The song was written in 1945 by bluegrass musician Bill Monroe. In 2002 his recording was one of 50 songs chosen by the Library of Congress to be added to the National Recording Registry.
‘Blue Moon Of Kentucky’ was recorded by Elvis Presley in July 1954 as the follow-up to ‘That’s All Right (Mama)’. Presley and his band turned it from a bluegrass waltz into an upbeat blues song in 4/4.
I originally heard the Elvis version, uptempo and echoey, then later I heard the Bill Monroe original, a slower waltz version, and loved his nasal delivery. I also saw him doing it on telly, in America, a couple of times. So I thought, for Unplugged, that it would be nice to do his version first and then go into the uptempo Elvis one.
It’s a song from way back that I had confidence in singing, and that’s often enough to choose it for an act. It’s funny – I never meant to record it, but I did it on the early Wings tours, which we recorded, and now this, which we’ve released, and it’s become a bit more important than I intended it, really. But that’s OK.
Club Sandwich, Summer 1991
McCartney’s MTV Unplugged version was recorded on 25 January 1991 at London’s Limehouse Studios.
‘Blue Moon Of Kentucky’ was one of the handful of songs performed by Wings on their debut UK tour in February 1972.
It was also played during the 1972 Wings Over Europe tour. A recording was included on the 2018 album Wings Over Europe, included in the Red Rose Speedway deluxe reissue.