Earth’s nearest neighbour has provided much inspiration to songwriters from all musical genres and Americana is no exception. The moon has been used as a metaphor for the impossible, the unattainable as well as providing a romantic backdrop for Americana songs. It is also perhaps no accident that the illicitly produced spirit Moonshine and respective bootlegging activities have given a rich seam of material for Americana artists keen to express the human spirit of defiance and rebellion.
The American usage of the word Moonshine, originates from the late 18th century onwards, suggesting both the transparent nature of the liquid and the fact that the activities concerning its production and distribution were conducted at night. Old Crow Medicine Show, featured below, have gone beyond the call of duty in not only singing about the risks of Bootlegging but living in a cabin in North Carolina to make whiskey. Enjoy listening to these tales of moon gazing and distilling, adding your own favourites in the comments section below.
Gillian Welch & David Rawlings – ‘Copper Kettle’
A beautiful rendition of the song made popular by Joan Baez and also recorded by Bob Dylan with trademark harmonies from Welch and Rawlings
Bob Dylan – ‘Blue Moon’
Taken from the ‘Nashville Sessions and More’ album that was put together from discarded Columbia Studio tapes. Lovers of, ‘Nashville Skyline’ will appreciate the distinctive register of Dylan’s voice as he croons his way through this Rodger’s & Hart classic.
Old Crow Medicine Show- ‘Bootlegger’s Boy’
A cautionary tale of the son of a bootlegger whose renegade lifestyle is brought to a close by a whiskey feud.
Gene Clarke – ‘Sister Moon’
A masterful and melancholy track taken from Clark’s, ‘Two Sides to Every Story’ album.
Ross Cooper ‘Old Crow Whiskey and a Cornbread Moon’
A direct, heartfelt ballad that gives a nod to the farmers and ranchers of Cooper’s home state, Texas.
The Dad Horse Experience with The Singing Drummer – ‘The Moonshiner’
This track draws its influence from Appalachian music but has a unique and dark character all of its own.
Emmylou Harris – ‘Moon Song’
Her voice shines on this lament to longing and love.
The SteelDrivers, ‘Good Corn Liquor’
Runnin’ Moonshine has serious consequences in a track with some fine banjo and steel guitar.
Steve Earle – ‘Copperhead Road’
Maybe an obvious choice for this compilation but it’s hard to resist. The subject matter provides a heady concoction of Vietnam War, Moonshine and Marijuana conveying a renegade spirit till the end.
Tennessee Mountain Jug Band –‘Mountain Dew’
This splendidly named band give the old Appalachian folk song a spirited and fast-paced rendition.