Moonlight Shadow

Album: Crises (1983)
Charted: 4
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  • This is widely regarded to be a tribute to John Lennon, who was murdered prior to Mike Oldfield writing the song.
  • Oldfield has said that this was inspired by the Tony Curtis movie Houdini.
  • Maggie Reilly sang lead on this track. She has appeared on several of Oldfield's albums.
  • The meaning of the line "Caught in the middle of a hundred and five" caused confusion for many years. Oldfield was finally asked about its meaning in an interview for his website in 1995: "Well, it was a hundred and five people, just signifying a large amount of people, and presumably it was a hundred and five rather than a hundred and four or whatever because "five" rhymed with the next line!".

    A look at the extended version of the song supports this, with the line "The crowd gathered just to leave him" creating the image of a crowd of (105) people around the man's dead body. It didn't make much sense before Mike's explanation, though, as why would 105 people be out on the banks of a river at "4 a.m. in the morning"?

    Also, the video of the song shows the scene of the incident as totally desolate and lit only by the moonlight. The only crowd of people in the video (which by no means reaches 105) are in the weird mansion house the widow runs in to, presumably in search for help. But the version of the track used for the video is the short radio edit, minus the verse describing the "crowd." So then the line "Caught in the middle of a hundred and five" was a real mystery. >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Marcus Smith-Willson - Birmingham, England

Comments: 28

  • Sky-bouncer from Manchester, EnglandFor me, this beautiful sensitive song will always bring back the memories of John Lennon’s murder.
  • Gabriel from United StatesNobody is taking into account how the spiritual realm in the things of God works. To not make this an extended explanation:
    - Victim: J. Lennon
    - 105: righteous spiritual entities that watch over Christians around the world (there are more, but these rose against him) plus some of the "other" side hired to do the dirty work.
    - 6 shots: it seemed to be a lot of shots for anyone witnessing it (they were 4)
    - 4 in the morning: really, really late in God's watch (He gave him ample time to take his words back), it was before 11 pm.
    - Woman with a crystal ball: all this operation was done by the hiring of spirits that promote witchcraft, that are otherwise useless for God's purposes. This is done in extremely exceptional situations when there is no other recourse.
    I am not justifying this death, because no death is justifiable, I am only explaining how, in my view, the spiritual realm operates based on the Bible.
    All the series of events match.
  • Jessica De Corrado from Melbourne Matt from Australia is 100% CORRECT...and thankyou, you filled in the gaps that I needed. This may seem hard to believe but at age 4 my brother and I stood infront of my uncles video camera as I pronounced "lets make a movie to the "MOONLIGHT SHADOW SONG" my brother sealed it with a kiss for me (he was 3) and this song, played out to be part of my life LITERALLY.
    All my life i dreamt of being lost in houses not being able to find my way out (re the end of the clip) then when I met (what I presume to be a twin flame) and ironically last name MOON the dreams stopped) When we met his eyes were so bright I could look at him (as stated at the time) the start of awakening, we entered a relationship which went wrong, but one night out of the blue he came to talk to me and we slept together...i awoke through kindulini rising (105) but I still don't know till this day if he did also. He was with a mate who was "on the run at the time" and left with him. I fell preg that night with my son whom I named Colson after my fav performer. His name means Dark, so i had a little dark Moon..(moonlight shadow). Ironically I laughed when I read Maggie was the "tarot magician" as i do cards and my first name means "she who foresees" and my last name means "royal sage councilour" (sage meaning also profet or herb)...i am also a sage in tarot life path number, and my child father the majician. So basically my very short film at age 4 was a real life PREDICTION which took me almost three years too work out after awakening, although the song always popped into my head all my life but I never saw the clip till last couple of years. Thankyou Matt.
  • Jonathan from UkMike Oldfield was either stringing everyone along, or he has a short memory, or cannot count. I worked it out years ago just on a hunch. Count the beats in 4s from the beginning of the song and you'll find the lyric falls slap in the middle of bar 105. Job done.
  • Matt from Australiathe song, IMO, is a kind of traditional, gnostic story of his own spiritual death, psychologically speaking of course and using Kabbalistic language/ signs. I find it fascinating that Maggie Reilly hardly looks at the camera in the video, and when she does, it's is very sheepishly, or embarrassingly, reflective might be more appropriate. Incidentally, Mag (Maggie) is the magician of the tarot, the first card, a gnostic tradition as well.
    105 would refer to Sex (1 + 0 [10 which is a Kabbalistic union of phallus and yoni] and 5 is the womb, together they make 6, which is sex), he is caught in the middle of it, and she doesn't know how to push through, ahem, ensure there is no happy ending.
    4 gnostically speaking is a door, generally a door to sex, but also the door to the knowledge of the tradition. Morning is the feminine aspect. The moon rules the animal instincts, and casts a silver shadow. All she saw was the silhouette of a gun, the phallus, from the other side, well, he's on the other side to her now. Shot by six bullets is again the sex, it has killed him/ her. She is his divine mother. She is he. River is the sexual fluid/ waters. She stayed, and preyed, that she would see him in heaven one day again, now, he is resigned to 'hell', Again, this is gnostically speaking, psychologically.
    The last time our divine mothers ever saw us individually was before the first time we had sex, gnostically speaking. She passes on worry and warning, but we don't listen to her, we are caught in the middle of it, and it carries us away in a moonlight shadow. He is caught in a desperate fight, well, who could blame him, she couldn't get through to him, "don't do it". The trees are the two trees in the Biblical story of Genesis, tree of life and of knowledge of good and evil. Saturday night is Saturn, which is the farthest planet from Earth in astrology, while the moon is the closest, so there's an opposite aspect. And yes, it is a riddle, cause how many knew. The night was heavy and air was alive, well yep.
    Sorry to be a downer, this isn't my story. Now, the most interesting part is did Mike Oldfield know this at the time of writing, or was it more an inner thing.
    PS there are many other songs out there that use this type of gnostic secrecy, Mark Knopfler's Brothers in Arms, Nik Kershaw's Riddle, to name a couple.
  • Mauricio from Mexico4 a. m in The morning?

