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Album: Dancing In The MoonlightReleased: 1973Charted:
This song envisions a place of joy and harmony, where everyone gets along dancing under the moonlit sky.
It was written by keyboard player/songwriter Sherman Kelly in 1969 after a trip to the Caribbean island of Saint Croix, where he was attacked by natives and left for dead. While he was recovering from his injuries, he wrote this song. "I envisioned an alternate reality," Kelly wrote on this website
. "The dream of a peaceful and joyful celebration of life."
The first band to record this song was Boffolongo, which was fronted by Larry Hoppen. The group recorded their debut album in 1969, and for their next album, released in 1970, Sherman Kelly joined the band on keyboards and brought them his song "Dancing In The Moonlight." Kelly's brother Wells also joined the band, and this original version of the song featured Hoppen on guitar, Sherman on lead vocals, and Wells on drums.
In 1971, Wells Kelly paid a visit to the band King Harvest, who were working on a new album in Paris (his former Boffolongo bandmate Dave "Doc" Robinson was in the band). Wells came armed with some albums from America and also a copy of Boffolongo's "Dancing In The Moonlight," which King Harvest decided to record, this time with a more keyboard-driven sound and smoother production. The single, with lead vocals by Robinson, was released in Europe but stiffed; it was rescued by an American label called Perception Records that issued the song Stateside.
The song ended up being an enduring hit for the band, and their only song to make much of an impact ("A Little Bit Like Magic" made #91 a few months later). Sherman Kelly joined the group on tour after the song hit the charts.
Wells Kelly, who died in 1984, founded the group Orleans in 1972 with Larry Hoppen.
British band Toploader had a #7 hit in the UK with a cover of this after it was featured in a Sainsbury supermarket TV advert.
Every line of the lyric ends with a word rhyming with "light":Everybody here is out of sight
They don't bark and they don't bite
They keep things loose they keep it tight
Everybody's dancing in the moonlight
Around this same time, there was another hit with a similar rhyming scheme: "I Saw The Light
" by Todd Rundgren.
This song was used in the TV miniseries The '70s
. In it, one of the female main characters happens to be present at the recording, where the band is using the lyrics "Singing In the Moonlight." The young girl comments that she personally likes "Dancing" in the moonlight and they change the lyrics.