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Blue Moon Of Kentucky

by

Bill Monroe



Songfacts®:  You can leave comments about the song at the bottom of the page.

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." (thanks, Bob - Comox, B.C., Canada)
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.
Bill Monroe
More Bill Monroe songs
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Comments (6):

Question: Why is the moon in Kentucky blue?
I've never been to Kentucky. I really want to know.
-Knob, Japan
- nobuo, tkyo, Japan
As written in '25 Albums that Rocked the World' Book by Chris Charlesworth, Geoff Brown, David Buckley and Andrew Doe : "Presley worked similar magic on the flipside, a bluegrass tune by the father of the genre, Bill Monroe. His original had the “high lonesome” sound of Forties bluegrass, with keening vocals and a tight, restrained rhythm. Elvis started out singing the song that way, then cut loose the chains and played it like an uptempo blues tune. By the time the record was finished, it was hard to tell which side was country and which was blues."
- DeeTheWriter, Saint Petersburg, Russia Federation
Monroe had a bluegrass festival in Bean Blossom, Indiana every summer. He only allowed traditional bluegrass bands (acoustic instruments only, no "newgrass" songs) to play in the festival. Very traditional, but really good music. Yes, the Bluegrass Boys played "Blue Moon of Kentucky." The Festival is still around:

http://www.beanblossom.com/

I've attended once, and was blown away. You could stroll around the parking lot and hear many amateurs and pros getting down in the back of a truck. I wish I'd had a tape recorder...
- Pat, Albuquerque, NM
Also covered by Al Kooper on his first solo album, "I Stand Alone", presumably as a put-on (since it ends with him saying, "This sounds just like the Byrds.").
- John, Cincinnati, OH
This is one of "sir" [:-)]Paul McCa's favourites, he often sings it on interviews and early solo gigs, when he doesn't want to play a Beatles song, which is of course what everbody's waiting for.
He once sang it with George and Ringo, though (cf. The Beatles Anthology).
- JL, French Guyana
This was also covered by Rick Nelson on "Rick's Rareties".
- Sara, Greenville, AL
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