Tin Pan Alley, Leon Redbone and “Shine On Harvest Moon”

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, I thought I was done with “moon posts” as I had kind of run out of familiar moon-related songs, but we had a beautiful Harvest Moon in our skies this last weekend and it made me want to revisit this series. I wrote about the Harvest Moon last year and shared the Neil Young song of the same name (link here) but I have discovered another relevant song, which I think, deserves to be featured.

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First of all a bit of trivia – The Harvest Moon can occur in either September or October, as it’s the name given to the full moon that lands closest to the autumnal equinox. This year we shall reach the equinox, that pivot point in the year after which we can expect more hours of darkness than light in our days, on Monday the 23rd Sept. If it hadn’t landed that way, the full moon would have been called the Corn Moon. A second foible of this month’s full moon was that it was at apogee, the most distant point in its elliptical orbit around Earth, so was called a “mini moon”.  Apparently it should have seemed a bit dimmer than usual, but when I looked out the back door on Saturday night it seemed anything but. Here is my own picture taken quickly on my phone, so not a brilliant image, but if you were lucky enough to see it in person you will probably agree it was a bobby-dazzler!

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The Harvest Moon

But back to the song, after doing a bit of googling and YouTubing (another new verb), I found this great clip where Leon Redbone, who sadly died earlier on this year, performs Shine On Harvest Moon. Mr Redbone was a new find for me, but I do love his quirky delivery and very unique style. He specialised in jazz, blues and Tin Pan Alley classics such as this one, and his signature style was the panama hat, dark glasses and black tie. Of Armenian origin, he was born in Cyprus but then moved with his family first to London and then Canada where he began performing in public at Toronto nightclubs and folk festivals. After a mention from Bob Dylan in an early ’70s interview, he was featured in Rolling Stone magazine, a full year before he had a recording contract. He died in May this year at the very young (from where I’m sitting) sounding age of 69.

Shine On Harvest Moon by Leon Redbone:

The song Shine On Harvest Moon was written way back in the early 1900s and credited to the married vaudeville team of Nora Hayes and Jack Norworth. It was one of a series of moon-related Tin Pan Alley songs from the era and debuted in the Ziegfeld Follies of 1908 to great acclaim, later becoming a popular standard.

It occurred to me that although I have often heard the term Tin Pan Alley used, I have never really taken the time to investigate whether it is/was an actual place. It seems it was, although not called that in reality, but simply the section of West 28th Street in Manhattan, between Fifth and Sixth Avenues, where a number of music publishers set up shop from 1885 onward. Once the phonograph, radio, and motion pictures took over from sheet music as the driving force behind American popular music, Tin Pan Alley lost out in importance, and with the rise of rock & roll, the Brill Building became the new home for music industry offices and studios. Some of the most popular American songs of the late ’50s/early ’60s were written in the Brill Building and it is considered to have been the centre of the American music industry at that time.

So, “What’s It All About?” – Didn’t think I’d return with another “moon-post” but still some new things to discover about our only satellite and still a Corn Moon to write about at some point as that’s the only one to date that has been omitted entirely – All down to the timing of the Autumnal Equinox it seems. With a lunar cycle that is shorter than the average calendar month though, I’ll get there in the end.

As for Leon Redbone, what a fine new discovery to have made, but such a shame it had to be just after his death.

RIP Leon.

Shine On Harvest Moon Lyrics
(Song by Nora Bayes/Jack Norworth)

The night was mighty dark so you could hardly see, cause the moon refused to shine
There’s a couple sittin ‘neath the willow tree, for love, they pine
Little maid was kinda ‘fraid of darkness, so she said I think I’ll go
Boy began to sigh, looked up in the sky and told the moon his little tale of woe, oh

Shine on, shine on harvest moon up in the sky
I ain’t had no lovin’ since January, February, June, or July
Snow time ain’t no time to sit outdoors and spoon
Shine on, shine on harvest moon for me ‘n’ my gal

Shine on harvest moon way up there in the sky
I ain’t had no lovin’ since January, February, June, AND July? Now, looka
Snow Time ain’t time no time to stay outdoors and spoon
So shine on Harvest moon

