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Lord, Blow the Moon Out Please is a traditional lullaby. Like any song passed down over the years, it comes in a few small variations.

The bed is too small for my tired head
 Bring me a hill soft with trees
  Tuck a cloud up under my chin
   Lord, blow the moon out please

The bed is too small for my tiredness
 Give me a hillside with trees
  And tuck a cloud up under my head
   Lord, blow the moon out please

Sing me to sleep in a cradle of dreams
 A lullaby of ease
  And tuck a cloud down under my feet
   And Lord, blow the moon out please

While slowly losing grasp on conscious reality, lullabies suggest a more magical world rich with metaphor.  They ask the sleepy to cease relying on their senses and instead to accept the visions painted by the singer.  That's always struck me a little creepy, and this song is no different.

It makes me envision a djinn in the sky beckoned forth, empowered by the languid wishes of the soporific.  He draws in a bank of dark clouds with a wind not present moments ago, darkening the Earth.  The moon extinguished, the dreamer is so relaxed, she falls asleep, careless.

Hem's 2002 album, Rabbit Songs, opened with the single stanza version of this song.  Most of their music, characterized as alt-country, is a layering of guitar, piano, glockenspiel, and fiddles, coming across as both modest and carefully produced.  But they chose to present this one with Sally Ellyson's voice a capella, giving a haunting intro to an album that starts out slow and sad.

What makes this all the more interesting is how Hem originally gained its singer, relayed in an NPR interview back in 2002. Sally Ellyson was auditioning to be their singer and had delivered a tape of lullabies she sung to the band's songwriter:

...when she came over she made the tape dub and I got her out of the apartment as quickly as I could, and I wasn't ever planning on listening to the tape, and I actually went to listen to another tape, and I pressed the wrong play button, and this voice came out over my speakers. It was the most beautiful voice I'd ever heard in my life. I couldn't believe it.

No wonder they started the album with a lullaby.  A lullaby started the band.

Hem's version of Lord, Blow the Moon Out Please runs a short 26 seconds, meaning that most music sites will allow you to preview it in its entirety for free.  I'd suggest giving it a listen.  May it make you shiver like it does me.

References and Links to Audio

  1. Lord, Blow the Moon Out Please performed by Hem, Rabbit Songs, http://grooveshark.com/s/Lord+Blow+The+Moon+Out+Please/2qpwvU?src=5, Accessed 2011 May 22
  2. Lord, Blow the Moon Out, Please performed by Rosemary Phelan, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=37l4fUXJ1t0, Accessed 2011 May 22
  3. Music Interviews: Hem, All Things Considered, NPR, 2002 July 10, http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=1146455, transcribed at http://www.allabouthem.com/npr2.htm

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