Lunar Madness: Does It Hurt, Heal or Hang Loose? We Report, You Decide
Brad Paisley calls his latest album Moonshine in the Trunk, thereby continuing country music’s long-running fascination with all things moonlit (including the nocturnal manufacture of a potent form of liquid illumination).
Inspired by his album title, we sifted through history and found these 15 moon-related memorables:
“There’s a New Moon Over My Shoulder,” Tex Ritter (1944)
His gal promised him she’d return with the next new moon. But several have come and gone as she’s stayed gone, leading him to lament, “There’s a new moon over my shoulder/And an old love still in my heart.”
“Blue Moon of Kentucky,” Bill Monroe (1946)
His moon is blue — no surprise here — because his lover has said goodbye. But there have been a few compensations since. The song became Monroe’s signature hit, helped launch Elvis Presley‘s career and has been recorded by just about everyone with access to a microphone, including Patsy Cline, Ray Charles, Jerry Lee Lewis, Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers, Levon Helm and an impromptu rendition by former Beatles Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr. Not bad, as heartbreaks go.
“Howlin’ at the Moon,” Hank Williams (1951)
Williams has caught a real bad case of lovesickness, a condition so intense that it has him “chasin’ rabbits, scratchin’ fleas and howlin’ at the moon.”
“Mr. Moon,” Carl Smith (1951)
Smith seems to have a pretty chummy relationship with the celestial spotlight, first asking it to help him win his love and then to brighten their honeymoon should it ensue. “It seems your golden beauty just makes a perfect night/Somehow it seems my cutie looks cuter by your light.” Awww!
“Blame It on the Moonlight,” Johnny Wright (1965)
Moonlight makes you do strange things. At least that’s the excuse Wright’s girlfriend gives him when he spies her kissing another guy one night. Well, it can work both ways as he sputters, “Go on and blame it on the moonlight, blame it on the moonlight/Or blame it on some crazy star up in the blue/But if I ever grieve you, hurt you or deceive you/Don’t blame me if I blame it on the moonlight, too.”
“Blue Moon With Heartache,” Rosanne Cash (1981)
Could it get any worse? Not only is the moon blue, her beloved comes back home not treating her right. Everything’s falling apart. This description leads up to one of the most poignant and despairing lyrics in all of music: “What would I do to be a diamond in your eyes again/What would I give to bring back those old times/What did I say to make your past turn out this way/Maybe I’ll just go away today.”
“Shame on the Moon,” Bob Seger (1983)
Although a rock singer, Seger actually made the country charts with this Rodney Crowell composition, taking it all the way to No. 15. The song describes the delicate interplay and unshared secrets between lovers. And, as we’ve been told repeatedly, the moon has a lot to do with these tricky affairs. “Oh, blame it on midnight,” Seeger sings, “Ooh, shame on the moon.”
“I Don’t Know a Thing About Love (The Moon Song),” Conway Twitty (1984)
Twitty seeks relationship advice from the man in the moon, only to be told, “I don’t know a thing about love/I just kind of hang here above/I just watch from the sky/Will love grow or will it die/I don’t know a thing about love.” Sounds like Mr. Moon is trying to avoid a malpractice suit.
“Cajun Moon,” Ricky Skaggs (1986)
Skaggs needs that little extra boost only the moon can give to get his love affair in motion. So amid all the music and bonfires, he cries out, “Cajun moon, nugget of gold/River of light on the bayou/You’re just like rain to a love in bloom, so/Shine on me, oh, Cajun moon.” It seems to be working.
“Talkin’ to the Moon,” the Gatlin Brothers (1986)
The Gatlins are getting absolutely nowhere in convincing their lovers to return. As lead singer Larry Gatlin, puts it, “I keep on hopin’/For all the good it does me/Lord, I might as well be talkin’ to the moon.” Well, Twitty could have told him that.
“The Moon Is Still Over Her Shoulder,” Michael Johnson (1987)
The man Johnson sings about is still dazzled at how young his wife seems and how much he still loves her even after the kids have grown up and married. In his mind, she’s still the same lovely creature as the one whose picture he carries in his wallet. “And the moon is still over her shoulder/And the stars are still falling above/And she never gets one minute older/And he is still falling in love.” No doubt this song has brightened many a wedding.
