If you like this please consider supporting the site. Stones Data is not affiliated to the band. Your donation helps to do what I do, pay for its maintenance costs and keep the page updated daily. Thank you! *Donate here
Rolling Stones songs: Child of the Moon
*Click for MORE ROLLING STONES SONGS 1962-PRESENT
Oh, child of the moon/ Give me a misty day, pearly gray, silver, silky faced/ Wide-awake crescent-shaped smile…
Written by: Jagger/Richard
Recorded: Olympic Sound Studios, London, England, July 7-22, Oct. 16, 21 and 23 1967; March 23-29 1968
Guest musicians: Nicky Hopkins (piano)
*Data taken from Martin Elliott’s book THE ROLLING STONES COMPLETE RECORDING SESSIONS 1962-2012
As the non-LP B-side of the Rolling Stones’ “Jumping Jack Flash” single in 1968, “Child of the Moon” was one of the more obscure tracks the band released in the 1960s, although it got a slightly wider hearing when it was included in the More Hot Rocks (Big Hits & Fazed Cookies) collection in the early ’70s. Along with “Jumping Jack Flash” itself, it was the first recording the Stones released that was produced by Jimmy Miller, and was indicative of their slide toward a slightly more laid-back, funkier rock sound than they’d pursued on their more pop- and psychedelic-influenced 1966-1967 releases. The song has its champions as an undiscovered nugget of the group’s catalog, but there’s a reason it was a B-side: it’s filler, and not one of their most distinguished late-’60s efforts by any means.
There’s a bit of a drone to the melody and a pronounced drawl to the Mick Jagger lead vocal, like a bit of a hangover from the chorus crescendos of their 1967 single “We Love You.” “Child of the Moon” is a less memorable tune than “We Love You,” however, with a bit of a hangover from their psychedelic era as well in the lyrics comparing the woman to a “Child of the Moon.” That’s a more benign, cosmic view of women, à la “She’s a Rainbow,” than the group often offered.
As he often did during this era, Nicky Hopkins added session piano; the saxophone is played by Brian Jones, in one of the less heralded of his many contributions of instrumentation other than guitar on Rolling Stones records. For such a relatively little-known Rolling Stones song, it’s gotten its share of covers, including versions by alternative rock bands the Celibate Rifles and Band of Susans.
From the Rolling Stones – All the Songs, The Story Behind Every Track book:
“Child of the Moon” can be regarded as the Rolling Stones’ farewell to psychedelia. Here Mick Jagger has written some of the most enigmatic lyrics in his career as a songwriter. In the intro to the song, a more or less unintelligible voice can be heard, apparently saying the words: Lame prick society, I’ll be glad I can pay my taxes if I’m stoned, which may be some kind of private joke. The atmosphere immediately morphs into that of a hazy memory.
The story begins at twilight, when the sun glows at the end of the highway. In the second verse, the moon appears and her light flickers. Finally, in the third, the Earth’s satellite is preparing to give way to a misty day. Is this another description of a night with Marianne Faithfull that has evolved into a science fiction tale? Could Marianne be this child of the moon whom the narrator asks for a wide-awake, crescent-shaped smile? Or is it a mystical vision of love?
The promotional movie produced by Sanford Lieberson and directed by Michael Lindsay-Hogg perpetuates the mystery. It shows the five Rolling Stones in a forest, looking totally hypnotized, especially Mick Jagger (perched up in the branches, with white horses below) and Brian Jones (who can be seen lurking behind the trunk of a tree). Two women are also present—one young (Eileen Atkins) and one less young—both of whom are gazing at the moon.
Watching this promo induces a sense of oppression. This is probably due to the appearance of a furtive-looking Brian, who in all honesty is not looking at his best, and who only exacerbates the feeling of solitude created in the promo. Dan John Miller (leader of the Detroit folkrock band Blanche) senses Brian’s shadow hanging over the song: “I don’t think there’s another song of theirs that quite captures this perfect blend of country blues with this beautifully sad touch of psychedelia. I’m sure there is a huge chunk of Brian Jones driving this. His spirit really feels a big part of the song.”
Categories: Can You Hear the Music?