The night was mighty dark so you could hardly see, cause the moon refused to shine
There’s a couple sittin ‘neath the willow tree, for love, they pine
Little maid was kinda ‘fraid of darkness, so she said I think I’ll go
Boy began to sigh, looked up in the sky and told the moon his little tale of woe, oh

Shine on, shine on harvest moon(shine on, shine on) Up in the sky?
I ain’t had no lovin’ since January, February, June, or July
Snow Time ain’t no time to stay outdoors and spoon
So shine on, shine on harvest moon for me ‘n’ my gal, for me ‘n my gal

A Manic Summer, 50th Anniversaries and “Dancing In The Moonlight”

What’s it all about indeed – I seem to have lost my blogging momentum, that’s what, due to the fact there is just far too much to blog about at the moment and I can’t keep up! Although this place is ostensibly where I have a saunter down memory lane, revisiting the “tracks of my years”, it is also my web-log, or web diary, where I record what I’ve been up to, ponder on what’s happening in the world (rather a lot!) and post pictures taken whilst out and about.

I am still gutted that I missed writing a “moon post” on the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing, as between Nov ’17 and March ’19 I wrote a total of eighteen posts featuring a song inspired by the ancient name given to the full moon by the Native Americans. Most of the time the song referred to the beauty of the moon, the colour of the moon or its part in creating a setting for romance, but on the 20th of July 1969, it was all about the science. When Neil Armstrong made that small step for [a] man, his name in the history books was set in stone (or moondust).

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I watched much of the news footage between the 16th and the 20th of this month, where Michael Collins (the astronaut who didn’t get to walk on the moon) was present at the anniversary celebrations and gave some great interviews recounting their experiences. On television, some fabulous programmes were aired, and if you haven’t yet watched it I would thoroughly recommend Channel 4’s Moon Landing Live made up of original footage from 50 years ago. I was only aged nine back then so despite being really excited by the news stories of the launch and subsequent moon landing, I don’t think I would have appreciated the sheer significance of what was happening. Also, what did all those men dressed in identical white shirts and black ties do at Mission Control? Something a few kilobytes of computer fire power could probably do nowadays, but just makes it all the more impressive that in those far less technologically advanced days, it could happen at all. Poor old Lyndon B. is looking a bit hot and bothered in this clip but had it not been for this famous speech, and the statement made at 1:30, things might well have turned out differently. (Anyone else transfixed by JFK’s accent here? – Mixture of Boston-Irish, Trans-Atlantic, RP and pure Kennedy apparently.)

Coincidentally, a partial lunar eclipse took place in the UK on the 16th of July 2019, coinciding with the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 launch and despite missing it last time, my friend with the perfect camera for such shots, managed to capture it.

Pictures courtesy of R.J.

Considering this post was going to be a summary of what I’d missed blogging about over the last fortnight – DD’s departure, trips to Edinburgh and Glasgow, a steady stream of guests in the holiday hideaway and my elevation to Superhost, my continuing “pain in the neck”, two more cinema visits, Mr WIAA’s stint as zoo-keeper for a day and resignation from his nice secure job (purely coincidental), the current heatwave, the new occupant of No. 10, a long lost cousin from Australia appearing with a full account of my paternal family tree, the “loft project” and the anniversary of those moon landings – I only seem to have touched on this last one it seems, but apt because of what has gone before I suppose. I will therefore include two moon-related songs, the first being a suggestion made by Brian from Linear Tracking Lives, and the second, one that just didn’t make the cut whilst the series was in full flow.

Swingin’ on the Moon was a 1960 album by Mel Tormé (with a great cover), where every track but one contained the word “moon” in the title. The moon certainly seemed to be a favourite theme for artists of a Swing/Vocal Jazz persuasion, as Mr Sinatra also recorded many such songs. Mel was probably more familiar to our friends across the pond, as he also appeared in many films and television shows in America from the 1940s onward. Here’s an interesting snippet, he apparently composed the music for seasonal favourite The Christmas Song (Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire) and co-wrote the lyrics. Not a bad earner in terms of royalties that one.