“Paint the Town and Hang the Moon Tonight,” J.C. Crowley (1988)
Crowley came to country music after having had a modicum of success as a member of Player, the group that scored the 1977 pop hit, “Baby Come Back.” Here he’s full-throttle honky-tonk: “I broke the saddle off my horse/It’s Friday night, and I’ve done my chores/Shined my boots, I’m ready to dance/Them little ladies ain’t got no chance/I’m gonna paint the town and hang the moon tonight.” Guess somebody has to do it.
“Neon Moon,” Brooks & Dunn (1992)
Ronnie Dunn is about as low as you can go in this tearfest. His lover has gone. He’s sitting alone at a table for two in a seedy bar. And the only “moonlight” coming his way is powered by neon. “If you lose your one and only/There’s always room here for the lonely/To watch your broken dreams/Dance in and out of the beams/Of a neon moon.” And you think you’ve got troubles.
“Even the Man in the Moon Is Crying,” Mark Collie (1992)
Remember those Shakespearean plays where all the elements of nature go crazy right before something bad happens — like the assassination in Julius Caesar? That’s basically what we have here, except the tragedy has already occurred. Collie has just taken his girlfriend to the airport and senses things have fallen apart. “Now I hear voices in the wind/Sayin’ she ain’t comin’ back again/I look for guidance in the sky/But the stars have all gone out tonight/I feel like the love of my life is dyin’/Even the man in the moon is cryin’.”
“Does That Blue Moon Ever Shine on You,” Toby Keith (1996)
At first, Keith was glad to see the love affair break up. Not so now. He misses her terribly and wonders if she ever feels the same. Looking up at that cold orb of light, he muses mournfully, “Does that blue moon ever shine on you?” We’re rooting for you, Toby. We love happy endings.
- 2001, Alan Jackson’s “Where I Come From” tops the Billboard country chart
– 1984, Ricky Skaggs’ version of Bill Monroe’s “Uncle Pen” tops the Billboard country chart
– 1975, Presenter Charlie Rich lights fire to the envelope when John Denver wins Entertainer of the Year during the ninth annual Country Music Association awards at the Grand Ole Opry House in Nashville. Denver also takes Song of the Year with “Back Home Again”
– 1946, Lacy J. Dalton is born in Bloomsburg, Pennsylvania. The husky-throated singer wins the Academy of Country Music’s Top New Female award in 1980 on the way to such hits as “Takin’ It Easy,” “Black Coffee” and the songwriter anthem “16th Avenue”
- 2012, Thomas Rhett marries Lauren Gregory
– 1993, Giant Records releases “Common Thread: The Songs Of The Eagles,” with some of the royalties to benefit the Walden Woods Project. Among the artists contributing: Clint Black, Alan Jackson, Brooks & Dunn, Vince Gill and Trisha Yearwood
– 1987, Randy Travis takes home three honors during the 21st annual Country Music Association awards at Nashville’s Grand Ole Opry House: Male Vocalist of the Year; Album, for “Always And Forever”; and Single, for “Forever And Ever, Amen,” also named Song of the Year
– 1981, Barbara Mandrell becomes the first act to win consecutive Entertainer of the Year awards from the Country Music Association during its 15th annual show at Nashville’s Grand Ole Opry House. Mandrell, who co-hosts with Mac Davis, also wins Female Vocalist of the Year
- 2005, MCA releases Gary Allan’s “Tough All Over” album
– 2002, The Dixie Chicks’ “Home” album goes triple-platinum
– 1981, The Nashville Songwriters Hall Of Fame inducts Bobby Braddock and Ray Whitley. Braddock is noted for George Jones’ “He Stopped Loving Her Today” and Tammy Wynette’s “D-I-V-O-R-C-E.” Whitley wrote Gene Autry’s theme song, “Back In The Saddle Again”
– 1953, Paulette Carlson is born in Northfield, Minnesota. She becomes the sassy lead vocalist for Highway 101, essential on such hits as “The Bed You Made For Me,” “Somewhere Tonight” and “Cry, Cry, Cry”
- 2012, The Eli Young Band’s “Even If It Breaks Your Heart” plays as ABC debuts the country-music soap opera “Nashville.” Also heard in the episode: John Conlee’s “Rose Colored Glasses,” Greg Bates’ “Did It For The Girl” and Tammy Wynette’s “Stand By Your Man”
– 2001, Lonestar’s “With Me” video debuts on CMT’s “Most Wanted Live.” The piece represents the directorial debut of drummer Keech Rainwater
– 1988, Hank Williams Jr. wins his second Entertainer of the Year trophy and claims Album of the Year, for “Born To Boogie,” during the 22nd annual Country Music Association awards at Nashville’s Grand Ole Opry House. K.T. Oslin joins him as a double-winner
– 1981, T.G. Sheppard’s “Party Time” hits the top of the Billboard country chart
Featuring 14 tracks that stretch from the group’s 2008 breakthrough “Chicken Fried” to 2013’s “Sweet Annie,” the collection will also include hits like “Toes,” “Free,” “As She’s Walking Away” (featuring Alan Jackson), “Goodbye in Her Eyes” and more.
