A staple of The Beatles’ live act for some years, ‘Mr Moonlight’ was recorded by the group during sessions for their fourth LP, Beatles For Sale.
‘Mr Moonlight’ was written by Roy Lee Johnson. The first known recording was by blues pianist Piano Red, recording as Dr Feelgood and the Interns. It was released as the b-side of ‘Dr Feelgood’, a minor R&B hit in 1962.
Disc, 14 November 1964
In the studio
The Beatles attempted to record ‘Mr Moonlight’ twice in the studio in 1964. The first time was on 14 August, when they recorded four takes – the last of these was for a time considered the best.
Anthology 1 contains takes one and four. The first broke down almost immediately; take four was complete, and featured a frantic slide guitar solo by George Harrison.
The Beatles re-made the song on 18 October. Again they recorded four takes, the last two of which featured Paul McCartney’s somewhat gaudy Hammond organ solo.
Despite a blistering vocal from John Lennon, ‘Mr Moonlight’ is held by many Beatles fans as one of the least successful songs in their catalogue.
I loved this song because of its pop atypicality, the aforementioned Lennon vocals, and the organ solo.
One of the great Beatles song? No, but a fine way to add more texture to “Beatles ’65.”
Good word choice on “blistering” to describe John’s vocal! While some might say this was a not great song, I say not so! Each time John sings “And the night you don’t come my way…”, possibly totaling 10-15 seconds worth of Beatles history, is emblazoned in my mind as perhaps the best 15 seconds in musical history! His raw energy and total commitment there (and in so many other songs) is fantastic! Whenever I think of the particular vocal quality that John had that I loved the most, I think of this song and that line as its quintessential expression. That energy is what made John John. That makes Mr. Moonlight a top-10 greatest Beatle song in my book!