    Anyway! Great song!

    Big fan of songfacts!!!!
  • Jan Worth from Costa RicaGood song. If you like a song, you need not try to understand the meaning. What about all those 1960's songs, probably written by people on pot or LSD, that made absolutely no sense! This song was performed by various artists... the one I liked the best was by a mulata singer called Helen DeMacque, also known as "Pepsi." There is also a karaoke version... a fairly easy song to sing. All these versions available on Youtube.
  • Marc from UdmurtiyaWell, it is sad from the beginning. "...carried away on a moonlight shadow..." has death written all over it. I never "liked" the song, but it is very catchy. Were the lyrics more "garbled", as is often the case with American pop music, I would certainly find this song pleasant. Sorry to be down on it because so many love it; but death is a downer!
  • Teresa from Mechelen, BelgiumMike Oldfield with Maggie Rilley, a real top song.
  • Bob from La Roche-posay, FranceThe song relates to the film "Houdini" as cited by Mike Oldfield in an interview.....It has been suggested that the lyrics of the song are a reference to the murder of John Lennon despite the fact that the events in the song do not correspond with those of Lennon's murder.[6][7] Lennon was shot four times just before 11pm, whereas in the song the time is 4am and the number of shots is six. When asked if Moonlight Shadow is a reference to John Lennon's murder in a 1995 interview, Oldfield responded:

    Not really... well, perhaps, when I look back on it, maybe it was. I actually arrived in New York that awful evening when he was shot and I was staying at the Virgin Records house in Perry Street, which was just a few blocks down the road from the Dakota Building where it happened, so it probably sank into my subconscious. It was originally inspired by a film I loved - 'Houdini', starring Tony Curtis, which was about attempts to contact Houdini after he'd died, through spiritualism... it was originally a song influenced by that, but a lot of other things must have crept in there without me realizing it.
    —Mike Oldfield, "Gareth Randall Interviews Mike Oldfield".
    Wikipedia "Moonlight Shadow"
  • Battista from Cornale, ItalyAbout the line "Caught in the middle of a hundred and five"; as we are talking of a killing why not thinking of a Kalashnikov AK-105 assault rifle?
  • Iztok from Kranj, Other - EuropeI am pretty sure you are wrong on Maggie Reilly singing it. Roger "Chappo" Chapman.
  • Christie from Beijing, ChinaI have a version sung by Tracy Huang, superstar from Taiwan. I was captivated by it at the first time I heard it and love it ever.
  • Juan from La Mirada, CaThis song was featured in Dance Dance Revolution 5th Mix covered by E-Rotic. It was the first time I heard this song and liked it ever since.
  • Ruth from Brisbane, AustraliaIf you watch the video there's a woman reading a crystal ball - it appears she's seeing the story in moonlight and shadows from long ago via the crystal - the mansion with people standing quietly holding candles is also strange - I love this song because it is a bit of a mystry.
  • Curd from Mannheim, GermanyAt a New Years Eve private party at a friends house a few years ago I noticed a girl dancing to this song. She wasn´t a beauty at all, but she danced every line of the song, even the echoes in the voice. Never again I saw anybody dance in such a beautiful natural way. Whoever she was, she deserves to be mentioned here on this page.
  • Edwin from Vancouver, BcWouldn't a toned down Celine Dion be able to redeem herself if she covered a tune like this? Keep it basic; just stick to the melody. It's a great tune for a whitey.
  • Mitchell from Adelaide, AustraliaThis song is just... Very confusing even though for once the artist actually tells you what it is about.
  • Jeff from Liverpool, Englandin 1979 mike oldfield recorded a version of the theme tune for bbc tv's blue peter childrens programme
  • Cecile from Rennes, FranceHow does this song relate to the film "Houdini" ? Which are the lyrics that relate to the movie ?
  • A from Fdsafds, AustraliaIt's

    "The crowd gathered just beneath him."


    "The crowd gathered just to leave him."
  • Elie from Londonthis song is really good the guitar at the end is amazin
  • T. Michels from Venlo, NetherlandsLovely song, get cold shivers everytime I hear it. The video is very mysterious, and fits the song perfect!
    Another great song by the great Oldfield.
  • Gray from Manchester, Englandtop tune,i downloaded this version the other day.its by a group called renaissance (the singer is called annie haslam)not sure which version i prefer though,they are both good!

    gray from oldham
  • Dave from Cardiff, WalesThe biggest of 12 UK hits for the man best known for his full-scale works... Other hits included "On Horseback", "In Dulci Jubilo" and "Portsmouth"
  • Cliff from Keller, TxThis is my favorite song of all time... It's sad that Mike Oldfield, though a huge influence, isn't that big to the point that people actually know his music.

    I have all 5 versions of this song, too ^_^ I so happy.
  • Jon-michael from Augusta, Georgia, Gai love this song first heard it in italy, years later i bought the cd.!
  • Luke from Manchester, EnglandThis song was used for the intro to "Dave Angel - Eco Warrior" on the TV series 'The Fast Show'
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