The Killing Moon

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"The Killing Moon"
Single by Echo & the Bunnymen
from the album Ocean Rain
B-side"Do It Clean"
Released20 January 1984
RecordedDecember 1983
Producer(s)David Lord
Echo & the Bunnymen singles chronology
"Never Stop"
"The Killing Moon"
"The Sound of Echo"
Music video
"The Killing Moon" on YouTube

"The Killing Moon" is a song by the band Echo & the Bunnymen. It was released on 20 January 1984[1] as the lead single from their 1984 album, Ocean Rain. It is one of the band's highest-charting hits, reaching number 9 in the UK Singles Chart, and often cited as the band's greatest song. Ian McCulloch has said: "When I sing 'The Killing Moon', I know there isn't a band in the world who's got a song anywhere near that."[2] In a retrospective review of the song, Allmusic journalist Stewart Mason wrote: "The smart use of strings amplifies the elegance of the tune, bringing both a musical richness and a sense of quiet dignity to the tune."[3]


According to the liner notes of Echo and the Bunnymen's Crystal Days box set, Ian McCulloch woke up one morning with the phrase "fate up against your will" in mind. In a 2015 interview McCulloch said: "I love (the song) all the more because I didn’t pore over it for days on end. One morning, I just sat bolt upright in bed with this line in my head: 'Fate up against your will. Through the thick and thin. He will wait until you give yourself to him.' You don’t dream things like that and remember them. That’s why I’ve always half credited the lyric to God. It’s never happened before or since." McCulloch attributed the use of astronomical imagery in the song to a childhood interest in space.[4]


The chords of the song were based on David Bowie's "Space Oddity", played backwards. The arrangement of the song was partially inspired by balalaika music that Les Pattinson and Will Sergeant had heard in Russia. The guitar solo had been recorded separately by Sergeant whilst tuning up and was inserted in the song at the suggestion of producer David Lord. The strings on the track are a combination of Adam Peters' cello and keyboards played by the producer.[5]

Track listing[edit]

  • UK 12"
  1. "The Killing Moon" (All Night Version) – 9:11
  2. "The Killing Moon" – 5:50
  3. "Do It Clean" (Recorded live at the Royal Albert Hall London 18 July 1983) – 6:36


Weekly charts[edit]

Weekly chart performance for "The Killing Moon"
Chart (1984) Peak
Australia (Kent Music Report)[6] 96
Irish Singles Chart[7] 7
New Zealand (Recorded Music NZ)[8] 12
UK Singles Chart[9] 9

Year-end charts[edit]

1984 year-end chart performance for "The Killing Moon"
Chart (1984) Peak
New Zealand (Recorded Music NZ)[10] 46

Notable usage and cover versions[edit]

"The Killing Moon" has been featured in films such as Donnie Darko,[11] Gia, The Girl Next Door and Grosse Pointe Blank, television shows such as I Am Not Okay with This, 13 Reasons Why, Billions, and various video games.[12] Artists that have covered the song include Greg Laswell, Wendy Rule, Pavement,[13] Nouvelle Vague, Grant-Lee Phillips, Katie Griffin, The Distants, Chvrches[14] and A-ha.


  1. ^ "Record News". NME. London, England: IPC Media: 29. 14 January 1984.
  2. ^ Harrison, Andrew (12 April 2003). "This much I know". The Observer. London. Retrieved 19 June 2013.
  3. ^ Mason, Stuart. "The Killing Moon: Song Review by Stewart Mason". AllMusic. Retrieved 12 January 2014.
  4. ^ Simpson, Dave (7 April 2015). "Ian McCulloch and Will Sergeant: how we made The Killing Moon". Retrieved 14 April 2015.
  5. ^ Simpson, Interviews by Dave (7 April 2015). "Ian McCulloch and Will Sergeant: how we made The Killing Moon". The Guardian. Retrieved 2 September 2017.
  6. ^ Kent, David (1993). Australian Chart Book 1970–1992. St Ives, NSW: Australian Chart Book. ISBN 0-646-11917-6.
  7. ^ "The Irish Charts - All You Need To Know". IRMA. Retrieved 12 June 2017.
  8. ^ "". Hung Medien. Recording Industry Association of New Zealand. Retrieved 12 June 2017.
  9. ^ "ECHO & THE BUNNYMEN | full Official Chart History". Retrieved 24 February 2022.
  10. ^ "End of Year Charts 1984". Recorded Music NZ. Retrieved 17 May 2022.
  11. ^ Day, Matt (10 August 2004). "Donnie Darko: Director's Cut". The Digital Fix.
  12. ^ "This is the full 83-track Rock Band 3 setlist". Engadget.
  13. ^ "Take Cover! Pavement Vs. Echo & The Bunnymen". 4 November 2009. Retrieved 24 February 2022.
  14. ^ "Listen to Chvrches' cover of Echo And The Bunnymen's 'The Killing Moon'". 13 August 2021. Retrieved 24 February 2022.

External links[edit]