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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Cat Stevens, “Moonshadow” and Freaky Lunar Phenomena

I seem to have become interested in the full moon cycle at a pretty unique time, celestially speaking. Since first noticing that amazing supermoon at the start of November there have already been two more supermoons and this month, because of how the first full moon fell, we are to have another one 29 and a half days later right at the end of the month. Unlike the rest it won’t have a name given to it by the Native Americans because it will be a “blue moon” – Something that doesn’t happen very often. Just to complicate things further it won’t actually look blue but red (called a “blood moon”) as the earth will line up with the sun creating a lunar eclipse. Last but not least, it will again be a supermoon where it comes as close to the earth as is possible making it look 14% bigger and 30% brighter (although perhaps the lunar eclipse will override the brightness somewhat this time). Whatever, definitely something to look out for on Wednesday the 31st January, this Super, Blue, Blood, Moon.

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The Blood Moon

I have already worked out which songs about moons I am planning to use for this series, and of course it was a no-brainer that Rodgers and Hart’s Blue Moon would feature whenever that phenomenon appeared in our skies. Now that I’ve discovered this next full moon is going to be shadowed by the earth however, there are definitely more appropriate picks. The one I’m going to choose is Moonshadow by Cat Stevens.

Moonshadow by Cat Stevens:

Ok, so technically Wednesday night’s phenomenon is a case of the earth shadowing the moon as opposed to the other way round, but a great excuse to feature something by Mr Stevens. Most people know that Cat Stevens changed his name to Yusuf Islam in the late ’70s and gave up music altogether for a while. Fortunately for us he returned to it in 2006 and now simply goes by the stage name Yusuf. This song, Moonshadow, was a hit for him in 1971 when he was at the height of his popularity. Of all his old songs, he considers it his favourite.

I hadn’t realised until recently that Cat/Yusuf was actually from London, and more precisely the West End as his parents were the owners of a restaurant in the theatre district. Possibly because he had a Greek father and Swedish mother, and also because of his global success then conversion to Islam, I have always just thought of him as a citizen of the world and find it hard to conjure up images of the young Steven Demetre Georgiou waiting tables in the Shaftsbury Avenue of the “Swinging Sixties”.

The lyrics of the song were once explained by Yusuf in an interview – He had been on holiday in Spain and when standing at the edge of the water on a beautiful night with the moon glowing, he looked down and saw his shadow. As a kid from the West End of London, what with the bright lights and streetlamps, he had never seen the moon on its own in the dark before. He thought that was so cool and it inspired him to write about finding hope in any situation – To be present and joyful, to see life as it is right now, and not to compare it to others’ lives, or to other times in your life. If we are always wrapped up in whirlpools of worry and concern about what could be, or what has been, we are missing the richness of life as it is.

So, “What’s It All About?” – As someone who is prone to getting caught up in a whirlpool of worry and concern about the future, it seems I need to take heed of these lyrics and try to be much more “present and joyful”. Apologies for my rant last time (that post now heavily edited) as no doubt everything will sort itself out in due course – Just sometimes therapeutic to use our blogs as a place to vent. In the meantime, lets hope there will be no cloud cover on the 31st January so that we can all witness the phenomenon that will be, the Super, Blue, Blood, Moon!

Until next time….

Moonshadow Lyrics
(Song by Cat Stevens)

Oh, I’m bein’ followed by a moonshadow, moonshadow, moonshadow,
Leapin and hoppin’ on a moonshadow, moonshadow, moonshadow.

And if I ever lose my hands, lose my plough, lose my land,
Oh if I ever lose my hands, Oh if I won’t have to work no more.

And if I ever lose my eyes, if my colours all run dry,
Yes if I ever lose my eyes, Oh if I won’t have to cry no more.

Oh, I’m bein’ followed by a moonshadow, moonshadow, moonshadow,
Leapin and hoppin’ on a moonshadow, moonshadow, moonshadow.

And if I ever lose my legs, I won’t moan, and I won’t beg,
Yes if I ever lose my legs, Oh if I won’t have to walk no more.

And if I ever lose my mouth, all my teeth, north and south,
Yes if I ever lose my mouth, Oh if I won’t have to talk…

Did it take long to find me? I asked the faithful light.
Did it take long to find me? And are you gonna stay the night?

Moonshadow, moonshadow, moonshadow, moonshadow.