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What's the Real Moonlight in Vermont Look Like?

It’s a beautiful autumn in New England this year, and although I haven’t seen the moonlight in Vermont in a long time, it’s probably even nicer there. As it approaches, I’m thinking about Halloween, but I can’t get another Willie Nelson song out of my head. This time it’s “Moonlight in Vermont.”

It’s appropriate for the season with its references to ’falling leaves of sycamore’ and points to ‘icy finger waves.’ There’s even an ‘Evening summer breeze, warbling of a meadowlark’ to close it all out, which rounds out most of the seasons if you’re listening patiently and you allow the song to put you in that place.

icy finger waves

Snowlight in Vermont

Much like his “September Song” that I wrote about last month, Willie's version comes from his Stardust album from 1977. He’s about as New England as I am Texas, but he strikes all the right chords with a hauntingly beautiful, very sedated version of this classic written by John Blackburn (lyrics) and Karl Suessdorf (music) in 1944.

This is my favorite from Willie’s album. The lyrics are sparse, yet the words say so much. As stated earlier, if you allow the song to take you for a little ride, you’ll feel like you’re on a horse-drawn carriage slowly rolling through the hills at the base of the mountains.

Ski trails on a mountain side,

snow light in Vermont.

Moonlight in Vermont

Moonlight In Vermont

There we are. Where’s the hot mulled cider? At this point, the drums quietly shuffle into the rhythm, and Booker T. Jones hits us with the warbling Hammond organ. Masterfully subtle building of tension.

Telegraph cables, they sing down the highway,

And travel each bend in the road.

Take a breath, Willie, and blow out that smoke for a little more power:

People who meet in this romantic setting

Are so hypnotized by the lovely.

Evening Summer Breeze

Evening Summer Breeze

This is the song's point where the tension dissipates, and I’m left mezmerized and staring at the sky. Seems like I just experienced something, but it was nothing at all. Sort of like Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz when it goes back to black and white and she's in her bed with Auntie Em and the guys comforting her after the dream.

“I did leave you, Uncle Henry; that’s just the trouble!”

Evening summer breeze, warbling of a meadowlark,

Moonlight in Vermont.

Spectacular song and, in this case, recording. So much from so little. If anyone out there is in Vermont, can you let me know if that’s how everyone rolls in Vermont?


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