The Moon is a Harsh Mistress

Album: The Best of Glen Campbell (1974)
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Songfacts®:

  • The song's writer Jimmy Webb took the title from a 1966 science fiction novel of the same name by Robert A Heinlein.
  • Uncut magazine asked Webb how this song fits into his canon. The songwriter replied: "The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress was a song that became a standard without ever becoming a hit and was symbiotic of that decade of my life, my struggle, my failure, my angst, my pride and even scorn... and ultimately my crash - literally, as it turns out. I flew my Schweizer 2-32 flat into the side of Mt. Baden Powell with my buddy Henry Diltz in the rear cockpit snapping photos. How could I keep pounding my head into this wall? Every time I thought it would kill me! I remember crying tears because Gus Dudgeon wouldn't agree to produce a record for me. Gus who? And yet there is 'The Moon' recorded by Judy Collins, Joe Cocker, Joan Baez, Linda Ronstadt, Shawn Colvin, Pat Metheny, Glen Campbell. A list of people who got it. I began to rationalize my albums as expensive demos. Why not?"

Comments: 3

  • Øivind Enger from NorwayIn my opinion the late Norwegian singer Radka Toneff has one of the most beautiful versions of this song. It appears on her album Fairytales. She sings it accompanied by Steve Dobrogosz on piano. I have read that the two recorded this on their first "take" win no rehearsal. Sadly Toneff died just months after the song was recorded.
  • Patti from UkLoved this song in an instant. Beautiful and emotive lyrics lend themselves to Mr Campbell's rendition of a tune that needed composing and performing by him. A song to love forever...
  • Staley from Dallas, TxJimmy Webb may have gotten the title from a Heinlein novel, but Heinlein got it from Walt Whitman. This is another of Webb's most beautiful melodies, though the lyrics are a little on the opaque, overly poetic side.
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