Sunday, September 2, 2012

Ode To The Original Man In The Moon

(From today's Times and News-Star)

Neil Armstrong was a childhood hero of mine, right up there with Brooks Robinson, Johnny U., Charley Pride, Roger Miller, Floyd Cramer, Lucille Ball, A.A. Milne, Andy Griffith and the man who wrote the Hardy Boys books.

Studs, every last one.

Like many my age, I had the models of all Apollo spacecraft, back when boys used to glue together models. My little plastic connecting arm eventually broke off my lunar module and I couldn’t get it hooked up to the command module, so I had to hold them both and pretend. Fortunately, this did not happen to the Apollo 11 crew. 

I wonder if Neil Armstrong ever looked at the moon and wondered what it would look like on the night he died. We know now: it was a bit more than half full on its way to this past Friday’s blue moon, the second full moon of August and a nice astronomic tribute to the original man in – or on – the moon.

Here’s another tribute, though not as celestial. In honor of both the first man to step foot on the moon and all of the life-risking space pioneers of that age, here is the definitive list of the Best Songs of Alltime With ‘Moon’ In The Title.

Honorable mentions include “Paper Moon,” “Blue Moon” (…you left me standing alone), “I Talked to the Man in the Moon” by Conway Twitty, and “Sugar Moon” by Bob Wills and the Texas Playboys, which  ain’t “Tater Pie,” but it ain’t bad. 

10. “(Shine On) Harvest Moon”: This is the only song on the list written more than 100 years ago; it’s got “legs,” as they say in the biz. “Now, ain’t no time to stay/outside and spoon/ So shine on/shine on harvest moon/for me and my gal.”

9. “Shame on the Moon” by Bob Seger, though written by the versatile Rodney Crowell: Another in a long line of blame-shifting songs; this time it’s midnight’s fault and the moon’s fault but certainly not the man’s fault, even though the man is stupid. What a comforting song!

8. “When My Blue Moon Turns to Gold Again”: Even Elvis covered it, but it’s hard to beat Merle Haggard’s version for guys, Emmylou’s for girls.

7. “Dancing in the Moonlight” by King Harvest: King Harvest? Yes. They harvested one hit, but it was a good one. A bunch of “out of sight” people who “don’t bark and they don’t bite” end up “dancing in the moonlight” and it feels “bright” and it’s a “supernatural delight.” Early ’70s lyrics could get goofy.

6. “Bad Moon Rising” by CCR: Now we’re moving into some heavy hitting tunes. The title is today’s cultural cliché for “trouble.” 

5. “Blue Moon of Kentucky” by Bill Monroe and The Bluegrass Boys: This is the kind of moon that shines on the one that’s gone and left Mr. Monroe, a mandolin pickin’ fool if ever there was one, blue. 

4. “Talkin’ to the Moon” by The Gatlin Brothers: The most modern of the Top 10.

3. “Moonshine Lullaby” from “Annie Get Your Gun”: There’s more than one kind of moon shine. 

2. “Fly Me to the Moon” by ol’ blue moon eyes, Frank Sinatra: In other words, kiss me. 

1. “Moon River” by Andy Williams, written by Johnny Mercer: Usually my favorite body of “water” on the moon. But this week, it’s second. My first? In honor of Neil Armstrong, the Sea of Tranquility.