My next pick is a song that features dancing in the moonlight, which is a fine pastime I imagine if you live in a country where it is warm enough to do so. I don’t (current heatwave aside), but I still like the idea of it. The band Toploader had a big hit with a cover of Dancing in the Moonlight in the year 2000. I always loved the intro to this song (great percussion) but didn’t realise at the time it had been written and originally recorded by the French-American rock group King Harvest. It was released as a single in 1972 and reached number 13 on the Billboard Hot 100. In view of the fact I recently discovered the band Looking Glass, who look and sound very similar to King Harvest, not much wonder it is now my favourite version of the two.

Dancing In The Moonlight by Toploader:

So, “What’s It All About?” – I don’t think I knew what I was going to end up writing about when I sat down at my desk today, but nice to be back, and I’ll try to keep up the momentum now I’ve cleared the blockage, so to speak.

Two years ago I had a very distinct routine to my day and to my week, but with all the changes that have happened since then every day is now different, with no discernible routine at all. The biggest change is that we will now have to earn all the spondulicks from self-employment alone and Mr WIAA is trying to be the calm one, whereas I’m running around like Corporal Jones shouting, “Don’t panic!”. Can I justify putting as many hours into blogging when I should really be trying to earn a crust? Probably not, but as has been pointed out around here many times, it does serve as a great stress-buster. I suspect I won’t be going anywhere soon, and to those of you who came up with a number from the master spreadsheet of “posts pending”, I have not forgotten about you, I have just been distracted.

Until next time….

Dancing In The Moonlight Lyrics
(Song by Sherman Kelly)

We get it on most every night
When that moon is big and bright
It’s a supernatural delight
Everybody’s dancing in the moonlight

Everybody here is out of sight
They don’t bark and they don’t bite
They keep things loose, they keep things light
Everybody’s dancing in the moonlight

Dancing in the moonlight
Everybody’s feeling warm and bright
It’s such a fine and natural sight
Everybody’s dancing in the moonlight

We like our fun and we never fight
You can’t dance and stay uptight
It’s a supernatural delight
Everybody was dancing in the moonlight

Dancing in the moonlight
Everybody’s feeling warm and bright
It’s such a fine and natural sight
Everybody’s dancing in the moonlight

Everybody here is out of sight
They don’t bark and they don’t bite
They keep things loose, they keep things light
Everybody was dancing in the moonlight

Everybody’s dancing in the moonlight
Everybody’s feeling warm and bright
It’s such a fine and natural sight
Everybody’s dancing in the moonlight (everybody)
Dancing in the moonlight
Everybody’s feeling warm and bright
It’s such a fine and natural sight
Everybody’s dancing in the moonlight
Everybody’s dancing in the moonlight
Everybody’s feeling warm and bright
It’s such a fine and natural sight
Everybody’s dancing in the moonlight (everybody)
Dancing in the moonlight
Everybody’s feeling warm and bright
It’s such a fine and natural sight
Everybody’s dancing in the moonlight

The Sugar Moon, Doris Day and The Golden Age of Hollywood

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.

To be honest I didn’t think I was going to write any more “moon posts” as I think I’ve  clocked up 17 now, and have had to start using the alternate name for the full moon. Also, most of my favourite moon-related songs have been written about now, so starting to scrape the bottom of the barrel a bit.

This week however, I had a really pleasurable afternoon with a number of ladies who suffer from dementia, and it reminded me there are a few more songs I had intended to include at some point but just not got round to yet, as definitely not from the “cool” camp at all. Appropriately, the March full moon which appeared so spectacularly in our skies last night, is also known as the Sugar Moon, because this is the time of year when the sugar maples of Nova Scotia are starting to produce sap. Appropriate because the songs that are going to be featured here, are sugary sweet indeed.

