Friday 31 August 2012

Once On A Blue Moon

Today is the day when unusual things happen, for today is a blue moon. It is the second full moon in a single calendar month (the last one was on August 2nd), something that only happens every three years or so.

In fact, to be accurate, there are several slightly different definitions of a blue moon, with some people saying that it's the fourth full moon in a three month period, and others (including Brewer's) just saying that it's when the moon appears blue because of dust in the atmosphere.

Nobody even knows where the phrase comes from exactly, or why you would call the extra moon blue. There are theories, but none very convincing.

If a full moon is something that happens once every two or three years - the last was in 2010 and the next will be in 2015 - then it's much rarer than a month of Sundays, which, if you think about it, should rack up every thirty weeks.

As for donkey's years, I have already discussed them in this old post.

As for Blue Moon the song, that was the fourth version. The original song was called Oh Lord, Make Me a Movie Star and the lyrics (sing 'em) went:

Oh Lord,
If you're not busy up there,
I ask for help with a prayer
So please don't give me the air.

They were written for a 1933 film called Hollywood Party, but the scene was cut. In 1934 Rodgers and Hart tried re-working them for a film called Manhattan Melodrama:

Act One:
You gulp your coffee and run;
Into the subway you crowd.
Don’t breathe, it isn’t allowed.

But that scene was cut too. So they reworked it for the nightclub scene:

Oh Lord,
What is the matter with me?
I'm just permitted to see
The bad in every man.

That scene wasn't cut, and here it is!

But the lyrics still weren't romantic enough. So Hart, probably pissed off as hell by this point, knocked out a fourth version that went:

A tip of the blogger's bowler to Altanese Cato for bringing the blue moon to my attention.

P.S. I've managed, with sinister dexterity, to slice open the index finger of my right hand, which will apparently be unusable for several weeks and is filled with stitches. This may affect blogging as I'm typing as fast as a continent drifts.


  1. It's one of my favourite songs – but aren't the original lyrics so much more fun, with that unique Lorenz Hart acerbic wit? Hope your finger heals soon.

  2. I always was led to understand that in calendars and diaries the full moons were printed in a red colour, whereas when a second full moon occured in the same month it was in a blue colour.

  3. Every time I hear the song "Blue Moon" it reminds me of Bobby Vinton's version in the John Landis film "An American Werewolf In London"
    I watched this with my older brother when I was probably far too young. I still get chills when ever I hear it..

    "Watch the Werewolf's don't smell the blood from that damaged finger of yours Mr Forsyth"

  4. Wasn't a blue moon also called a traitor's moon once, for some obscure religious reason I can't recall?

    1. There can be what was called a betrayer's moon, which simply means that it comes too early and messes up the normal flow of the Church calendar.

  5. I always thought it was something to do with the dust from the Krakatoa explosion....

    Laurie -