Solo artists, bands, and songwriters take inspiration from all types of sources when coming up with the music and lyrics for their songs. Sometimes they are inspired by personal experiences, and sometimes it is everyday items or topical issues that become the topics for their music. The natural world is another area that can become the basis for a new track, and there are a surprisingly large number of songs about the moon. Here are the 20 best songs about the moon.
20. To the Moon & Back, Savage Garden (1997)
‘To the Moon & Back’ is a single released by Australian pop duo Savage Garden in 1997 and was the second single from their self-titled album. This single won the ARIA Music Award for Song of the Year, and it topped the charts in Australia. It also reached number three in the UK and was a top 25 hit on the Billboard Hot 100.
19. Moon at the Window, Joni Mitchell (1983)
The name of Joni Mitchell’s 1983 single came from the Zen poetry of Ryokan, and the track appeared in the album ‘Wild Things Run Fast.’ Mitchell said that some critics described the song as eccentric. The singer has said about the song that although she ignored the harmonic laws of jazz, it was the closest to jazz she ever came.
18. Drunk on the Moon, Tom Waits (1974)
Tom Waits used the moon as the theme for several of his songs, including ‘Grapefruit Moon’ and ‘I’ll Shoot the Moon.’ However, one of his best songs about the moon is ‘Drunk on the Moon,’ which was released in 1974. This song was on his album ‘The Heart of Saturday Night.’ The inspiration for the song came from The Terminal bar in Denver, Colorado, and it features Pete Christlieb on the tenor saxophone.
17. Once in a Very Blue Moon, Nanci Griffith (1984)
‘Once in a Very Blue Moon’ was written by respected country music songwriter Pat Algar. Nanci Griffith recorded the track in 1984, and it was the title track for her album of the same name, which was the artist’s third album. Interestingly, Griffith later named her orchestra after the song. ‘Once In a Very blue Moon’ has been covered by artists including Dolly Parton and Mary Black.
16. The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress, Glen Campbell (1974)
‘The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress’ was written by Jimmy Webb, and it is considered one of his greatest creations and an example of his lyrical abilities. There are many versions of the song recorded by various artists, including Joe Cocker, Joan Baez, Linda Rondstadt, and Judy Collings. However, the most famous version, and arguably the best, is by Glenn Campbell. The song featured on Campbell’s 1974 album, ‘Reunion: The Songs of Jimmy Webb.’
15. Can’t Fight the Moonlight, LeAnn Rimes (2000)
‘Can’t Fight the Moonlight’ was written by Diane Warren and recorded by LeAnn Rimes. It is the theme song of the 2000 film ‘Coyote Ugly. The song was a top 10 hit in Australia, New Zealand, Canada, and 19 European countries. In the United States, it peaked at number 11 on the Billboard Hot 100. ‘Can’t Fight the Moonlight’ featured on Rimes’ 2002 album ‘I Need You’ and also on her 2004 compilation album ‘The Best of LeAnn Rimes.’
14. Shame on the Moon, Bob Seger (1982)
Bob Seger had a massive hit with ‘Shame on the Moon’ in 1982. However, he was not the first to record the track, as it was originally cut by Rodney Cowell with his wife, Roseanne Cash, singing harmony vocals. Seger used this single to promote his album ‘The Distance,’ and it featured a piano solo by Bill Payne, a member of Little Feat.
13. Moonlight Serenade, Glenn Miller (1939)
‘Moonlight Serenade is a swing ballad performed by Glenn Miller and his band. It is considered one of the most recognizable melodies in popular music. Originally, it was an instrumental track, but then the lyrics were added by Mitchell Paris. However, it is the instrumental track that has remained the most popular and had inspired many other artists.
12. Walking on the Moon, The Police (1979)
Sting once claimed that the idea for ‘Walking on the Moon’ came to him when he had been out drinking in Munich. When the song was released by The Police in 1979, it went straight to number one on the charts. One element that helped the song to achieve instant success was its accompanying music video, which was filmed at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The Police’s lively performance on the video shows them miming the lyrics of the track amongst the space center’s displays.
11. Pink Moon, Nick Drake (1972)
‘Pink Moon’ was the title track to Nick Drake’s 1972 album. On the track, Nick Drake provides the vocals, plays the acoustic guitar, and performs a minimalist piano solo. There is some conflict within the song, as while the music is very pretty, it has dark lyrics. The lyrics reflect the fact that Drake was suffering from depression at the time he wrote the song.
10. Man on the Moon, R.E.M. (1992)
‘Man on the Moon’ was a 1992 single for R.E.M., and it appeared on the band’s eighth album, ‘Automatic for the People.’ It became one of R.E.M.’s most popular tunes. The song is about the conspiracy theories surrounding the 1969 moon landing being faked. A section of the song also covers Andy Kaufman’s death because there were claims that the comedian had faked his own death and also questions whether Elvis is really dead.