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The Sugar Moon

But back to my story. I arrived at my mum’s care home on Tuesday afternoon only to find her watching a film in the home’s very swish inhouse cinema. This room was no doubt set up with the best of intentions, but sadly most of the residents are either too physically infirm to make use of it, or in the case of the dementia sufferers, no longer have the concentration needed to sit through a long film. (We won’t mention the “comfort break” issue, but definitely also a problem.)

On Tuesday afternoon however, there were about five of them watching Calamity Jane starring Doris Day. When I say watching, they were definitely flagging when I arrived, and the carer who was with them was on the verge of abandoning the viewing. “No way”, I thought, this could be a lot more fun than our usual visits where the conversation is tricky to put it mildly. As a great fan of old movies, I knew a lot of the background to Calamity Jane (not least that the Hollywood-ised version was nothing like the life of the real Martha Jane Cannary), so we continued to watch it with me giving a running commentary about the actors, the state it was set in, the storyline and the songs. Of course when you’re in an honest to goodness cinema where actual cash changes hands for a ticket, this is impossible, or very rude at any rate, but in the care home it works well.

The songs from Calamity Jane are standards now, and most of us of a certain age know them well. One of the foibles of dementia is that you don’t remember what you had for breakfast but you remember all the words to old songs, and fortunately most of the ladies in the room were in that position. My mum still has a good singing voice so we all enjoyed singing along to The Deadwood Stage (Whip-Crack-Away!), Just Blew in from the Windy City, The Black Hills of Dakota and best of all, Secret Love. We had a rare old afternoon and I’ve offered to come in next time they plan to show a film – Fingers crossed it’s one I know just as well.

Doris Day (born Doris Mary Ann Kappelhoff) is still with us today, and is about to turn 97 in April (possibly due to her rewarding work as an animal welfare activist – good for body and soul). She recorded more than 650 songs from 1947 to 1967, which made her one of the most popular singers of the 20th century. Her film career began during the latter part of the Classical Hollywood Film Era and she starred in a series of successful films, including musicals, comedies, and dramas. Some of her most successful films were the “bedroom comedies” she made co-starring Rock Hudson and James Garner. Among her awards, Doris received a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award and was given the Cecil B. DeMille Award for lifetime achievement in motion pictures.

In 1951 Doris starred in the film On Moonlight Bay with Gordon MacRae. It was so successful, a sequel was made in 1953 called By The Light of the Silvery Moon. Of course there were songs of the same name to accompany the films, and to celebrate the sighting of the Sugar Moon, they are my featured songs for this post. They don’t make ’em like this any more.

Until next time….

On Moonlight Bay Lyrics
(Song by Percy Wenrich/Edward Madden)

We were sailing along on Moonlight Bay
We could hear the voices ringing
They seemed to say
“You have stolen her heart”
“Now don’t go ‘way”
As we sang love’s old sweet song on Moonlight Bay

We were sailing along on Moonlight Bay
We could hear the voices ringing
They seemed to say
“You have stolen her heart”
“Now don’t go ‘way”
As we sang love’s old sweet song on Moonlight Bay

We were sailing along on Moonlight Bay
We could hear the voices ringing
They seemed to say
“You have stolen her heart” (You have stolen her heart)
“Now don’t go ‘way”
As we sang love’s old sweet song on Moonlight Bay
(Sailing through the moonlight on Moonlight Bay)

Postscript:

I seem to be unusually productive this week in terms of my blogging output. That would be because I have an academic essay to hand in on Friday for my college course, and I seem to be doing everything I can to avoid completing it. Thought I would find it all a bit easier second time around but it turns out students will be students, whatever their age.

Before I buckle down to finishing my essay (that would be 80% of it), I think we should have another look at Doris playing Calamity Jane. She was a right wee bundle of energy and it certainly worked wonders this week in terms of raising my spirits. Hopefully it will raise yours too.

Willie Nelson, Moonlight in Vermont and Snow (Or Rather, the Lack of It)

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.

I can scarcely believe it’s been four weeks since my last “moon post”. What is it with time? The older you get, the faster it seems to whizz by. I heard a great quote recently, where the phenomena was described as such: “Life is like a roll of toilet paper. The closer it gets to the end, the faster it goes.” How apt I thought.

