Iterations: Echo & The Bunnymen’s “The Killing Moon”

Iterations: Echo & The Bunnymen’s “The Killing Moon”
Echo & The Bunnymen - "The Killing Moon"

It’s probably a sign of aging when one’s favourite song from Echo & The Bunnymen’s 1984 opus Ocean Rain transitions from the dramatic and brooding “Killing Moon” to the elegant and elegiac title track. I’m not saying I’m there now, but I’m not saying I’m not. There’s enough love in my heart for both tracks. But considering that “Ocean Rain” hasn’t actually been covered all that much, I’ll focus on that Donnie Darko song today, starting with a history of the song as compiled by Louder:

The Story Behind The Song: The Killing Moon by Echo & The Bunnymen @ Louder

And a 2015 interview with Ian and Will at The Guardian about writing the song, wherein Ian affirms his position that it’s “the greatest song ever written”.

Ian McCulloch and Will Sergeant: how we made “The Killing Moon” @ The Guardian

For live footage, here’s a clip from Spanish talk show Àngel Casas Show in 1984 when Ian could still hit the high notes:

And more than 30 years later at SXSW 2017, when Ian’s singing voice is something rather different. I saw them at that festival in 2009 when they played the much smaller Rusty Spurs.

And for something a little different, Ian McCulloch playing the song solo on acoustic guitar from his home studio for NME in 2015:

And now the covers! Being one of the seminal New Wave songs of the ’80s, it’s inevitable that French New Wave covers project Nouvelle Vague took it for a spin. What is surprising is that it took until their second record Bande à Part to do so.

By the same token, it’s not surprising that Matthew Sweet and Susanna Hoffs included it in their Under The Covers series; it took them until Volume 3 to release their version.

Consider it a PSA that if you queue up the song at Bar+ Karaoke in Toronto, it won’t be the original – for whatever reason, it’ll be Pavement’s cover of the song recorded for a BBC radio session in January 1997. It’s much slower and harder to sing along to.

British indie duo Slow Club also included a cover on their I Swam Out To Greet You limited edition album:

And Norwegian pop gods a-ha not only included the song in the set list of their 2017 MTV Unplugged (Summer Solstice) tour, they got Ian McCulloch to join them on tour to sing it with them.

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