky – This is the one and only song Elvis Presley ever got to sing on The Grand Ole Opry stage. Although the Opry establishment didn’t appreciate Elvis’ rockabilly stylings, Bill Monroe was stageside nodding in approval during the performance.

    This song has been covered by countless artists but one of my favorite versions is by Tom Petty on the “Good Rockin’ Tonight” SUN Records tribute album. Its always fun to see the reaction from Petty fans when they hear that cut for the first time.

  20. J.R. Journey
    July 6, 2009 at 6:27 pm

    I’ll echo that Conway Twitty’s ‘I Don’t Know A Thing About Love’ is my favorite ‘moon song’.

  21. Brian
    July 6, 2009 at 7:29 pm

    Neon Moon by Brooks and Dunn is a huge omission. Hard to even do the list without it.

  22. Razor X
    July 6, 2009 at 8:17 pm

    How about: “How High the Moon” by Emmylou?

    Good one.

  23. Juli
    July 6, 2009 at 9:17 pm

    “How High the Moon”–and a couple other Emmylou songs–made the Top 5, y’all.

  24. Ron
    July 6, 2009 at 10:48 pm

    Throwin’ Rocks at the Moon – The Backsliders

  25. Jim Malec
    July 7, 2009 at 4:32 am

    Except that “Neon Moon” isn’t actually about the moon.

  26. JD
    July 7, 2009 at 8:14 am

    JULI: “How High the Moon”–and a couple other Emmylou songs–made the Top 5, y’all.”

    I see it now. As they say in the horse racing world, you snuck it in as a “field entry” with 2 others ….

  27. Brian
    July 7, 2009 at 7:37 pm

    Jim Malec: Really? That’s your opposing rationale? A bunch of those songs are not about the moon, rather using it in some analogy to get across the larger point of the song. Same thing the Brooks and Dunn song does, and it’s a far better song than almost half that list.

  28. Melissa
    July 7, 2009 at 8:19 pm

    My favorite song of all time “Hypnotize the Moon” by Clay Walker

  29. Jon
    July 7, 2009 at 9:18 pm

    Gotta go with Jim as far as “Neon Moon” is concerned. It’s a great song, whether they’re about it or use it as an image or analogy, the songs in Juli’s list refer to the moon that orbits the earth, while “Neon Moon” doesn’t.

  30. Mark
    July 8, 2009 at 3:52 am

    What about Don Willliams Yellow Moon

  31. JD
    July 8, 2009 at 3:27 pm

    Jeeez,,,,,now we’ve got a Jon-Jim lovefest in the making….

  32. Brian
    July 8, 2009 at 9:53 pm

    Jon: Jim’s counter-argument was that the Brooks and Dunn song was not about the moon. Buicks to the Moon is not about the moon either. It’s a love song that describes all the things that would happen before he would stop loving her. It’s not literally about the moon. A majority of those songs are not about the moon.

  33. chris
    July 9, 2009 at 8:29 pm

    Cornbread Moon from Joe Ely’s “Honky Tonk Masquerade”

    Moon Song (written by Patty Griffin) from Emmy Lou Harris’ “All I Intended To Be”

  34. Rudi
    July 14, 2009 at 6:36 pm

    I don’t totally understand the song, but it is sung so beautifully it is mesmerizing- “The Moon is a Harsh Mistress” written by Jimmy Webb sung by Linda Ronstadt.

  35. Jammin' Jamey
    July 16, 2009 at 1:00 pm

    Moon over Georgia by Shenandoah and Talkin to the Moon by the Gatlin Brothers left off this list…I’m losing my confidence in you guys.

  36. David B
    July 30, 2009 at 11:47 am

    First “Moon Song” I think of is “I Don’t Know A Thing About Love (The Moon Song)”, by Conway. It’s not even on the list..geez…

  37. Ollie
    August 27, 2009 at 10:15 am

    I also love “Moon Song,” which Emmylou Harris recorded for her most recent album, All I Intended to Be. (My favorite version is still the one by the composer, the great Patty Griffin.)

  38. travis in virginia
    August 29, 2009 at 3:11 pm

    Omg! How could everyone overlook the best moon song ever? Rosanne cash’s “Blue moon with heartach”. That song is one of the best sad songs of all time. Plus u forgot patty loveless’s “Mr. Man in the moon” from her only what I feel album.

  39. #1
    September 3, 2009 at 10:37 am

    to leave off clay walker hypnotize the moon is an egregious oversight

  40. Steve from Boston
    September 4, 2009 at 9:39 pm

    Travis, Patty’s “Mr. Man in the Moon” is a gem, love it. Has a certain torchy, dream-like feel to it.

    I agree with the choice of Bill Monroe’s ole standard “Blue Moon of Kentucky” for #1

  41. Jodi
    May 6, 2010 at 9:45 am

    Here’s a few more…Moonlight Sonata, Moondance-Morrison, Moon River-P.Como, and Paper Moon.

  42. Karen
    November 14, 2010 at 9:04 am

    I’m pulling this up a year later, and saw your comment regarding Emmylou Harris and Meryl Streep. Well, “any day now” has come and gone, and still no news of a movie, or project of any sort. Do you know any more about this?

  43. F
    March 19, 2011 at 11:05 am

    “Spanish Moon” by Little Feat
    “Yellow Moon” by The Neville Bros.
    “Bad Moon A’Risin'” by Creedance Clearwater Revival

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