Anyway, it is now nearly a month since we witnessed (or didn’t in my case) January’s lunar eclipse. This month, we should witness the Snow Moon on the night of the 19th February. I had intended to use the alternate names for the full moon this year, however last year, because of the 29 and a half day lunar cycle, we didn’t have a full moon in February at all. Instead, we ended up with two Blue Moons (a second full moon in the same calendar month) on either side. As I said at the start of this series, no two years will ever be the same.

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The Snow Moon

As it turns out, there has been very little snow in town this winter at all. In fact, there have been many crisp clear days and beautiful starry nights. Last month, around the time of the full moon, a local photographer posted some of his pictures on social media, and I liked this one so much I asked him if I could use it in my blog. I thought it made the town look really quite romantic, which is just what we need to attract visitors to the place. I have now been the proud owner of a holiday hideaway for a week now, and although I’m another few weeks away from launching Alyson’s Highland Adventures (don’t worry, that name is merely a work in progress), I am getting really excited about the forthcoming season.

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A full moon shining brightly over the town

But this is a moon post, so what song to feature this time. Well, getting back to that old chestnut time, or rather the lack of it this week, I am going to cheat a little and include a song that has previously been included as part of another series. I started out with great gusto on my American Odyssey in Song in early 2017, but floundered last year upon reaching little Delaware. There was only one obvious contender for that state, but I didn’t want to write about it, and that was that. Fortunately, George has picked up the mantle, and is manfully making his way round the 50 states over at CC’s place. Lets hope, unlike me, he doesn’t flounder when he reaches Delaware.

This is a very roundabout way of saying, the song I’m going to include to accompany the Snow Moon, is Moonlight in Vermont by Willie Nelson. I didn’t actually know the song until it was suggested as a contender for my series, and after listening to several versions (it has been recorded by just about everyone), the one I warmed too most was Willie’s version.

Moonlight in Vermont by Willie Nelson:

Willie Nelson is of course one of the greats of country music, and when he decided to record an album of standards called Stardust, in 1978, he wanted the song to be on it. It is considered the unofficial state song of Vermont and is frequently played as the “first dance song” at wedding receptions. It was written in 1944 by John Blackburn and Karl Suessdorf, and is unusual in that the lyrics take the form of a haiku.

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Willie Nelson

And again, I’m going to share this heart-warming little story connecting my grandfather to the state of Vermont and to the song. Whilst doing a bit of research for my “Vermont post” back in 2017, I made an interesting discovery. The blacksmith and inventor John Deere was born there, and he was the man responsible for giving us much of the agricultural and construction equipment still used today, specifically the large steel plough.

My grandfather was not the “lineman for the county”, but he was the “roads supervisor for the county” back in the 1950s. The climate and landscape of the North of Scotland would have been similar in many ways to that of Vermont, so thank goodness for the large snow plough attachments that came across from America just at the time my grandfather was responsible for keeping the often snowbound, highways and byways of Aberdeenshire open. Back then, before the days of television, the wireless was the main form of home entertainment, and I feel sure my grandfather might well have listened to an early version of the song Moonlight in Vermont before heading out for a night-shift on one of those giant snow ploughs.

So, “What’s It All About?” – I apologise for this bit of lazy blogging, but I did kind of fall in love with the song first time around, and always thought it would make a reappearance at some point in this Moon Series. Also, there has been very little snow with us so far this year, and as I needed some snow shots to accompany the post, Vermont manfully came to the rescue.

As for my holiday hideaway, more of that to follow no doubt, as I get it up and running. It has just hit me however, that it has all kind of come about because the daughter of the man in the picture above, my mum, is now an 83-year-old herself, and in need of a care home. Time marches on indeed, and the younger generation becomes the older generation, in what feels like the wink of an eye.

Lord knows I have had plenty of rants over the last year about the current state of adult social care and the dementia tax, so I won’t go there again, but in the event my mum’s funds run out, and I have to contribute to the care home fees, I am at least trying to put in place a means of doing so. For anyone out there who has not yet done so, start having the conversation early on as to how you want things to go should the unthinkable happen. We sadly didn’t, and some bad decisions were made, without the help of professionals. Wouldn’t want to land DD in a similar position.

