Don’t Forget the Songs-365: Mach Tres: Day 018
Tues, Feb 12, 2013
“The Killing Moon [All Night Version]”
Echo and the Bunnymen
When it comes to the legend of Echo and the Bunnymen’s “The Killing Moon” you have to learn to separate the myth from Mac The Mouth. Always the spokesman for The Bunnymen, lead singer and principle songwriter extraordinaire Ian McCulloch, best known by his infamous moniker Mac The Mouth by the UK music press, never failed to liven up a music article in the NME or Melody Maker with his hilariously pointed quotes. Here are some of my favorites:
There was the time when McCulloch, praising Echo’s “The Killing Moon” told Uncut Magazine UK, “You don’t need to read The Bible, and you can listen to ‘The Killing Moon’ and get as much out of it. It’s the greatest song ever written.” Or how about when asked why he and the Bunnymen self-produced Ocean Rain, the album which Ian called the greatest of all time also contained “The Killing Moon,” McCulloch proudly said, “It had to be, otherwise it would have been like Shakespeare giving his plays to an editor and saying, ‘ponce ‘em up a bit and make ‘em commercial.” But my favorite Mac The Mouth quote has to be when asked how he wrote “The Killing Moon” Ian responded by telling Mojo Magazine, “I woke up with that lyric, ‘Fate up against your will,’ as if God had given it to me in my sleep. Recently I realized what it is – it’s that soliloquy, ‘To be or not to be’ – but it’s even better, because I’m f—in’ singing it.”
After calming down, McCulloch actually talked seriously about how he actually penned “The Killing Moon” when he said, “I got out of bed and picked up my acoustic and sang the words through. I worked out it was a five fret job and it just worked. Lou Reed said that five fret chords are the best and he was right.”
Like David Bowie one of Mac’s heroes, both were highly influenced by Lou Reed and The Velvet Underground. Mac said about this of Sweet Lou, “At his best, [Lou Reed] is unbeatable. What’s great about Lou Reed is that when you go to New York, you realize it’s exactly how he writes about it. He doesn’t make anything up; his songs are like a documentary about the place—[NYC.] He always sounds detached from what he’s singing but he’s actually in the thick of it.”
“The Killing Moon” may have had the structure of a VU song, the lyrics and sound was more Bowie than Lou Reed. “The Velvets were always such an influence when we were writing—not specific chords, but a feeling. When “The Killing Moon” hit me out of the blue like that it was beautiful, and I will never forget that moment. Lots of people don’t think it’s that amazing but it is definitely the best song the Bunnymen ever wrote. “The Killing Moon” was the shining jewel in all of the 80’s songwriting.”
Thanks to Donnie Darko “The Killing Moon” will live on in cinematic history as a timeless song. But just listen to it, “The Killing Moon” is poetry. No one can sing like Ian McCulloch and I’ve seen Echo and The Bunnymen in concert. Mac, Will Sergeant and the Bunnymen are the real deal. “The Killing Moon” sounds like a classic painting coming to life in your mind. It could reflect the colors of love, loss, beauty, pain all on the Echo’s canvas of sound. Mac said this about being in a band that crafts songs like “The Killing Moon,” “Just being in the Bunnymen gives me confidence. It’s not what we do for a living—it’s what we do in life. Heartbreak songs are always for individuals—it’s not for the mass audience. I know, and Will knows, and quiet a few of our fans know. It’s a hard thing to do—to be that special; I wouldn’t have been in any other group.”
But that’s why we listened to Echo & The Bunnymen; if you get through the Mouth you will experience the majesty of songs like “The Killing Moon.” Ian McCulloch used to say that singing ‘The Killing Moon” made him shiver just to sing it, just listen to it and you will be shivering. Listening to this dynamic, extended director’s cut ‘All Night Version’ of “The Killing Moon” is like experiencing Frances Ford Coppola’s epic Apocalypse Now redux.
Both “Now” and “Moon” are expanded and even more poetically memorable. Uncut Magazine UK wrote this about Ocean Rain, the Echo & The Bunnymen album which included “The Killing Moon,” as “when Mac described Ocean Rain as ‘the greatest album ever made’ it sounded less like hyperbole than statement of fact.” It makes you wonder if “The Killing Moon” is one of the greatest songs, from Ocean Rain the one of the best albums by one of the finest acts in UK history. Just ask Mac, I’m sure he’ll tell all about it and so much more. Do yourself a favor forget get Mac The Mouth, Echo and The Bunnymen’s “The Killing Moon” is definitely worth the ego trip.