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Album: Blue Moon Of KentuckyReleased: 1946
Bill Monroe wrote this song in 1946, and recorded the first version of the song playing mandolin and backed by his band the Blue Grass Boys. Monroe, who died in 1996, was one of the most famous Bluegrass musicians of all time (the name "Bluegrass" is derived from his backing band - "The Blue Grass Boys"). Kentucky is his home state, and in this song he is heartbroken over a girl who left him, but wishes her well.
Elvis Presley recorded this as the B-side to "That's All Right (Mama)" in 1954. It was his first single with Sun Records, recorded during his second Sun session on July 6, 1954. Presley's recording became the best-known version of the song, and is an early example of what was to become known as Rockabilly, a combination of Blues and Country together with an uptempo beat. Over the years, Presley recorded many uptempo songs with heartbreaking lyrics - a good example is "I Gotta Know
The state of Kentucky made this their official Bluegrass song.
Other artists who covered this include Paul McCartney, Carl Perkins, Ray Charles and LeAnn Rimes. Al Kooper recorded it on his debut solo album I Stand Alone
. This is the album with Al's face inserted over a photo of the Statue of Liberty - and remember, there was no Photoshop in 1968! Kooper's cover was ill-fated; right about this time was when his former Blood Sweat & Tears bandmates started saying negative things about him in the press. As he puts it in Backstage Passes and Backstabbing Bastards
, "They depicted me as some demonic egomaniac with whips and chains who kept them all in cages." The press had never had anything to characterize Al Kooper by up until this point, so they latched onto this. The Statue-of-Liberty photo hacking didn't help.