But hey, I don’t want to end this post on a negative note. There is a lot to be positive about at the moment and I am embarking on a totally new career in my late 50s, so that can’t be bad. Willie Nelson however is still out there campaigning and performing at the age of 85, so it just goes to show, age is no barrier to taking up new challenges.

Until next time…

Moonlight In Vermont Lyrics
(Song by John Blackburn/Karl Suessdorf)

Pennies in a stream
Falling leaves, a sycamore
Moonlight in Vermont

Icy finger-waves
Ski trails on a mountainside
Snowlight in Vermont

Telegraph cables, they sing down the highway
And travel each bend in the road
People who meet in this romantic setting
Are so hypnotized by the lovely
Evening summer breeze
Warbling of a meadowlark
Moonlight in Vermont

Celestial Phenomena, case/lang/veirs and “Supermoon”

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, it’s that time of the month again – Yes, it’s time for the full moon to make an appearance in our skies, and this month it’s going to be a supermoon. When the moon is at perigee (coming as close to the earth as is possible), it looks disproportionally bigger and brighter, which can make it quite spectacular. Just to complicate things further, this month it will also be a blood moon, as the earth will line up with the sun creating a lunar eclipse.

If you live in the UK, you’ll have to be up at the crack of dawn on Monday the 21st to catch a glimpse, but I’m hopeful that both my alarm, and the clouds, won’t let me down. So far in this series I’ve not had much luck at spotting a lunar eclipse, but perhaps this time I’ll be lucky.

eclipse-2019-super-blood-moon-last-total-lunar-eclipse-2021-1693095And here is why I’ve had to continue with this series into another year. Although I covered 13 full moons last year, there were still many great songs left over which hadn’t been used yet. I discovered this next song song when watching the BBC documentary called Wonders of the Moon which aired just after that trio of supermoons appeared in the skies last year. The makers used all the usual suspects as background music for the show (most of them already having been covered here), but one song was new to me, and I kind of fell in love with it. It took a bit of effort but I later discovered it was by female supergroup case/lang/veirs, and was called Supermoon.

Supermoon by case/lang/veirs:

Although case/lang/veirs sound as if they should be a firm of solicitors or accountants, they were the Canadian-American supergroup made up of k.d. lang, Neko Case and Laura Veirs. I had of course heard of k.d. lang before (it seems she likes to use lower case for her moniker), and I have always liked her music, but I hadn’t heard of the other two members of the group before. They apparently formed in 2013 when Lang invited Case and Veirs to join her on a project. She had been considering retirement, but before that happened she wanted to be part of a band, a real collaborative effort. The group released their eponymous album in June 2016 and it apparently received “ecstatic reviews”. It was of an alt-country persuasion and used natural imagery. One of the songs on this album was Supermoon.

As for the ancient name for this month’s supermoon, January is usually the month of the Wolf Moon (link to last year’s post here), as it used to appear in the sky when the wolves were howling in hunger outside the villages. But for this series I’m using the alternate name, which this time can either be the Moon After Yule or the Old Moon. Because of the way it fell in December, we’ve actually had a full moon since Yule already, so The Old Moon it will have to be.

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Alternate names for my 2019 series

Above is a chart of all the alternate names I’ll be using for the series this year. As ever, if anyone has a cracking moon-related song that could fit any of the names, feel free to offer it up as a suggestion. I do like writing to order, which I think is unusual, but I like the challenge of it all. Quite a few good prompts here, although mainly weather or food & drink related it seems – Could get interesting!

Until next time….

