Friday, August 28, 2015

Mike Oldfield: Moonlight Shadow (1999)


Mike Oldfield with his 1999 tour band performing "Moonlight Shadow" live at the VH1 studio; the singer is Helen “Pepsi” DeMacque. Oldfield, a British musician and composer, will forever be known for his 1973 multi-instrument multi-layered masterpiece, “Tubular Bells.” This was the first album on Richard Branson’s Virgin Records. As for this song, Moonlight Shadow was first released as a single in May 1983, and later that year included on the album Crises. You can listen to earlier versions sung by Maggie Reilly in 1983 here and in 1985 here 

Moonlight Shadow
by Mike Oldfield

The last time ever she saw him
Carried away by a moonlight shadow
He passed on worried and warning
Carried away by a moonlight shadow.
Lost in a riddle that Saturday night
Far away on the other side.
He was caught in the middle of a desperate fight
And she couldn't find how to push through

The trees that whisper in the evening
Carried away by a moonlight shadow
Sing a song of sorrow and grieving
Carried away by a moonlight shadow
All she saw was a silhouette of a gun
Far away on the other side.
He was shot six times by a man on the run
And she couldn't find how to push through

I stay, I pray
See you in Heaven far away...
I stay, I pray
See you in Heaven one day.

Four A.M. in the morning
Carried away by a moonlight shadow
I watched your vision forming
Carried away by a moonlight shadow
A star was glowing in the silvery night
Far away on the other side
Will you come to talk to me this night
But she couldn't find how to push through

I stay, I pray
See you in Heaven far away...
I stay, I pray
See you in Heaven one day.

Far away on the other side.
Caught in the middle of a hundred and five
The night was heavy and the air was alive
But she couldn’t find how to push through
Carried away by a moonlight shadow
Carried away by a moonlight shadow
Far away on the other side.

The other side being the other side of life, or death from this world. Many believe in an afterlife and that what we call “death” is just part of a journey (“a passing”) into another or new life. Heaven becomes the domain of the new life in some form, which has a basis in many religions. The song’s imagery is somewhat about the inability or difficulty of pushing through or connecting with the spirits of those no longer here on earth. It is about breaking the boundaries that separate the two.

In the song are found some prevailing ideas of spiritualism, which views such boundaries as artificial, unnecessary and a limitation of human consciousness. Can the dearly departed contact us from another realm, or is this merely wishful thinking, a fantastical idea? Although most rational people will say no to the first and yes to the second, some might also hope it is, indeed, possible. Hope carries people into unknown territory. We often find ourselves in a position of hoping against hope. Reality can be like a stiff reed, unlike the soft caresses of hope.

Back to the imagery in front of us. A moonlight shadow is ethereal, visible yet immaterial. In real terms, the moon casts a shadow only when its light meets an object obstructing it. Here is another thought. A shadow, in  Jungian terms, is an unconscious (often undesirable) aspect of an individual’s personality, a reality hidden from plain view. Despite the advances (and claims) of neuroscience, we know so little about this part of human existence.  Is absence of proof, proof of absence? 

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