9. Blue Moon of Kentucky, Elvis Presley (1954)
U Discover Music lists ‘Blue Moon of Kentucky’ as one of the best songs about the moon of all time. Originally, the song was recorded as a slow waltz by Bill Monroe in 1946. Elvis Presley was recording in Sun Studios eight years later when he and the musicians present began performing the song during a break from recording. Producer Sam Phillips was present at the time, and he believed that the song had potential. The producer asked them to make the song more upbeat and blues-based, and it was then released just 12 days after it had been recorded.
8. Moondance, Van Morrison (1970)
Van Morrison wrote the music for this love song first, then added the lyrics later. He first played it on a soprano saxophone and knew that it was worth coming up with lyrics to create a single. When the song was recorded, Morrison stuck to the vocals and handed over the duty of playing the saxophone to the late Jack Schroer.
7. Blue Moon, Billie Holiday (1952)
Richard Rodgers and Lorenz Hart penned the final version of ‘Blue Moon.’ It was written for the Clark Gable film ‘Manhattan Melodrama.’ Although there are several versions of this song, one of the best was performed by Billie Holiday, and she released it as a single in 1952. On Holiday’s version of the song, there is Oscar Peterson on piano, Ray Brown on bass, and Barney Kessel on guitar. Others who have released versions of this song include Dean Martin, Ella Fitzgerald, Elvis Presley, and Mel Torme.
7. Fly Me to the Moon, Frank Sinatra (1964)
Originally, ‘Fly Me to the Moon’ was titled ‘In Other Words.’ It was written by Bart Howard and released as a single by Frank Sinatra in 1964. Others who have released versions of this single include Nat King Cole, Julie London, Doris Day, Astrud Gilberto, and Anita O’Day. It is claimed that this song was the first piece of music ever played on the Moon, as it is alleged that astronaut Buzz Aldrin took a recording of the song and a cassette played on the Apollo 11 mission.
6. Moon River, Audrey Hepburn (1961)
In the list of the best songs about the moon by Ranker, they have included ‘Moon River.’ Although this song was recorded by several artists, the first person to sing it was actress Audrey Hepburn in the 1961 film ‘Breakfast at Tiffany’s.’ It was an Oscar and Grammy Award-winning song. Various artists later covered it, including Sarah Vaughan, Judy Garland, Louis Armstrong, Frank Ocean, Amy Winehouse, and Rod Stewart.
5. Moonshadow, Cat Stevens (1970)
According to Cat Stevens, his favorite song of all the tracks he ever recorded is ‘Moonshadow.’ It was released in 1970 and later featured on this album ‘Teaser and the Firecat.’ Stevens was inspired to write the song after a holiday experience. He realized that the streetlights in the West End of London, where you grew up, meant that you never had the opportunity to see the moon properly in the dark. While on holiday away from the city, he saw his shadow in the moonlight for the first time.
4. Talking to the Moon, Bruno Mars (2010)
There are various interpretations of the lyrics of Bruno Mars’ 2010 single ‘Talking to the Moon.’ One interpretation is that the song is about Mars talking to the Moon and hoping that the woman of his dreams is doing the same thing and that destiny will then bring them together. The song featured on Bruno Mars’ debut studio album ‘Doo-Wops & Hooligans.’ Bruno Mars co-wrote the song with Jeff Bhasker, Ari Levine, and Albert Winkler.
3. Dancing in the Moonlight, King Harvest (1973)
‘Dancing in the Moonlight’ was written by Sherman Kelly and was first recorded by Kell’s band, Boffalongo, in 1970. Many other groups and artists have since recorded it, and the most famous is probably the French-American rock group King Harvest, who released the song in 1970. Their version reached number 13 on the Billboard Hot 100. English band Toploader also released a version of this song in 2000. It achieved multi-Platinum status in the UK and became a worldwide hit.
2. Moonlight, Ariana Grande (2016)
The most recent track included on this list is ‘Moonlight,’ which was a 2016 hit for Ariana Grande. She was inspired to write this song after an ex-boyfriend called her ‘moonlight’ after they had shared their first kiss. This song featured on Grande’s third studio album, ‘Dangerous Woman.’ Grande’s co-writers for this track were Thomas Brown, Victoria McCants, and Peter Lee Johnson.
1. Bad Moon Rising, Creedence Clearwater Revival (1969)
According to Spinditty, the best song about the moon of all time is ‘Bad Moon Rising.’ The moon is often used in a symbolic way, and it is linked with romance and mystery. However, there is also a darker side to the moon as it is sometimes associated with doom. ‘Bad Moon Rising’ is inspired by this darker side. Although the song was released in 1969, it was used in 1981 on the soundtrack for the comedy-horror film ‘American Werewolf in London.’ Others who have covered the song include Emmylou Harris and Jerry Lee Lewis.