Supermoon Lyrics
(Neko Case/k.d. Lang/Laura Veirs) 

Supermoon
Where all the diamond deals are made
We never used to live this long
We’re pioneers my dear press on, move along

And if my smile
Seems painted on once in awhile
I can count on you
To notice and to take me out

Would you like to start a river
And ride it like a painted carousel
Our life savings aren’t enough
Have to lobby hard and make it up
Make it up

Supermoon
We never used to live this long
We’re pioneers my dear
Pioneers we’re pressing on, move along
And if my smile
Seems straight as the Tropic of Cancer it’s because
Nature isn’t magic it’s just a mystery to us

Would you like to start a river
And ride it like a painted carousel
Our life savings aren’t enough
Have to lobby hard and make it up
Make it up

Tell me if you feel it
And we’ll mine it to reveal it
From the dams up to the turbines

Tell me if you feel it
And we’ll mine it to reveal it
From the dams up to the turbines
They’re running much too hot
Too many

The Winter Solstice, “Fly Me To The Moon” and A Very Merry Christmas

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, it’s all coming together at just the same time! Today is Yule, the day of the winter solstice, that pivot point in the year after which the days will start to get longer again. Tomorrow is the day of the December full moon, very appropriately called both the Cold Moon, and the Long Nights Moon. Last but not least, we are also right in the middle of Christmastime, that annual festival commemorating the birth of Jesus Christ, which seems to have become a cultural phenomenon celebrated around the world by billions of Christians and non-Christians alike.

But this is my Moon Series, so what song to feature this time? Unbelievably, I have yet to share a Frank Sinatra song in this series, which is bizarre, as the Chairman of the Board was known to record a fair few songs with the word moon in the title over the course of his career. I shared a version of Fly Me To The Moon by Julie London just before I started this series, but now that we’re into its second calendar year, time to revisit the song I think, and time for a bit of Francis Albert at Christmastime.

Fly Me To The Moon by Frank Sinatra:

Fly Me To The Moon was written in 1954 by Bart Howard, but originally had the title “In Other Words”. Kaye Ballard recorded it first, but since then it has become a jazz standard, often featured in popular culture. Frank Sinatra’s 1964 version was closely associated with the first Apollo missions to the moon.

A few great moon shots have again been captured by my friend with the all singing, all dancing camera over the last week. Here are a few of the best.

I’ve mentioned this often since starting the blog, but the year I seem to warm to most when revisiting the tracks of my years, is 1967. Lots of reasons for that, but the main one seems to be that it’s the year I was just starting to take an interest in the music I heard on the radio and on television – I was a kid, I was happy, loved and nothing bad had yet happened in my young life. For this reason I took to retuning one of the car’s digital radio stations recently to Absolute60s. I figured that whenever I tuned in, there would be a one in ten chance something from my favourite year would be playing, which would in turn take me to my “happy place” (if I was having a bit of a stressful day).

As luck would have it, the first song played on this new retuned station was Somethin’ Stupid by Frank & Nancy Sinatra from, yes you’ve guessed it, 1967. This of course reminded me that in 2001, Robbie Williams & Nicole Kidman recorded a great cover version of the song which became the Christmas No. 1 hit that year. Both artists were at the top of their game in terms of their respective careers, and the video for the song, although obviously staged, still makes me feel all Christmassy. If I had to choose one year other than 1967 to take me to my happy place, it would be 2001, a time when DD herself was just a kid and starting to take an interest in music. She was old enough to enjoy all the wonderment of this time of year without yet being taken in by the commercialisation of it all.

Somethin’ Stupid by Frank & Nancy Sinatra:

So, “What’s It All About?” – I suspect I won’t return with anything new now before the big day, so to everyone who visits here, have a wonderful Christmas. Remember to look out for the full moon that should appear in our skies on Saturday night, and look forward to the fact the days are now lengthening again.

Just one more thing. Last night, Mr WIAA and myself headed into town to take part in an awareness raising event for a local charity. The high rate of suicide amongst young men in the Highlands means that many families have lost a son or brother in recent years. Mikeysline has been set up to offer support to people who suffer from depression and chronic loneliness. Yes, it may well be “the most wonderful time of the year” for some, but keep a close eye on those who could well be feeling even lonelier than usual.

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We lit up the bridges for Mikeysline

An added bonus to last night, was that we managed to take a few pictures whilst walking through the town centre, and of course, our almost full moon made it’s way into the shot.

