"Blue Moon" is a song on Beck's upcoming album, Morning Phase.
Beck explained in a radio interview that "Blue Moon" was not recorded with the rest of Morning Phase, and instead of featuring his band, he made it "at home while fooling around." He even referred to it as a "demo." Beck then forgot about it until the last minute, when he pulled it out and it seemed to fit with the rest of the album he had been working on and included it on the record. Ironically, it then became the lead-off representative single for Morning Phase.
There is, of course, a very famous song called "Blue Moon," one of Elvis' biggest and earliest hits. It includes the lines "Blue moon / you saw me standing alone" and clearly uses the rare event of a blue moon to symbolize the rare event of finding love. You can read about the song here
. It goes back farther than Elvis too. Most directly, Beck uses a line or two as a jumping point for his own song.
Beck noted the song's connection to Elvis in a couple of interviews. In one, he told Filter Magazine, that the song "came to him" while reading Peter Gualnick's biography of Elvis, Careless Love: The Unmaking Of Elvis Presley
. As he wrote "Blue Moon," Beck was imagining Elvis at the end of his career, isolated by fame. "[Elvis] was far removed from where he started, which was this sort of beautiful, pure place. He was just this kid who wanted to play music," Beck explained. (He's mentioned "isolation" in regards to this song a few times.)
Beck took "Blue Moon" to a more universal place. In one interview, he compared it to the sparse imagery of a Hank Williams song (Austin City Limits interview, April 2014). Expanding on Elvis' situation, he continued, "And that's just the way life is. It's like the Talking Heads song - 'how did I get here?' What is it? And I think that's what happens around that period in your life. You get to a certain point where you're just, 'How did I...?' I was thinking about Elvis at that moment and that was heartbreaking to me." [Quote from Filter Magazine Feb. 2014].
As you can see in the lyrics, the song is about feeling trapped, and a longing to be saved. Is that what Beck saw in Elvis' situation? Probably. But it also fits nicely with the other songs of Morning Phase, considering "Blue Moon" was written much earlier than most.
"Blue Moon"'s music infuses the dark themes with a bit of hope, the chirpy clavinet and gorgeous vocal harmonies bringing some uplift to its lonesome lyrics.
Played live 100 times:
March 1, 2014March 31, 2014April 9, 2014April 13, 2014April 16, 2014April 20, 2014April 22, 2014April 23, 2014April 24, 2014April 26, 2014
...and 90 more
Earliest known live version: March 1, 2014
Latest known live version: July 15, 2017Morning Phase - 2014 version
"Blue Moon" was probably the key Morning Phase song for the stage show on the 2014 tours. Beck played 57 shows, and "Blue Moon" at 55 of them. He also did it two other times before the tour started on TV.
The live debut came on Saturday Night Live, when Beck's band included Father John Misty as an extra guitarist. A few weeks later, they also did it on Ellen, but with Chris Price as the extra guitarist. During the actual tours, for the first leg, there was no extra guitarist, and then Jason Falkner joined the group permanently in that position.
Anyway, the song did not sound different from the record, really at all. They basically recreated it on stage. The song sounds good, and has many different sections that all flow quite nicely and naturally. The ending of the song had a bit of aggression to it actually, as they all jammed out on their acoustic guitars. It will be quite interesting to see where the song goes in the future.