The songs are sourced from the band’s major label album debut, The Foundation, as well as its follow-ups You Get What You Give and Uncaged.
The band’s latest release is the concept EP The Grohl Sessions: Volume 1. Featuring the single “All Alright” and three other songs, the project was produced by Dave Grohl, lead singer of the rock group Foo Fighters and former drummer of the iconic grunge band Nirvana.
As previously reported, Brown and his Southern Ground Artists collective have signed a strategic partnership with Universal’s John Varvatos Records, Big Machine Label Group and Republic Records. The new label team with oversee Brown’s future album releases, with the first one tentatively scheduled for spring of 2015.
The group currently has performances scheduled through the month of October, including the Southern Ground Music & Food Festival — an event Brown created and curates — in Charleston, South Carolina, on Oct. 11-12.
Here is the complete track listing for Zac Brown Band’s Greatest Hits So Far …:
“Whatever It Is”
“Highway 20 Ride”
“As She’s Walking Away” (Featuring Alan Jackson)
“Knee Deep” (Featuring Jimmy Buffett)
“Keep Me in Mind”
“Jump Right In”
“Goodbye in Her Eyes”
Text NEWS to 22422 to receive CMT News alerts on your phone. Message and data rates apply. Up to five messages per week. Reply STOP to stop, HELP for info.
- 2009, Taylor Swift’s “Fifteen” video premieres on CMT
– 1993, Scotty McCreery is born in Garner, North Carolina. He wins “American Idol” in 2011, leading to the release of his first album, “Clear As Day,” within months. He earns his first Top 10 country single with 2013’s “See You Tonight”
– 1989, Hank Williams Jr.’s duet with Hank Sr. on “There’s A Tear In My Beer” wins two honors during the 23rd annual Country Music Association awards at Nashville’s Grand Ole Opry House: Vocal Event and Music Video of the Year, directed by Ethan Russell
– 1978, Dolly Parton’s dress splits as she walks off with the Country Music Association’s Entertainer of the Year award during the 12th annual ceremony at Nashville’s Grand Ole Opry House
- 2011, Rascal Flatts joins the Grand Ole Opry, performing three songs in the process: “Why Wait,” “I Won’t Let Go” and “Life Is A Highway.” Former Brooks & Dunn member Ronnie Dunn also makes his solo Opry debut
- 2003, Dolly Parton and Melissa Etheridge tape an episode of “CMT Crossroads,” hosted by Radney Foster, at the Sony Television Studios in Los Angeles. The women join voices on “9 To 5,” “I Will Always Love You” and Johnny Cash’s “I Walk The Line”
- 1994, Toby Keith takes up residence at #1 on the Billboard chart with “Who’s That Man”
- 1957, Jerry Lee Lewis records “Great Balls Of Fire” at the Sun Recording Studio in Memphis
Jason Aldean Moves on With Old Boots, New Dirt
On “Old Boots, New Dirt,” the title track of Jason Aldean‘s sixth album, the country superstar addresses the aftermath of the cheating scandal that took over his life in 2012.
Photographed kissing former American Idol contestant Brittany Kerr at an L.A. club while still married, Aldean instantly became the face of every tabloid in the country.
“It’s a guy getting out of a situation that he had been in and looking for a place to start over, looking for a chance at a clean slate,” Aldean told CMT.com about the song. “He just picks a town and says, ‘I don’t know where I’m going or what’s going on. I’m a little worn down, but it’s me, and I’m looking for a place to hang my hat now and escape the past a little bit and put some things behind me.'”
In real life, the singer is eager to move on as well. He and Kerr are now engaged, and the album’s first single “Burnin’ It Down” has reached the Top 10 on Billboard‘s country airplay chart.
In an interview at CMT’s offices in Nashville, Aldean comes clean about his evolving sound, defends his new single’s most controversial line and acknowledges the 800-pound gorilla in the room.
