Shine On You Crazy Harvest Moon

Sometimes things work out perfectly. Yesterday the song title “Shine On, Harvest Moon” popped into my head. It’s a classic, great song. It’s the type of song our grandparents sang. (Actually, not mine. Mine were too busy running from Nazis and Cossacks. But you get the idea, I’m sure.) I decided to feature it today.

The first step, of course, is to consult Google and YouTube to find the best version. I typed in “Shine On” and “Shine On You Crazy Diamond” appeared. Two great songs that are as different as possible. Why not feature both? The best part is that great videos of each exist.

I like Pink Floyd and feel a deep connection to Laurel and Hardy. I always have wanted to feature the latter’s version of “Shine On, Harvest Moon,” which is from the movie “The Flying Deuces.”

Laurel and Hardy occupy a small but important place in western culture, in my opinion. Comedians are philosophers with laugh tracks. Those that were on the scene during the dreadful middle of the truly awful 20th century were vital. They were commentators on the same changes in society that produced a century of violence and death.

Charlie Chaplin dealt with the dehumanizing elements of modernity. (Check out “Modern Times” or “The Kid.”) The Marx Brothers debated authority versus anarchy. W.C. Fields was about how to maintain autonomy and a personal code — and whether an independent person (drunk or sober) can survive. (He also had two of the best titles: “You Can’t Cheat an Honest Man” and “Never Give a Sucker an Even Break.”)

Laurel and Hardy were about innocence. They were two little boys who weren’t really aware of the adult world or that the old times were inexorably fading away. The adults around them indulged and insulated them, just as people indulge and insulate children. There also was a touch of sadness, because the viewer knows that it all is going to come crashing down. The merciful thing would be for them to be gone before they are forced to take their places on the assembly line of this grim new age.

I don’t know as much about Pink Floyd, except that they are a great band. Songfacts says that “Shine On You Crazy Diamond” is about Syd Barrett, an original band member who wrote many of its early hits. (Note his the letters “SYD” in the words of the song’s name.) Mental illness had forced the band to kick him out. From Songfacts:

During the final mixing sessions of this song in June of 1975, Barrett wandered into the studios, ready to help out. He was fat, bald, and as crazy as they remembered, but they let him stay for a while. Barrett wanted to rejoin the group, but they learned in 1967 and 1968 that having an insane member was not good for a band. Before he was kicked out, Barrett would get on stage and either refuse to play or play the same note over and over.

Syd (actually, Roger Keith) Barrett died in 2006.

Wikipedia and Songfacts were used to write this post.

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