Lunar Eclipses, Mike Oldfield and “Moonlight Shadow”

Since discovering that all full moons have a name (given to them by the Native Americans who kept track of the months by the lunar calendar), I have written about each one as they appear in our skies. To accompany the post I always include one of the numerous songs that have been written about the moon and its many foibles.

Well, this is a first for me, I’m writing a blog post whilst actually on holiday (more of that next week) but as a full moon is due to appear in our skies on Friday it can’t really wait until I get home. This month it’s called the Buck Moon, because it’s the time of year we all run around our gardens buck naked! No…., only joking…., although probably warm enough if you feel so inclined but it got that name because it’s when a buck’s antlers are in full “growth mode”. As someone who lives next to a forest full of deer who come down into our gardens at night and occasionally eat all the plants, I should be an expert, but here’s the thing – In the 20 years we’ve lived beside the forest I’ve never seen one, just the little hoof prints left as evidence in the flower beds the next morning. One of these days however I will be lucky enough to catch one in the act which really would be quite something, and well worth the sacrifice of a few plants.

Another reason for the early alert is because this next full moon will also be a blood moon. Yes, for the second time this year there is going to be a lunar eclipse and in certain parts of the world the moon will turn a red-orange colour for a full 1 hour 43 minutes (I am reliably informed). Yet again however, we here in the UK are unlikely to see it in totality, but if you look south-easterly from around 8.45pm (a bit later if like me you live in Scotland), there should be a definite reddish tinge to the moon.

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Mike Oldfield

But this is a music blog so which song should accompany this particular moon-related post? Last time we had a lunar eclipse I chose Moonshadow by Cat Stevens but as was pointed out at the time I could also have used Moonlight Shadow by Mike (Tubular Bells) Oldfield. I have always liked this 1983 song, not least because it gallops along at a fair old rate, rising and falling in exactly the places you expect it to, the vocals excellently performed by Maggie Reilly who frequently collaborated with Mike. The subject matter is not a happy one however, the song being about a woman whose lover is violently killed in the middle of the night. There was speculation at the time that Mike was referring to the shooting of John Lennon in the lyrics but he said no, although he had been in the vicinity at the time so it may well have entered his subconscious.

Moonlight Shadow by Mike Oldfield featuring Maggie Reilly:

All this talk of moonlight, shadows and deer however has reminded me of something. Like most parents, I read to DD every night at bedtime for many, many years and needless to say we had our favourite books. I suppose it makes sense, but quite a few of our favourites were set during the night-time. There was Owl Babies by Martin Waddell and Shadow the Deer by Theresa Radcliffe and John Butler. I can’t quite remember now if Shadow did indeed visit suburban gardens and eat all their plants (probably not), but I do remember that the illustrations were beautiful, full of forest locations basking in the moonlight.

Shadow

I am hopeful we in the UK will catch a glimpse of the lunar eclipse on Friday, the proviso always being that there is no cloud cover. And, as it is the buck moon, a bit of running around buck naked wouldn’t go amiss either, although if we did partake there might well be a few bemused deer looking on, from the safety of their forest high up on the hill!

Only three more moons in this series to go before we will have covered all twelve named by the Native Americans, eons ago. I’m pretty sure I know which “moon songs” I still want to include but if you have any favourites not yet mentioned, please let me know as I feel sure there will have to be a “mopping-up” post done right at the end. You know where the comments boxes are.

Until next time, enjoy that lunar eclipse.

Moonlight Shadow Lyrics
(Song by Mike Oldfield)

The last time ever she saw him
Carried away by a moonlight shadow
He passed on worried and warning
Carried away by a moonlight shadow.
Lost in a riddle that Saturday night
Far away on the other side.
He was caught in the middle of a desperate fight
And she couldn’t find how to push through

The trees that whisper in the evening
Carried away by a moonlight shadow
Sing a song of sorrow and grieving
Carried away by a moonlight shadow
All she saw was a silhouette of a gun
Far away on the other side.
He was shot six times by a man on the run
And she couldn’t find how to push through

I stay, I pray
See you in Heaven far away…
I stay, I pray
See you in Heaven one day.

Four A.M. in the morning
Carried away by a moonlight shadow
I watched your vision forming
Carried away by a moonlight shadow
A star was glowing in the silvery night
Far away on the other side
Will you come to talk to me this night
But she couldn’t find how to push through

I stay, I pray
See you in Heaven far away…
I stay, I pray
See you in Heaven one day.

Far away on the other side.
Caught in the middle of a hundred and five
The night was heavy and the air was alive
But she couldn’t find how to push through
Carried away by a moonlight shadow
Carried away by a moonlight shadow
Far away on the other side.

