Richard Rodgers and Lorenz Hart wrote this for the 1934 movie Manhattan Melodrama
- starring Clark Gable, William Powell and Myrna Loy - where it was performed by Shirley Ross in a nightclub scene. The song was originally called "The Bad in Every Man," befitting the story of Gable's kind-hearted criminal, but was rejected by MGM until it was re-worked as "Blue Moon."
Rodgers and Hart wrote many songs for Broadway plays, including "The Lady is a Tramp
" and "My Funny Valentine
" for Babes in Arms
(1937). In 1948 a movie was made about the duo called Words And Music
. It starred Mickey Rooney as Lorenz Hart.
This was also used in the movies Words And Music (1948); Malaya (1949); East Side, West Side (1950); and With A Song In My Heart (1952) before Elvis Presley recorded it for Sun Records in 1954.
Three different versions of the song appear in the 1981 film An American Werewolf in London: by Bobby Vinton, Sam Cooke, and The Marcels.
Producer Stu Phillips was ordered by his boss not to waste time on the Marcels and to spend his days devoted to a different artist at Colpix Records. But he didn't say anything about his nights. Phillips waited until everyone else had gone home and sneaked the band into the studio for a secret session. They recorded this at the last minute when they recorded three songs and needed a fourth. When one of the members said he knew "Blue Moon," Phillips told him to teach the song to the rest of the group in an hour, then they'd record it.
The introduction to the song was an excerpt of an original song that the group had in its act - Phillips added it to "Blue Moon" to give it a flair that the group was lacking in their other songs.
The Marcels recorded this in two takes. A promotion man asked and got a copy of the finished tape, which found its way to legendary DJ Murray The K. He promoted it as an "exclusive" and played it 26 times on one show.
The followup song, "Summertime," recorded a month after this, stalled at #78. Eight months later, the group hit #7 with "Heartaches," a song that begins with "Watch out! Here we go again..." Guy Lombardo took it to #12 in 1931 and Ted Weems topped the charts with it in 1947.
Richard Rodgers hated the Marcels' doo-wop arrangement of this song so much that he took out advertisements in the music papers urging people not to buy it. (thanks, Emery - London, England)
This has been covered by a slew of artists, including Louis Armstrong, Tony Bennett, and Django Reinhardt.
Sam Cooke recorded a little-known version of this. It was on the LP The Wonderful World of Sam Cooke under the label KEEN. The rare 45 rpm recording of this song was on the rainbow KEEN label. (thanks, Tracy - Beaumont, TX)
In the movie Grease this was used in a scene at the dance where it was interrupted by students "mooning." (thanks, Sharon - New York, NY)
A blue moon is a real astronomical phenomenon when a second full moon appears. When that actually happens depends on who you ask. The modern definition simply asserts that it's when two full moons occur in the same calendar month. The original definition, however, is a little more complicated. About every 2.7 years, there are four full moons in a season instead of three - the third moon, not the fourth, is dubbed the blue moon. The rarity of the occasion inspired the old saying "once in a blue moon."
Incidentally, neither definition involves the moon's color. Although it can take on a bluish cast when ash is in the atmosphere, that is not technically a blue moon. (Learn more about blue moons from the Library of Congress
Many other artists have recorded unrelated songs called "Blue Moon," including Big Star, Beck
, Moby and Steve Holy, while others incorporated the phrase in the title, like Stevie Wonder ("Moon Blue"); Bill Monroe ("Blue Moon Of Kentucky
"); John Fogerty ("Blue Moon Nights"); Merle Haggard ("When My Blue Moon Turns to Gold Again"); Traveling Wilburys ("New Blue Moon"); Toby Keith ("Does That Blue Moon Ever Shine On You"); Edie Brickell and New Bohemians ("Once in a Blue Moon"); Van Morrison ("Once in a Blue Moon"); Dolly Parton ("Once in a Very Blue Moon"); Children of Bodom ("Bodom Blue Moon"); and more!