Long before the Apollo 11 mission landed Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin on the moon – on June 20, 1969 – musicians were writing songs about our glowing orb. Back in 1777, Joseph Haydn premiered his new opera called The World on the Moon. And today, our revolving sphere continues to inspire. Earlier this week, the Houston-based singer-songwriter Robert Ellis released his rendition of "Everyone's Gone to the Moon."
To mark the 50th anniversary of the Apollo's lunar landing, we've assembled a far-reaching playlist of moon tunes. And while we've included a few classics, you'll have to go elsewhere for overly obvious earworms like "Moondance," "Bad Moon Rising," and "Walking on the Moon." Instead, we offer songs off the beaten orbit, sprawling across many genres, where Moondog, Erykah Badu, Robert Schumann, Otis Spann, Hank Williams and Gil Scott-Heron spin side by side in the same celestial stew.
In this playlist, the moon pulls musicians in many emotional directions. There are spasms of desperation and luminous outpourings of love – and a few outright condemnations of the space program. But more often, introspective reverie provides a space to imagine what it might be like to take a step on that bright glowing ball in the sky.