One of the greatest moments in American music is the beginning of The Stanley Brother’s version “Blue Moon of Kentucky.” The backup singers come in first, all “Blue Moon,” “Blue Moon,” and you can guess that it’s a country song because the stringed instruments are a little twangy, but there is literally nothing to prepare you for how I assume it’s Ralph’s voice come crackling across the top of the song, like a weak point in a sheet of ice, finally giving way.
And the way he sings “Bloo Mooooon of Kin TUK eh” is just… I don’t even know, just fucking genius. If you were floating in outer space on the far end of the moon, you’d still hear that “TUK” clear up there.
Everything about the performance assumes you already know the song. No one’s really enunciating, so much as almost scat singing their way through the song, or doing it in the style of the coon hounds. But every time I hear it I feel lucky to live in such times.