See her how she flies
Golden sails across the sky
Close enough to touch
But careful if you try
Though she looks as warm as gold
The moon's a harsh mistress
The moon can be so cold

Once the sun did shine
Lord, it felt so fine
The moon a phantom rose
Through the mountains and the pines
And then the darkness fell
And the moon's a harsh mistress
It's so hard to love her well

I fell out of her eyes
I fell out of her heart
I fell down on my face
Yes, I did, and I -- I tripped and I missed my star
God, I fell and I fell alone, I fell alone
And the moon's a harsh mistress
And the sky is made of stone

The moon's a harsh mistress
She's hard to call your own.

Lyrics submitted by destroying_angel

The Moon's A Harsh Mistress song meanings
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  • 0
    General CommentHaven't heard the original but the song's grown on me through jazz versions, notably the Norwegian jazz chanteuse Radka Toneff and the instrumental take by Charlie Haden and Pat Metheny. The latter is devastatingly beautiful, like a mind's eye landscape tinged with moonshine and regret.
    tinderboxon June 12, 2005   Link
  • 0
    My Interpretation"The moon is a harsh mistress" is the name of a book by Heinlein, but that is pretty incidental, I don't think Webb meant to allude to it in any particular way. Rather, both it and Heinlein's title is an related to the old biblical phrase "the law is a harsh master" and the many similar phrases ("X is a harsh master/mistress") it inspired.

    The moon, however, is a symbol of periodic change, change of fortune, and of mental illness, in particular mood swings. People used to think that people with mood swings had their mood change in sync with the phases of the moon, but that erroneous belief is probably from someone taking a poetic phrase too literally ("his humours changes like the moon", etc.)

    The song uses powerful images to describe both big ups and deep depression ("The sky is made of stone") and the theme is that being a "slave to the moon" isn't easy, nor is admitting and accepting it ("call your own").

    The middle verse is mostly interpreted as being about being abandoned by a lover. For instance, most female singers switch the genders on that verse so that it becomes "I fell out of his eyes". But it is quite possible, likely even, that the "she" referred to throughout is the same, namely the moon, mood swings personified.

    Also, the experienced songwriter Webb probably knows more people can relate to romance and rejection than periodic depression and mania, and put in the double meaning/interpretation deliberately. Webb has stated that the song is about the wild ups and downs he experienced in that part of his life.
    vinteron May 03, 2012   Link

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