Months of the Year in Song: November Nights (with a Nip in the Air)

Well, I had my doubts about this series but with all the great suggestions I got last month this post will practically write itself. As it’s the last day of the month however (also St Andrew’s Day here in Scotland) I’m going to have to be quick or I’ll miss my window of opportunity.

Yet again, as with September and October, the month of November is named after a Latin number, this time nine, or novem, all because the Roman calendar used to have 10 months with a gap for an “unorganised winter”. As we head into next year things will get a bit more interesting, promise.

Another picture by Veli Bariskan, who kindly let me use the banner image above

So far in this series we’ve had Sad September and Orange October. I had hoped there would be an obvious alliterative word to tag on to November, but all I can think of at the moment is Nights. Back in September there was a bit of debate about whether that month was really the tail end of summer rather than the start of autumn. At this point in November, as it’s very cold and dark much of the time, it feels more like winter than autumn. The clocks change back to GMT at the end of October and from then on it starts to get dark at around tea-time (if like me you live in the North of Scotland). If you’re busy at work for much of the day, any social activity will probably be done at night-time, and it will probably be very dark indeed. Great for Bonfire Night on the 5th of November (link here to a previous post) but also for other outdoor extravaganzas where darkness is required. We headed along to Brodie Castle the other week where the castle and grounds were illuminated with all sorts of relevant images and colours. Really pretty indeed and a nice warming hot chocolate to enjoy at the end.

Spot the wee windows on the castle (famous for its daffodils in Spring). We were also blessed with a full moon and a starry, starry night.


But this is supposed to be a music blog, so where are the songs?

Last month the first suggestion came in from Charity Chic, Mr. November by The National, although he did add a warning that it contains ‘sweary words’. If you’re likely to be offended, cover your ears. I was struggling to work out what the song is about, but here is a possible explanation. ‘He was a high school quarterback. November is playoff season for football. He was carried in the arms of cheerleaders. He was a hero. This character has peaked way too early. He’s had his big accomplishment already, so now he sleeps late.’ Makes sense.

The next suggestion came from C of Sun Dried Sparrows, Late November by Pavlov’s Dog. Here are her own words:

‘It comes from around 1975, I think. Sort of uncategorisable. David Surkamp’s vocals are… erm… not easy to describe in a complimentary way, you wouldn’t think they could work, and yet, and yet! – there is something incredibly charming about this – I just can’t put my finger on why. Probably not everyone’s cup of tea and I wouldn’t have thought it could ever be mine. But in this case, it is. Maybe it’s the song as a whole that just gets in there.’

Crikey, I see what you mean about those vocals C, but you are right, it does have a certain je ne sais quoi.

Next up we had a suggestion from Graeme, who remembered that Mike Oldfield had a song called Man in the Rain where the month of November is heavily featured in the chorus. Coming from the Orkney Islands Graeme is probably often a man who finds himself caught in the rain. Let’s have a listen.


Very nice indeed. The vocals on that one were apparently performed by Irish folk singer Cara Dillon.

Rol as ever was not found wanting when it came to suggestions, but one of them also overlapped with a second suggestion from C, so I’ll include it first. Here is what she said about it:

‘Another (different) Late November that comes to mind is the hauntingly beautiful, melancholy song by Sandy Denny. (There are a few versions floating around, some quite stripped back with just piano and vocals but the one I like most has more instrumentation on it.)’

Let’s hope I’ve found the one you were thinking of C.


But back to Rol, here is what he said about this next song, November Rain, the one I would probably have picked myself if thinking of one relating to this month.

‘November begins and ends with Guns n Roses for me. It was my late nephew’s favourite song too, and they played it at his funeral, so much as I enjoy Axl’s histrionics, it always comes with bittersweet memories.’

Hope you don’t mind that I shared your words Rol, and understandable that it would be a tough listen for you nowadays. From the era of the really big budget music video. They don’t make ’em like that any more.

November Rain by Guns N’ Roses:


For the record, Rol’s other suggestions were as follows:

Carter USM – Born On The 5th of November
Tom Waits – November
Harry Chapin – November Rains
Morrissey – November Spawned A Monster
Stornoway – November Song
The Waterboys – November Tale

Quite a range of styles there but an all-male line-up. Maybe we should shoehorn in some Julie London to redress the balance a bit. Here we have her singing November Twilight from her Calendar Girl album (always a good source of material for this series).