CMT.com: When you came out with “Hicktown” in 2005, it was unlike anything else at the time. Do you feel like the rest of country music has caught up to that style now?
Aldean: I think when we hit the scene, this country/rock/edge thing we were doing, nobody else was doing it. It was something we brought in. And I think over the years — like anything in Nashville — if anything works, every label in town tries to go out and find something that mimics that. So eventually anything that was cool at one point, everybody’s gonna start doing it and it’s not gonna be cool anymore.
That, for us, is the thing. Instead of falling behind and following suit with what everybody else does, I’m always looking for ways to go out and try something else. If everybody is — for lack of a better term — copping your style, let’s go do something else.
I tell people all the time, it’s like having a shiny new red truck. If you get a shiny new red truck, it’s really cool until all your friends get the same truck, and then it’s not really that cool anymore, so you need to go trade it in and get another one.
The new songs sounded influenced by ’90s R&B to me. Did you listen to Boyz II Men and stuff like that?
Yeah, of course. I think all of that stuff was really big at the time I was a teenager.
The reason I ask is because it seems like synthesizers and drum machines are coming back, even on your music.
I think a lot of times what people do is look to the pop world and whatever is going on in pop music. They take that and try to incorporate it into whatever they’re doing, whether it’s a drum loop or vocal effects or whatever it is.
But it’s also like country music is scared to be the innovators of that stuff. They want to make sure it’s cool and that it works for everybody else, and then they go, “OK, I’ll try that. Maybe I’ll ease that in here.”
I never want to be scared to try new things. I want to be the first to do stuff and not feel like I’m just following in whatever everybody else is doing. And I’ve always been that way. I draw from a lot of influences, whether it be blues or hip-hop or R&B, ’90s country, ’70s country and even stuff that’s going on today. I got an 11-year-old and a 7-year-old that play music I’ve never heard of, and I hear stuff all the time that I’m like, “Who is that?” It gives me ideas, too.
“Burnin’ It Down” is one of those steamy, R&B-flavored songs, and one of the things people seem to remember is the “nekkid in my bed” line. Did you have any idea that would be so noteworthy?
I had a feeling. I had a feeling just because when “Hicktown” came out, it was the “butt crack” line. That was the one line that everybody was like, “Oh, that’s the butt crack song.” If that’s how you gotta remember it, then that’s exactly what it is. It’s the butt crack song. But sometimes all it takes is that one word or one phrase that makes people go, “Oh, yeah, that’s the song that talks about being nekkid in bed.” Yup, that’s the one.
The title track seems really relevant to your personal life at the moment. Is that part of why you liked it?
Absolutely. That’s the main reason I liked it, honestly. You know, over the last couple of years, my personal life has just been on blast and out there for everybody to have an opinion on, and it’s been the focus of everything for me. No matter what I did in my career, my personal life was the focus of everything. And it’s just a drag, man. It’s really annoying to me.
The fact is, you know, shit happens. It’s life, and things happen. And you deal with it, and you move on and you don’t sit there and dwell on it. And we’re trying to move past all this stuff, but you can’t because people are always bringing it up. And, for me, this album was a way to escape and get away from that … channel my energy into something that was positive.
I put everything I had into the record, and now coming on the other side of it, I’ve got a lot of the things that were weighing me down in the rearview mirror, and I’m looking forward to what the future holds both personally and professionally. And I hope that the focus now will shift to my music and things like that, which it should be on. To me, that’s the metaphor that sums it all up and is a way of me saying, “All right. This shit is over. I’m tired of talking about it. Quit bringing it up. Let’s move on.”
- 2012, Mary Chapin Carpenter is inducted into the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame along with Tony Arata (“The Dance”), Kim Williams (“Three Wooden Crosses”) and Larry Henley (“The Wind Beneath My Wings”) at the Renaissance Nashville Hotel
– 2006, Big & Rich and Lynyrd Skynyrd perform a benefit concert at the HiFi Buys Amphitheatre in Atlanta to raise funds for a memorial to the 173rd Airborne, the division commemorated in “8th Of November.” Also appearing: John Anderson, The Lost TrailersÂ and Cowboy Troy
– 2000, Chris LeDoux has a liver transplant in Omaha, Nebraska, after discovering he has primary sclerosing cholangitis
– 1940, Bill Monroe has his first recording session with the Blue Grass Boys, at the Kimball Hotel in Atlanta, for RCA Records. Among the day’s tracks: “Mule Skinner Blues”