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The moon peeping over the top of our Townhouse

Merry Christmas from all of us at WIAA. Hope you have a good one.

Fly Me To The Moon Lyrics
(Song by Bart Howard)

Fly me to the moon
Let me play among the stars
Let me see what spring is like
On a-Jupiter and Mars

In other words: hold my hand
In other words: baby, kiss me

Fill my heart with song
And let me sing for ever more
You are all I long for
All I worship and adore

In other words: please, be true
In other words: I love you

Fill my heart with song
Let me sing for ever more
You are all I long for
All I worship and adore

In other words: please, be true
In other words, in other words: I love you

The Frost Arrives, Creedence Clearwater Revival and “Bad Moon Rising”

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.

Welcome to my second November “moon post”. No two years are ever going to be the same as far as the lunar calendar is concerned, so this seems to be the series that can just keep on giving! The inspiration for these posts came from witnessing a fantastic low-lying supermoon this time last year (link here). It led me to wanting to find out all about our only satellite, as unbelievably, I had pretty much taken it for granted until then.

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All full moons have a name, and the November full moon, which will appear in our skies on Friday night, is called the Beaver Moon. I carefully sidestepped any further comment about that name last year, and will do so again, because joy of joys it has an alternate name, the Frost Moon. We certainly have had some frosty mornings around here of late, but also clear skies, which led myself and Mr WIAA to head out for another bit of filming on the dash cam. Some of you will recognise the route taken, as it’s the same one used for a previous film clip, but back then it was all sunshine and blue skies. We’re heading into a very different season at this time of year.

Bad Moon Rising by Creedence Clearwater Revival:

When I started this series last year, I put out a request for moon-related songs, and one of the most frequently suggested, was Bad Moon Rising by Creedence Clearwater Revival. So far I’ve managed to avoid using it, as I have never been a fan of the song. I realise it does need to be included at some point however, so I’ve added it to my film clip above. It did really well in the UK Singles Chart, reaching the No. 1 spot in August 1969, but somehow not a song I have ever warmed to. I have a theory that songs have genders, some male and some female. Most of my favourite songs have a leaning towards the feminine side, whether performed by men or women. This song for me, is testosterone laden, and fully masculine, so not really my bag.

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Creedence Clearwater Revival

As mentioned recently, I’ve taken to heading out of an evening, enjoying long walks around my neighbourhood. Over the last couple of weeks, the moon has been a constant feature in our night skies, and has changed from being a half moon, to a waxing gibbous (look at me with all the jargon). Last night it looked pretty full to me, but if you looked closely, there was indeed a slight shading on the top left corner, as if someone had just started to rub it out with an eraser, then changed their mind.

My friend with the fancy camera has also been out and about over the last week, and I am going to share some of his pictures of the waxing gibbous moon – Some taken at a distance, and one taken with the full-on power of a zoom lens. Amazing shots as ever.

Pictures courtesy of R.J.

Before I go, another snippet about the featured song. A line from it has became one of rock’s most famous cases of misheard lyrics. Due to John Fogerty’s distinctive delivery, a large proportion of radio listeners thought he was singing: “There’s a bathroom on the right”! A classic mondegreen. As for the actual lyrics, considering all the political shenanigans going on at the moment, possibly quite apt for “our times”.

Until next time…

Bad Moon Rising Lyrics
(Song by John Fogerty)

I see the bad moon a-rising
I see trouble on the way
I see earthquakes and lightning
I see bad times today

Don’t go around tonight
Well, it’s bound to take your life
There’s a bad moon on the rise

I hear hurricanes a-blowing
I know the end is coming soon
I fear rivers overflowing
I hear the voice of rage and ruin

Don’t go around tonight
Well, it’s bound to take your life

There’s a bad moon on the rise

Hope you got your things together
Hope you are quite prepared to die
Looks like we’re in for nasty weather
One eye is taken for an eye

Don’t go around tonight
Well, it’s bound to take your life
There’s a bad moon on the rise