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The Killing Moon

"The Killing Moon" is a song by the band Echo & the Bunnymen. It was released on 20 January 1984 as the lead single from their 1984 album, Ocean Rain. It is one of the band's highest-charting hits, reaching number nine in the UK Singles Chart, and often cited as the band's greatest song. Ian McCulloch has said: "When I sing "The Killing Moon", I know there isn't a band in the world who's got a song anywhere near that". In a retrospective review of the song, Allmusic journalist Stewart Mason wrote: "The smart use of strings amplifies the elegance of the tune, bringing both a musical richness and a sense of quiet dignity to the tune".

Lyrics

According to the liner notes of Echo and the Bunnymen's Crystal Days box set, Ian McCulloch woke up one morning with the phrase "fate up against your will" in mind. In a 2015 interview McCulloch said: "I love (the song) all the more because I didn’t pore over it for days on end. One morning, I just sat bolt upright in bed with this line in my head: 'Fate up against your will. Through the thick and thin. He will wait until you give yourself to him.' You don’t dream things like that and remember them. That’s why I’ve always half credited the lyric to God. It’s never happened before or since". McCulloch attributed the use of astronomical imagery in the song to a childhood interest in space.

Music

The chords of the song were based on David Bowie's "Space Oddity", played backwards. The arrangement of the song was partially inspired by balalaika music that Les Pattinson and Will Sergeant had heard in Russia. The guitar solo had been recorded separately by Sergeant whilst tuning up and was inserted in the song at the suggestion of producer David Lord. The strings on the track are a combination of Adam Peters' cello and keyboards played by the producer.

Track listing

  • UK 12" # "The Killing Moon" (All Night Version) – 9:11 # "The Killing Moon" – 5:50 # "Do It Clean" (Recorded live at the Royal Albert Hall London 18 July 1983) – 6:36

    Chart positions

    Cover versions

    Cover versions of "The Killing Moon" include:
  • 1997: Pavement recorded the song on their January 1997 BBC Radio 1 Evening Session, later included on their final EP, Major Leagues.
  • 2001: The Quakes covered the song on their album Last of Human Beings.
  • 2006: Nouvelle Vague's bossa nova version opened their Bande à Part album.
  • 2006: Grant-Lee Phillips featured the song on his covers album, Nineteeneighties.
  • 2007: The Distants covered the song for the Blood & Chocolate soundtrack.
  • 2009: Greg Laswell recorded a version on his Covers EP.
  • 2010: The Great Crusades covered the song on their album Fiction To Shame.
  • 2012: Jack Lukeman recorded a version for his album The 27 Club.
  • 2017: Roman Remains covered the song for the soundtrack of the Netflix series 13 Reasons Why.
  • 2017: A-ha covered the song with Ian McCulloch for MTV Unplugged – Summer Solstice live album.

    In pop culture

  • "The Killing Moon" was featured in the original theatrical version of the opening sequence of the cult film Donnie Darko. However, in the director's cut version of the film, the song is replaced by INXS's "Never Tear Us Apart", with "The Killing Moon" being placed later in the movie.
  • The song also appeared in the films Gia and The Girl Next Door and in the TV series Dead of Summer .
  • The song was included on the soundtrack for Grosse Pointe Blank.
  • The song was included on the soundtrack for the 11th episode of the second season of Netflix series 13 Reasons Why.
  • The song was included on the soundtrack for the 10th episode of the third season of Netflix series 13 Reasons Why.
  • The song was included on the soundtrack for the fourth episode of the third season of Amazon series Red Oaks.
  • The song was included on the soundtrack for the fifth episode of the second season of the show '' Misfits.
  • The song was featured in the fifth episode of the third season of the show Billions.
  • The song was included on disc for the 2010 game Rock Band 3.
  • The song is featured in the 2019 SyFy series Deadly Class.
  • The song is featured in the Titans episode "Deathstroke."
  • The song is featured in the Mrs. Fletcher episode "Welcome Back."
  • The song is most recently featured in the 7th episode of the first season of Netflix's series I Am Not Okay With This.