Postscript:

Well that was a bit of a damp squib wasn’t it. After weeks of sunshine and clear skies, here in the UK there was almost total cloud cover and a fair few thunderstorms on Friday night, so few, if any of us, got to see the lunar eclipse. Thankfully there were plenty of people out with their camera equipment taking shots of the moon globally, so at least we get a chance to see what it would have looked like if the rain gods hadn’t frowned upon us.

Around the world in pictures, courtesy of The Guardian.

Ironically the alternative name for this July full moon is the Thunder Moon as it tends to be the time of the year when thunderstorms are frequent. Didn’t let us down did it?

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Author: Alyson

Whenever I hear an old song on the radio, I am immediately transported back to those days - I know I'm not alone here and want to record those memories for myself and for the people in them. 50 years ago the song "Alfie" was written by my favourite songwriting team Bacharach and David - The opening line to that song was "What's it all about?" and I'm hoping that by writing this blog, I might find the answer to that question.

23 thoughts on “Lunar Eclipses, Mike Oldfield and “Moonlight Shadow””

  1. Twelve-month-long blog projects are a joy, and this one is no exception. The extra planning and dedication needed is more than repaid by the opportunity to look at things in more depth. I’m thoroughly enjoying the journey through the moons. Whilst not particularly well known, Emerson, Lake and Palmer’s ‘Black Moon’ would be on my list. It came out just after the first Gulf War, which may have influenced the environmental slant of the song.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It has been a great series and I’ve learnt so much. Just so many songs about the moon, understandably I think, so I was never going to run out. Thanks for the suggestion – will give it a listen.

      Dropped by your blog earlier and loved all the recent posts, especially the ones written about your holiday in the Cairngorms. I made a little film recently of our visit to the area and shared it in a blog post: https://jukeboxtimemachine.com/2018/07/10/the-cairngorms-big-country-and-heatwaves-in-scotland/

      Thanks for dropping by.

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      1. I did see that lovely piece of film, but in the immediate post-holiday aftermath was struggling to keep up with correspondence. There’s also some Glen Lui footage (on my phone) which I need to melge into shape, thank you for the reminder!

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Always loved the song but never really paid much attention to the lyrics. I know, that will surprise you! Thanks for the insight.

    Sam likes Owl Babies a lot so I will have to try to track down Shadow of the Deer.

    Even though I live in close proximity to Deer Hill, there aren’t a lot of deer round here. There is one wild one that I thought was a bit of a legend until I saw it leap over a 6 foot wall into a field next to our old house. No idea where it lays it’s hat though.

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    1. Gosh Owl Babies is still a favourite all these years on – I shed a little tear every time [spoiler alert] the mother returned back to the nest. Shadow The Deer more a picture book I seem to remember but when writing about all of the above, it came to mind. I’m guessing you probably all go on bear hunts every now and again too!

      As for the deer in my forest, everyone has seen them except me – One even nudged a neighbour out of the way the other day whilst they were standing at the Fish Van to get a better look! Don’t think they even eat fish but they were obviously curious.

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  3. I’ve been looking forward to the lunar eclipse and looking out for your post on it – read about it being a blood moon but not a buck moon – I think we should celebrate that nationally now and all go running out there in the nude, there has never been a better time than the midst of this heatwave to shed the bonds of our clothes, surely! I am painting in my very very hot Shedio at the moment in my undies and an apron, I recommend it 🙂
    Great to see so much love here for Owl Babies. I attended a talk once by its author Martin Waddell which was really good too. Classically illustrated children’s books in traditional media are not very fashionable at the moment but are so beautiful and timeless and it’s interesting how long they linger in our memories. I must check out Shadow The Deer just to immerse myself in that whole feel – and as it happens have a future blog post lined up (when I can actually write it!) which is not so far removed either. Hope you get to see your deer and can share some pics if/when you do. None around here at the moment but amazingly I saw a mole running down garden path the other day – the first time I’ve ever seen a live one above ground. I say ‘running’ – it certainly had a good speed – but I could see its feet were sort of flailing like a penguin, not being used to a hard surface. Poor thing, I hope it found some earth soft enough to burrow into.
    Hope you’re enjoying your hols and managing to stay cool….. apparently it’s heading for around 35 degrees here tomorrow and I may turn into a formless sticky blob before the day is out

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m really looking forward to the eclipse as well and will be back home by then so will be easier to spot. I only hope this thunder and lightning that’s being threatened for tomorrow doesn’t spoil it. It’s certainly been a lovely hot summer so far (definitely going to rival 1976) but like you I find it starts to get uncomfortable as just too hot to work (not resorted to undies yet but been in shorts for about the last 6 weeks). Don’t think we’ve had it anywhere near as hot as you over the last couple of weeks but now that I have a suntan it’s time for some rain again I think. Others will no doubt disagree but the poor farmers are having a right time of it.

