"The Moon's a Harsh Mistress" as written by and Jimmy Webb....
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 Tethys

"The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress" as written by Jimmy Webb

Lyrics © Universal Music Publishing Group

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The Moon's a Harsh Mistress song meanings
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  • +1
    General CommentJudy's first recording of this song was in 1975 on her "Judith" album, not 1989. But yes, it wasn't written by her. She's mainly known as a great interpreter of other people's songs, but she does have a few compositions of her own (which are brilliant).
    lastoftherockstarson May 17, 2007   Link
  • +1
    General Commentjust to add some tid bits, Joe Cocker's "I can stand a little rain" album came out in 1974, a year prior to judy collins' "Judith" album. His arrangement was just as influential in exposing Jimmy Webb's love song because it was at the height of Cocker's career.
    Additionally, Judy lifted the piano arrangement from Cocker.
    mrultraman86on July 21, 2008   Link
  • 0
    General Commentthethys you are a loon.
    ~just~a~dream~on June 14, 2005   Link
  • 0
    General Commenttethys i'v just realised i spelt your name wrong. damn.
    ~just~a~dream~on June 14, 2005   Link
  • 0
    General Commentreally just a dream i think that is pathetic...this song is sooo tragic and beautiful it is impossible to phrase into mundance syntax. suffice to say that it is about one whom you cannot love and their beauty is so powerful u find urself enraptured, ensnared only to lose ur place and fall.....someone whom you cannot call you own....
    Tethyson June 14, 2005   Link
  • 0
    General Commentlike me tethys!!
    ~just~a~dream~on June 14, 2005   Link
  • 0
    General Commentdream on.....no i love u really
    Tethyson June 14, 2005   Link
  • 0
    General CommentFirstly this song was not written by Joan Collins or even first performed by her. i know for a fact it was performed and made famous by Linda Ronstadt in 1982 before Judy - which was in 1989. It was written by the excellent songwriter - Jimmy Webb in 1974. He said himself that - ''The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress” was a song that became a standard without ever becoming a hit and was symbiotic of that decade of my life, my struggle, my failure, my angst, my pride and even scorn.... and ultimately my crash''
    The title ''The Moon is a Harsh Mistress'' is taken (i'm guessing) from the 1966 science fiction novel by Robert A. Heinlein about a lunar penal colony's revolt against rule from Earth. It received the Hugo Award for best novel. I have not read it but i know that it was as extremely influential book dealing with social upheavals, revolution, democracy. I am not sure if this is relevant to this song but i am sure there must be some sort of connection.
    ~just~a~dream~on June 14, 2005   Link
  • 0
    General Commentcrap i ruined my whole nerdiness...i meant Judy on the first line! hehehehe - (for a long time)
    ~just~a~dream~on June 14, 2005   Link
  • 0
    General CommentFirst of all, my apologies for being so late in coming to this conversation; Jimmy Webb drew inspiration for the title from a Sci-Fi novel of the same name “The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress” by Robert A. Heinlein. The song has been recorded by many artists, yet it has never achieved any notoriety on any of the music charts. Here is a list of artist whom has covered the song. Missing from this list is a minor English folk singer by the name of Aj Webber who recorded the song on her solo 1975 album of the same name. This writer has listened to the recording, and I am being polite here, Ms. Webber cannot carry a tune in a bucket in my humble opinion. Maybe that is why it was not included in the Wikipedia listing:

    • Joe Cocker on his album I Can Stand a Little Rain (1974)
    • Glen Campbell on his album Reunion: The Songs of Jimmy Webb (1974)
    • Judy Collins on her album Judith (1975)
    • Jeannie Lewis on her album Tears of Steel & the Clowning Calaveras (1975)
    • Jimmy Webb on his album El Mirage (1977)
    • Radka Toneff and Steve Dobrogosz on the album Fairytales (1982)
    • Linda Ronstadt on her album Get Closer (1982)
    • Joan Baez on her album Recently (1987)
    • Jimmy Webb on his album Ten Easy Pieces (1996)
    • Christine Andreas on her album Love is Good (1997)
    • Pat Metheny and Charlie Haden on their Jazz album Beyond The Missouri Sky (1997)
    • Sheila Jordan on her album Jazz Child (1999)
    • Kassie DePaiva on her album Naked (2000)
    • Tom Wopat on his album In the Still of the Night (2000)
    • Grażyna Auguścik on her album The River (2001)
    • Jimmy LaFave on his album Texoma (2001)
    • The Walker Brothers on their compilation album If You Could Hear Me Now (2001)
    • Michael Feinstein on his album Only One Life: The Songs of Jimmy Webb (2003)
    • Karrin Allyson on her album Wild for You (2004)
    • Tone Damli on her album Bliss (2005)
    • Renee Fleming on her album Haunted Heart (2005)
    • Larry Norman on his live album Live at the Elsinore (2005)
    • Doug Parkinson on his album Somewhere After Midnight (2005)
    • Albert Lee on his album Road Runner (2006)
    • Aleksandra & the Belgian Sweets on their album Island Girl (2008)
    • Maureen McGovern on her album A Long and Winding Road (2008)
    • Andrew W.K. on NPR Music's "Tiny Desk Concerts" series (2009)
    • Lisa Kelly of Celtic Woman on their album Celtic Woman: Songs from the Heart (2010)
    • Rumer on a 2010 iTunes EP including the hit Slow (2010)
    • Nick Haywood Quartet on their album 1234 (2011)
    • Nils Landgren on his album The Moon, the Stars, and You (2011)
    • Josh Groban on his album All That Echoes (2013)
    • John Hollenbeck on his album Songs I Like a Lot (2013)
    • Sam Tsui during Shelton High 's pre-recorded live segment on New Year's Eve with Kurt Hugo Schneider (2013)

    In closing, and this is again my humble opinion subject to change, the best renditions to date are Linda Ronstadt (vocal) and the late jazz bassist Charley Haden and Pat Metheny’s version for instrumental; simply inspiring.
    george7hhon July 21, 2014   Link

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