Monday, March 15, 2010

Rory Gallagher: Blue Moon Of Kentucky

With St. Patrick’s Day coming this Wednesday, I’d thought I’d feature an entire week of Irish musicians. With Monday’s feature always being a cover tune, I began looking for covers that the late great Rory Gallagher had performed. While searching, I was amazed at the sheer number of good quality live recordings that exist for Rory, who happens to be one of my favorite guitarists at all time. After listening to several of his cover recordings, I decided on this live rendition of the Bill Monroe classic: “Blue Moon of Kentucky.”

Rory’s rendition comes from the 2003 compilation CD, “Wheels Within Wheels” and features Rory on Guitar, Bela Fleck on banjo, and Mark Feltham on harmonica.

Bill Monroe’s Original from 1947

The original was released by Bill Monroe and the Bluegrass boys in 1947 and features band members Lester Flatt and Earl Scruggs before they left Monroe to start the Foggy Mountain Boys. Monroe’s original is a medium tempo waltz (3/4 time) and is the official bluegrass song of the Commonwealth of Kentucky.

Elvis’ 1954 Cover

The most famous cover of this song was recorded in 1954 by Elvis Presley and was the flip side of the single “That’s All Right Mama.” Bassist Bill Black suggested that Elvis record the song; however, it is far from the original. Elvis, Bill Black, and guitarist Scotty Moore transformed the song from a waltz to up-tempo rocker in common (4/4) time. Throughout the south where the single had its best exposure, DJs often flipped the record and played “Blue Moon of Kentucky” over the A side.

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