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Song Swarm: Blue Moon

January 31st, 2018 Leave a comment Go to comments

I’m reposting this to mark tonight’s Super Blue Red Moon, which much of the world will be able to witness.

The story of Blue Moon — its transition from a movie song that was rewritten several times to jazz song and then pop hit — was told in The Originals Vol. 40, which included the first version, The Bad In Every Man, sung on film by Shirley Ross.

This collection of 38 versions covers all manner of approaches. There are the early jazz interpretations, most of them with vocals (though Gene Krupa, Django Reinhardt and in 1944 the Cozy Cole Allstars do it instrumentally). Then it became something of a torchsong number in the hands of jazzy crooners such as Mel Tormé (whose 1960 re-recording is my favourite version), Billy Eckstine, Billie Holiday, Julie London and Ella Fitzgerald. Nat ‘King’ Cole weighed in with a more upbeat version. In 1960, Bert Kaempfert — the first producer of The Beatles — contrived an easy listening instrumental that is very much of its time.

Elvis on his debut album in 1956 gave it a minimalist, slow feel, with a rare falsetto (that take is later replicated in tribute by Chris Isaak and The Mavericks). Around the same time as Elvis, The Emanons recorded a doo wop version, which with Sam Cooke’s might have influenced that by The Marcels, which became a huge hit.

In 1970 Bob Dylan released a rather unexpected cover, with a unique arrangement. Another unexpected performer in this compilation is Robert de Niro, who performed it in the 1977 film New York, New York, in which Bob played a bandleader. Likewise, alt-country rockers My Morning Jacket are not the first band one would think of in a mix of covers of Blue Moon.

I’ve included a playlist file, which runs the versions in the chronological order, as listed below.

Glen Gray and his Casa Loma Orchestra (1934) • Frankie Trumbauer and his Orchestra  (1934) • Connie Boswell & Victor Young Orchestra  (1935) • Al Bowlly with the Ray Noble Orchestra (1935) • Benny Goodman and his Orchestra  (1935) • Django Reinhardt  (1935) • Gene Krupa  (1939) • Tommy Dorsey and his Orchestra  (1939) • Cozy Cole Allstars (1944) • Mel Tormé (1949) • Billy Eckstine (1949) • Nat ‘King’ Cole (1951) • Jo Stafford (1952) •  Billie Holiday  (1952) •  Oscar Peterson  (1954) •  Ella Fitzgerald (1956) •  Elvis Presley (1956) •  The Emanons (1956) •  Sam Cooke  (1958) •  Julie London  (1958) •  Bert Kaempfert Orchester (1960) •  Mel Tormé  (1960) • Frank Sinatra (1961) • The Marcels  (1961) • The Ventures (1961) • Bobby Vinton (1963) • Dean Martin  (1964) • Bob Dylan  (1970) • Spooky & Sue  (1975) • Robert de Niro & Mary Kay (1977) • Sha Na Na  (1978) • Mark Isham with Tanita Tikaram  (1990) • Chris Isaak  (1994) • The Mavericks  (1995) • Tori Amos  (1996) • Vidal Brothers (1997) • Rod Stewart (2004) • My Morning Jacket  (2005)

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  1. halfhearteddude
    February 26th, 2011 at 01:12 | #1

    PW = amdwhah

  2. February 26th, 2011 at 17:56 | #2

    My favourite version of the song is probably the Elvis version, but above that is the Cowboy Junkie’s track Blue Moon Revisited which is lovely, and uses the song to fantastic effect. Absolutely gorgeous.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GysJ4bKIhho

  3. RonNasty64
    March 2nd, 2011 at 22:32 | #3

    I’ve always been fond of Dave Edmunds cover, which he performs on You Tube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MEEEMQU1Wbk

  4. Ravel
    March 3rd, 2011 at 07:46 | #4

    Jane Froman’s version: dramatic. My favorite. & among one of my favorite standard. You didn’t include it here but thanks for all these.

  5. March 8th, 2011 at 05:36 | #5

    Funnily enough, the Elvis version came up on iPod shuffle just the other day, and I was thinking how good it sounded until the falsetto. At that point, you wonder if he’s just arsing around in the studio and taking the piss. I think it was either Showawaddywaddy or The Darts did a decent version in the late 70s.

  6. Lordy
    March 25th, 2014 at 02:17 | #6

    I love your Sound Swarms!

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