The Moon Guide
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U. S. N. O.
The phase of the Moon right now

Moon over trees
Silvery Moon
The Moon in art and culture
By the light, of the silvery moon,
I want to spoon,
To my honey I'll croon love's tune.
Honey moon, keep a-shinin' in June.
Your silv'ry beams will bring love's dreams,
We'll be cuddlin' soon,
By the silvery moon.
(Edward Madden, 1909)

It's the classic trivial rhyme – Moon and June. But songwriters, musicians and artists have had a long love-affair with our natural satellite. On these pages we take a look at the influence of the Moon on art and culture.

Popular music
Most popular songs are about love, which traditionally takes place at night when the business of the day is done and maybe prying eyes are absent. So the Moon casts its soft gleam on one's amour, allowing one to see them in a more romantic light than the harsh glare of sunlight, maybe. So it's not surprising that many popular songs refer to the Moon. 

As well as the silvery Moon listed above, there’s the Blue Moon, of course. A true blue Moon is another matter, as described on another page, but the Blue Moon of the Rodgers and Hart 1934 song refers to someone being blue, meaning sad. Then suddenly someone appears who makes all the difference, and the blue Moon turns gold. The song itself is a standard and has been recorded by singers from Ella Fitzgerald to Elvis Presley, but probably the most unforgettable version is the 1961 recording by the 'doo-wop' band The Marcels. 

Another pop standard is Fly Me to the Moon, written by Bart Howard in 1954. Popularised by Frank Sinatra in 1954, it contains the great lines:

Fly me to the Moon,
And let me play among the stars
Let me see what spring is like
On Jupiter and Mars.

Astronomical purists may complain that Jupiter, a gas giant world with no significant axial tilt, doesn't have seasons, but Mars certainly does.

Sinatra recorded a whole album of Moon tunes in 1966, as the Apollo missions were gearing up for the first landing.

While the early songs about the Moon referred to its romantic qualities, by the 1960s going to the Moon became a reality and pop songs started to refer to it as a place rather than a mellow night-time friend. Typical was Jonathan King's 1965 Everyone's Gone to the Moon which refers to a world that has lost its way.

There are hundreds of songs with the Moon in their titles, so see how many you can think of. You can find over 200 of them on Cheryl Robertson's Moon pages. Here are a few, with popular artistes, to get you started:

Moonshadow (Cat Stevens)
Carolina Moon (Connie Francis)
Moonlight Becomes You (Bing Crosby)
Moon River (Andy Williams/ Danny Williams)
Dark Side of the Moon (Pink Floyd)
Shine on, Harvest Moon (Laurel and Hardy)
Bad Moon Rising (Creedence Clearwater Revival)

Who knows how Moon lyrics will develop when there are people actually living there. Will 22nd century pop songs refer to romantic assignations by Earthlight, for example? And maybe by that time as we look up at the Moon we'll see the twinkling lights of its cities on its unilluminated portion. But will it still have the same appeal for lovers when we know that other eyes are out there looking back at us?

Classical music
The classics are much less Moon oriented than popular music. The two best-known works are both piano works: Beethoven's Moonlight Sonata and Debussy's Clair de Lune (also meaning Moonlight). The first example is Beethoven's Piano Sonata No 14, which was given its popular name by Ludwig Rellstab after Beethoven had died. However, Clair de Lune is the name which Debussy gave to the third movement of his Suite bergamasque.

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Medieval woodcut

The Moon in popular song

Explore the Moon in stamps

View the stamps

The Moon in painting

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