      Owl Babies is great isn’t it – I really can’t remember much about Shadow The Deer now and it came in a bundle from a friend whose children had outgrown it but beautiful illustrations. Shame they’ve gone out of favour – Of course I’d love to know where your work appears but we are good at keeping our professional lives separate here so understand why you can’t share that. One day!

      I live in hope that I’ll see our deer some day (will have to set the alarm for 5am and just stand at the window until one appears) – I’ve never seen a mole either above ground, just lots of mole hills. We did see a “creature” in front of the restaurant we were eating in the other night and it was so cute I filmed it. Struck panic into the restaurant owner however so I had to delete it in front of him. I would never have shared it but wouldn’t be good for his restaurant if it went viral!

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      1. Haha, love that about your footage of the “creature”….
        Moley is back, I actually saw the earth move yesterday and could hear him below the surface! I was happy to leave him be, especially now I that I can put a face to the name 🙂

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    1. I don’t think the pinkness was to do the eclipse as a bit too early – Probably haze or something with all this heat. Should be something to see tomorrow evening though from around quarter to nine.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. No I don’t think you will see any of it over in the US – As it turns out I don’t think I’m going to see it either. As I type the clouds are darkening and a thunderstorm is being predicted. If I do catch anything of it I’ll add a picture as a postscript – cross fingers I will.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Yet again Philip you are introducing me to someone I hadn’t heard of before – Looked him up and it sounds as if he influenced quite a lot of people. He might be included in the final mop-up post of all the moon-related songs and artists so far omitted in this series.

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  4. Hi. I have a technical question.
    With my musical stories I often include YouTube videos. But readers in some countries can’t open those videos, for licensing reasons or some other reason. I don’t understand what that’s all about.

    Anyway, on your story here, underneath the Mike Oldfield video from the Vevo company, there is a narrow object that you can click on to play the Oldfield song. What is that narrow object? Where did you find it and how did you place it into your story?

    Maybe I can do something similar instead of using YouTube videos.

    Thanks very much.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi there – I think you must be on the same Premium Plan as myself so it should be easy. I too got a bit worried that the videos don’t always work and sometime become obsolete on YouTube so went for the belt and braces approach. I insert the video and then underneath I insert an mp3 music file (that’s what forms the little black bar). I see you often upload pictures. You can upload music files in just the same way, you just click on the plus, then find the file on your computer. If you have music files saved in mp3 format they will play on both PCs and Macs but if you have them saved as m4a clips (most are nowadays) they will only play on Apple products. Easy enough to convert them however – google how to do it.

      Hope this helps? I add the title above the black bar myself – just type it in above the line of code. Once published it all looks fine.

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      1. Thanks. I don’t have the Premium Plan, but maybe you don’t have to have it in order to do the things you mention. In any case, I’m not a techno whiz, but I’ll play around and see what happens. I appreciate your help a lot. Many thanks.

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  5. Moonlight Shadow is a lovely ethereal tune and Mike’s guitar is as twisted and inventive as ever. Maggie belts it out great guns. It rips along at a fine pace. But it’s the “4 A M…. IN THE MORNING” line which gets me angry every time I hear it. Who would write that? “4 A M” – it is self-evident it is “in the morning”. The “A M” should tell us all that straightaway. I have tried to re-imagine the lyric as “4-Oh-Clock… in the morning” which pretty much scans and almost works but the short “Oh” sound and hard ending to “clock” jars the flow of the line. So I DO understand why Mike and Maggie went with the lyric they did… but it still hurts my ears even after thirty-odd years. Unforgiven.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Glad you like it – As you say it rips along at a fair old pace and kind of reminds me of Steeleye Span from a few years earlier. As for that line of lyric, we all have these gripes don’t we but as Maurice White from Earth Wind and Fire said when asked why he chose the month of September for his song, no other reason that that it was “phonetically fantastic”. Yes often have to go with a substitution just so that it works, phonetically.

      As for other lyrics that hurt the ears, listened to I’ve Never Been To Me recently and in it, the singer quotes: Nice (the city in France), and the Isle of Greece – There is no Isle of Greece but it was the only way it was going to fit!

      Thanks for dropping by.

      Like

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