Classic Rock Wiki

"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 nine 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]



  • 1 Lyrics
  • 2 Track listing
  • 3 In popular culture
    • 3.1 Cover versions
    • 3.2 In television and film
  • 4 References
  • 5 External links


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.[citation needed]

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) – 2:45

In popular culture[edit][]

Cover versions[edit][]

Cover versions of "The Killing Moon"[4] include:

  • 1997: Pavement recorded the song on their January 1997 BBC Radio 1 Evening Session, later included on their final EP, Major Leagues.
  • 2006: Nouvelle Vague's bossa nova version opened their Bande à Part album.
  • 2006: Grant-Lee Phillips featured the song on his covers album, Nineteeneighties.

In television and film[edit][]

"The Killing Moon" was featured in the original theatrical version of the opening sequence of the cult film Donnie Darko. However, in the director's cut version of the film, the song is replaced by INXS's "Never Tear Us Apart".[5]