If you’re going to do a mix of sun songs, then you’ve got to give the moon its due as well. No, there’s no "Moondance" here, but there are still 16 perfectly good examples of lunar-themed songcraft to catch your ear. Sorry, did I say "16"? I meant 15, of course. There’s no unlisted bonus track to see here, folks, so just keep moving.
"Here Comes the Moon," George Harrison (George Harrison)
I’m as much of a George Harrison fan as any other self-respecting Beatlemaniac, but when I first saw this song title, even I had to ask, "C’mon, George, isn’t that just a little too obvious?" And, of course, the answer is a resounding "yes." It’s a pleasant little number, and it doesn’t sound anything remotely like its sister song, but it’s also no competition for it, either.
"Under the Light of the Moon,"
the Merrymakers (Bubblegun)
These guys are as much of a reason for my undying love of Swedish pop as anyone else out there. Shame they haven’t managed to released another album since this one, but if rumors are true, they might finally get around to it…though I’ve been waiting so long at this point that it’d be foolish for me to start holding my breath.
"Man on the Moon," R.E.M. (Automatic for the People)
Just when you think you’re done with R.E.M., they pull you back in. Such was the case with this record, which found the band producing an album to rival their work during their I.R.S. days. There’s talk that their new disc, Accelerate, will have approximately the same effect on old-school fans, but there’ve been too many iffy albums since Automatic for the People for me to believe that until I’ve actually heard it.
"Moonage Daydream," David Bowie
(The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars)
This mix’s embarrassing admission: if it hadn’t been for Bauhaus covering "Ziggy Stardust," I might never have bought this album. My introduction to the Thin White Duke was Let’s Dance, and I got so burned on MTV’s overplaying of that album’s singles that it was several years before I ever bought any of his albums…and when I finally did, it was Never Let Me Down, which promptly killed any chance I might’ve had for developing a proper Bowie obsession for many more years. Thank God Peter Murphy and company finally showed me the light.
"Bark at the Moon," Ozzy Osbourne (Bark at the Moon)
Ozzy’s a legend of heavy metal, with one of the most memorable voices in the genre, but it’s Jake E. Lee’s shredding that drives this song as much as Ozzy’s vocals. Listening to it, I have to admit that it feels more of its time (1983) that I had remembered, thanks to the synth bits that pop up here and there; thankfully, Lee whips out a solo just before song’s end that preserves all your fond metal memories.
"Howling at the Moon (Sha-La-La)," the Ramones (Too Tough to Die)
Not only is the album cover an unabashed tribute to "A Clockwork Orange," but there’s even a song title inspired by the car driven by Malcolm McDowell’s character in the film ("Durango 95"). It’s a lesser Ramones album, but as with all Ramones albums, it’s still more than worth listening to.
"The Whole of the Moon," the Waterboys (This Is the Sea)
Thank you, "120 Minutes." Had it not been for MTV’s famed alt-rock spotlight show giving air to the video for this song, I might never have heard of Mike Scott. As it was, I’d actually discovered the band of a former Waterboy – Karl Wallinger’s World Party – before I’d ever heard of Scott’s band. (The video for this song features an appearance by Wallinger, by the way, as he was still in the line-up when it was filmed.)
"Painted Moon," the Silencers
(A Letter from St. Paul)
These Scottish lads came up with one of my favorite singles of the late ‘80s with this track. I don’t have the original album on CD (I’m still flying the cassette flag with that one), but I do have a best-of collection which features a surprisingly successful "Blues Mix" of the song. At 6+ minutes, it’s no substitute for the simplicity of the single version, but it’s still well worth hearing.
"New Moon on Monday," Duran Duran (Seven and the Ragged Tiger)
If I live to be a hundred, I will never understand why this song wasn’t on the band’s first best-of collection, Decade. But, then again, its omission was what led me to invest in a CD copy of Seven and the Ragged Tiger, so I guess I can’t complain. I’d also just like to use this forum to say that I actually saw the band on this tour and still have my program and t-shirt.
"The Killing Moon," Echo and the Bunnymen (Ocean Rain)
Dear Mr. Echo: although it was either "Lips Like Sugar" or your cover of The Doors’ "People Are Strange" that first caught my ear – it’s been so long that I can’t swear which – if someone ever asks me to pick your career-defining moment, I’m going with this delightfully creepy song.
"Two Sides of the Moon," Asia (Arena)
Now that the original line-up of Asia (John Wetton, Steve Howe, Geoff Downes, and Carl Palmer) has gotten back together, it’s like the years the band spent with John Payne as frontman never happened. Well, sir, I’m here to tell you that they damned sure did happen, and this is one of my favorite songs from that timeframe, which comes complete with an honest-to-God reggae breakdown at the end.
"C-Moon," Paul McCartney (Red Rose Speedway)
And speaking of reggae, I don’t think anyone was particularly clamoring for Macca to steer his music in that direction, either, but he did it, anyway. It was probably just the ganja talking, as he never went out of his way to embrace the sound again.
"Wrong Side of the Moon," Squeeze (Argybargy)
Now that Jools Holland is a big-shot superstar in the UK, he’ll probably never deign to rejoin Squeeze, but once upon a time, he added a lot of heart, soul, and piano-pounding goodness to those classic Difford / Tilbrook harmonies. Once in awhile, he even kicked Glenn out of the room and said, "C’mon, Chris, let’s you and I write one, shall we?" Given these results, it’s a shame he didn’t do it more often.
"Fly Me to the Moon," Frank Sinatra
(Sinatra Reprise: The Very Good Years)
God help me, but whenever I hear this song, I think of the last scene in "Space Cowboys," where we’re treated to the cheery sight of Tommy Lee Jones’ corpse lying on the surface of the moon. I’m not saying it’s a great movie, but I can’t say it hasn’t stuck with me.
"Moon River," Morrissey (World of Morrissey)
Really, how could I get away with making a moon-themed mix and not include the definitive moon song? I was torn between the time-honored Andy Williams version and this one, but for as long and languid as Morrissey’s take on the song is, I still have to show brand loyalty and go with his rendition. But if I’m to be honest, I should mention that you could probably cut about five minutes out of the middle of this puppy and not lose a whole lot.
Unlisted Bonus Track:
"Moon Over Parma," Drew Carey
(Cleveland Rocks! Music from The Drew Carey Show)
Okay, fine, there is an unlisted bonus track. So sue me. It’s less than 20 seconds long, so I just couldn’t rationalize giving it its own spot within the standard 15-song limit of these mix discs, but it’s such a fun track that it’s well worth waiting ‘til the end of the disc to have it sneak up on you. And, besides, if you put together this mix yourself and don’t have an extra 20 seconds at the end of the disc, then you’re clearly using the wrong brand of CD-Rs, my friend.