Last but definitely not least we have a suggestion from Khayem, who came up with this:

‘I was surprised to find I’ve relatively few ‘November’ songs in my collection. However, I will give a nod to November by Echo & The Bunnymen. The song was a B-side (if it can be classed as such) to their 2009 digital single I Think I Need It Too. I’m not going to pretend that this is anything close to imperial phase E&TB, but I love the opening bassline and musically, it’s far jauntier than I’d expect a song with that title to be.’


To be honest I hadn’t even realised that Echo & The Bunnymen are still active as a band as I don’t think I’ve listened to them since their ‘imperial phase’ as Khayem calls it. A nice reminder of how they used to sound back then, and still do today.

So, that’s your lot for this month, something for everyone I suspect. I’ve been shocked at how quickly winter has come upon us this year and despite all my good intentions about not turning up the thermostat, I have indeed succumbed, so it’s feeling pretty cosy at WIAA Towers with the curtains shut tight of an evening. If you do venture out, as well as fireworks and lightshows, you might have spotted a pretty spectacular crescent moon this week. Some of the planets have also been visible in the night sky.

Next month is December – how the heck did it come round so quickly, but then I say that every year. There will be plenty of song choices for that month I’m sure but feel free to add your tuppence worth to the comments boxes. Always grateful for any of your suggestions.

Until next time…

November Rain Lyrics
(Song by Axl Rose)

When I look into your eyes
I can see a love restrained
But, darlin’, when I hold you
Don’t you know I feel the same? Yeah

‘Cause nothing lasts forever
And we both know hearts can change
And it’s hard to hold a candle
In the cold November rain

We’ve been through this such a long, long time
Just tryna kill the pain, ooh yeah
But lovers always come and lovers always go
And no one’s really sure who’s lettin’ go today, walkin’ away
If we could take the time to lay it on the line
I could rest my head, just knowin’ that you were mine, all mine

So, if you want to love me
Then, darlin’, don’t refrain
Or I’ll just end up walkin’
In the cold November rain

Do you need some time on your own?
Do you need some time all alone?
Ooh, everybody needs some time on their own
Ooh, don’t you know you need some time all alone?

I know it’s hard to keep an open heart
When even friends seem out to harm you
But if you could heal a broken heart
Wouldn’t time be out to charm you, whoa-whoa

Sometimes, I need some time on my own
Sometimes, I need some time all alone
Ooh, everybody needs some time on their own
Ooh, don’t you know you need some time all alone?

And when your fears subside
And shadows still remain, ooh yeah
I know that you can love me
When there’s no one left to blame

So, never mind the darkness
We still can find a way
‘Cause nothin’ lasts forever
Even cold November rain

Don’t ya think that you need somebody?
Don’t ya think that you need someone?
Everybody needs somebody
You’re not the only one, you’re not the only one
Don’t ya think that you need somebody?
Don’t ya think that you need someone?
Everybody needs somebody

The Hunter’s Moon, “The Killing Moon” and Echo & The Bunnymen

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 landmark “moon post” as it is the 13th in the series and brings us full circle (no pun intended) to the end of a calendar year of full moons. I started this series last November as we had been witness to the most spectacular supermoon on Bonfire Night and it made me want to investigate our only satellite a little further. Since then I have found out so much about the moon I had hitherto never bothered to question, and hopefully those of you who have followed this series, have gleaned a lot from it also.

The reason why this is the 13th full moon in a calendar year, is because the lunar cycle is 29.5 days – A full moon in early November last year has meant we are going to witness the Hunter’s Moon tonight, just sneaking into the tail end of the month of October. This is a series that just keeps on giving however, as no two years are ever going to be the same, and I’ll never run out of moon-themed songs. I fully intend to keep going with this one ad infinitum.

Over the last year, we’ve had two Blue Moons, three supermoons, two lunar eclipses, a month with no full moon at all (February with its 28 days), a September Harvest Moon and a Super Blue Blood Moon. The most interesting thing of all for me however is that each one has a name, and of course it’s been fun choosing a relevant song for each post from the “tracks of my years”.

The Native Americans called this month’s full moon the Hunter’s Moon for obvious reasons. Now was the time for hunting, and laying in a store of provisions for the long winter ahead. The leaves were falling and the game was fattened. I still have many songs to feature in this series (which is why I’m going to keep going with it), but the one that jumps out at me for this month is of course The Killing Moon by Echo & The Bunnymen.

