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Elvis SongPedia: Blue Moon Of Kentucky

Blue Moon Of Kentucky

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Basic Stats

(Just the facts, ma'am!)

Written by: Bill Monroe

Recorded: July 6, 1954, Memphis Recording Service (Sun Studio), Memphis

Single: w/ "That's All Right (Mama)", Sun 209 (45rpm and 78rpm), July 19, 1954 - Elvis' very first single
RCA 47-6380 (20-6380 for 78rpm), November 1955
Also re-released as Gold Standard Series, 447-0601, March 1959

Highest U.S. Charts Positions:
Did not chart nationally, but by September 1954 was #1 locally in Memphis.

1st LP release: A Date With Elvis - September 1959
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"Blue Moon of Kentucky"
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For other versions, see
Lyrics and Downloads section below.

My Spin

(Just my opinion. Give us yours!)
As even the most casual fan knows, Elvis' very first single was "That's All Right (Mama)" backed with "Blue Moon Of Kentucky". Although "That's All Right" gets most of the attention as being Elvis' first single, "Blue Moon Of Kentucky" was just as popular at the time, and both sides got a lot of airplay in Memphis and throughout the region.

Bill Monroe, considered the father of bluegrass music, and his brothers, Charlie and Birch, had enjoyed a few country hits as the Monroe Brothers, and he had just broken with them to form a band on his own, including Lester Flatt and Earl Scruggs, calling it the Bluegrass Boys, after an earlier hit by the brothers, "Blue Grass Ramble". In 1947 they recorded "Blue Moon Of Kentucky" and it quickly became Bill Monroe's signature song.

In July of 1954, Sam Phillips, Elvis, Scotty Moore and Bill Black were in the studio trying to come up with a song to go along with "That's All Right (Mama)". They tried "Blue Moon Of Kentucky" in much the same style as the original, but it wasn't until Elvis, Scotty and Bill began fooling around with it, playing it in the same jumping style as "That's All Right", that Sam got excited. Tapes of that recording session surfaced in the 1970s, and just when the song begins to take shape as an up-tempo rockabilly classic, Sam's comments at that point say it all: "Hell, that's fine! That's different! That's a pop song now, nearly 'bout! That's good!"

It was probably "That's All Right" that got the first airplay the night of July 7th by Dewey Phillips (no relation) of WHBQ. After both songs were recorded, Sam had made acetate demo records and distributed them to local radio stations. It's not certain who first played "Blue Moon Of Kentucky", though. It may have been Dewey, or it may have been Sleepy-Eyed John Lepley of WHHM, or Uncle Richard of WMPS. The record was officially released on July 19th. "That's All Right" made it to #4 locally, but by September 1954, "Blue Moon Of Kentucky" was the number one song in Memphis.

The song eventually got so much attention that Bill Monroe released an up-tempo version himself. Elvis and Sam Phillips had both worried about Bill Monroe's reaction to their recording. After all, this was the signature song of the Father of Bluegrass, and they practically turned it into a rhythm and blues song. Apparently, sometime later, Bill spotted Sam and said, "Are you the man who released Elvis Presley's version of my song?" Sam fessed up, and Bill said, "Well, I just want to thank you. I made more money in royalties from his version of that song than anything I ever wrote."

When I first got my copy of The Sun Sessions in 1976, what struck me about the beginning of "Blue Moon Of Kentucky" is that it sounded like it flowed smoothly as a continuation from the end of "That's All Right", they almost blended together as a medley, they sounded so similar. That intro sounded like it was designed to be "That's All Right, Part 2". I especially like that nice boogie-woogie step-down through the line "blue moon keep on a shinin' bright, ya gonna bring me back my baby tonight", then Elvis notches it back up to get in line for the main melody. You can imagine that in 1954 on Memphis radio, by the time listeners got to that part in the song and began to recognize what used to be Bill Monroe's classic, they already knew this was something different and something a little bit alien! Think about it, for a 19 year old kid in Memphis in 1954 to take songs from Big Boy Crudup and Bill Monroe and make them sound the same as each other, well, that's pretty radical!

Today, more than 50 years later, I'd have to agree with Sam: "Hell, that's fine!"

Other Spins

(What did the critics and fans say?)

'Blue Moon Of Kentucky' is different in tempo. Presley's voice is still in its highest register, but the song is transformed into a fast rockabilly style. Bill Black's bass work is breathtaking, and this performance doubtless influenced later singers such as Don Cole.

Robert Matthew-Walker, Elvis Presley: A Study in Music, 1979

Check out other Elvis fans' opinions on the Elvis News page for Blue Moon Of Kentucky.

Check out other opinions at Rate Your Music

"Blue Moon Of Kentucky" Links

"Blue Moon Of Kentucky" Lyrics and Downloads

Blue moon, blue moon, blue moon,
keep shining bright.
Blue moon, keep on shining bright,
You're gonna bring me back my baby tonight,
Blue moon, keep shining bright.

I said blue moon of Kentucky
keep on shining,
Shine on the one that's gone and left me blue.
I said blue moon of Kentucky
keep on shining,
Shine on the one that's gone and left me blue.

Well, it was on one moonlight night,
Stars shining bright,
Wish blown high
Love said good-bye.

Blue moon of Kentucky
Keep on shining.
Shine on the one that's gone and left me blue.

Well, I said blue moon of Kentucky
Just keep on shining.
Shine on the one that's gone and left me blue.
I said blue moon of Kentucky
keep on shining.
Shine on the one that's gone and left me blue.

Well, it was on one moonlight night,
Stars shining bright,
Wish blown high
Love said good-bye.

Blue moon of Kentucky
Keep on shining.
Shine on the one that's gone and left me blue.

Download the Karaoke Version!

Blue Moon Of Kentucky karaoke - Elvis PresleyBlue Moon Of Kentucky
Elvis Presley

Download or just listen to different versions from Amazon!

What's YOUR Spin?!
What do YOU think of "Blue Moon Of Kentucky"? Yea or Nea?

Yea! Classic Rockabilly!

Nea! Gone And Left Me Blue.

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Elvis song reference books on Amazon!

Ernst Jorgensen's complete chronicle of Elvis' recording sessions, with loads of detailed information about each session and each song.
This is the definitive encyclopedia on Elvis' life details, as well as all the background and trivia you need for all the songs, movies, and TV appearances. Authors are Fred L. Worth and Steve D. Tamerius.
The subtitle of Ace Collins' book says it all: "The stories behind Elvis' #1 hits"!
"Elvis The #1 Hits: The Secret History of the Classics". Another self-explanatory book title. :)