The Killing Moon by Echo & The Bunnymen:

The song was released in January 1984 as the lead single from their album “Ocean Rain” and reached No. 9 in the UK Singles Chart. Lead singer Ian McCulloch apparently attributed the use of astronomical imagery in the song to a childhood interest in space. He has even come out and said, “When I sing The Killing Moon, I know there isn’t a band in the world who’s got a song anywhere near it” – Others of course may choose to disagree but good to hear of an artist who thinks so highly of their work and freely admits to it. The chords of the song were even based on David Bowie’s Space Oddity, played backwards.

thS8LMZTY6Whenever I watch old footage of Echo & The Bunnymen I am always reminded of the crowd I hung around with back in 1984. The student boyfriend and his friends all looked and dressed like Ian McCulloch & Co, acquiring their outerwear at any rate from one of the charity shops that were around at the time. There weren’t nearly as many back then (only the Oxfam Shop really) as I think we all used to buy far fewer clothes. They were relatively expensive compared to now, so had to be looked after and worn for longer. Many a charcoal Great Coat or black 1960s Car Coat was sported by the guys in our crowd. They had all been students and although those days had now come to an end, they were spinning out the student lifestyle for as long as possible before entering the real world. Sadly, by this time I had entered the real world, so the charity shop wardrobe was now being infiltrated with smart office-wear. My social life was also changing, so pink and white sweatshirts started to make an appearance as well. Yes, student life was firmly behind me and so it seemed was the student boyfriend. We no longer “matched”, and never would again.

So, “What’s It All About?” – I am conscious of the fact I’ve been absent from the comments boxes of the other blogs I follow of late, but as regular visitors to this place know, I have a lot going on at the moment within my family. I did however manage to fit in a trip to Belfast last week (I plan to write one of my travelogue style posts about it soon) which gave me a much needed break. One of the things we did there was to go and see the newly released film First Man, about the life of Neil Armstrong. I won’t say too much about it as many of you won’t have seen it yet, but as I have been immersed in all things lunar for the last twelve months, it was a must-watch for me, and I really enjoyed it.

It was made even better for me because a few months ago I’d read the book Moondust by Andrew Smith – He had gone in search of the remaining 9 “moon walkers” and it was a fascinating read. It is bizarre indeed to think that soon there will be no-one left on Earth who has actually set foot on the moon, and looked down at our planet from up there. The chapter on Neil Armstrong meant I already knew much of his back story before going to see the film, which I think was a good thing.

For me, what came out loud and clear from the book was: a) it wasn’t much fun being a moon walker’s wife; b) the person operating the lunar module didn’t have the same “spiritual experience” as the commander, who could really take in the enormity of what they were doing, and finally; c) the Apollo moon landings were less about beating the Russians at their own game but more about President Kennedy and a bunch of others engaging in the biggest Boy’s Own adventure ever. These missions could never happen today as the public are far more savvy about how their tax dollars are spent and no administration could justify what it took to get those 12 moon walkers up there.

I hope the clouds clear and we get to see the Hunter’s Moon tonight and I plan to return next month with another “moon post”, as fortunately for me, they all seem to have an alternate name. Happy days.

Until next time….

The Killing Moon Lyrics
(Song by Will Sergeant/Ian McCulloch/Les Pattinson/Pete de Freitas)

Under blue moon I saw you
So soon you’ll take me
Up in your arms
Too late to beg you or cancel it
Though I know it must be the killing time
Unwillingly mine

Fate
Up against your will
Through the thick and thin
He will wait until
You give yourself to him

In starlit nights I saw you
So cruelly you kissed me
Your lips a magic world
Your sky all hung with jewels
The killing moon
Will come too soon

Fate
Up against your will
Through the thick and thin
He will wait until
You give yourself to him

Under blue moon I saw you
So soon you’ll take me
Up in your arms
Too late to beg you or cancel it
Though I know it must be the killing time
Unwillingly mine

Fate
Up against your will
Through the thick and thin
He will wait until
You give yourself to him

Fate
Up against your will
Through the thick and thin
He will wait until
You give yourself to him
You give yourself to him

Fate
Up against your will
Through the thick and thin
He will wait until
You give yourself to him
You give yourself to him

Fate
Up against your will
Through the thick and thin
He will wait until
You give yourself to him

Fate
Up against your will
Through the thick and thin
He will wait until
You give yourself to him

Postscript:

Well, I’d never heard of such a thing, but it seems we were also treated to a “moonbow” the other night up here in the north of Scotland – The particular combination of a full moon, a bit of rain and a very black sky made this phenomenon possible. My friend with the fancy-pants camera didn’t actually get a shot of it himself, but he did share on social media a couple of shots taken by other locals. Wish I’d seen it and something I am hell bent now on witnessing in the future. Enjoy.

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