Halfway to the Moon
Historian: Martin Acaster (Doctor_Smarty)
Last Update: 2014-06-17
The point in space that lies “Halfway to the Moon” is ostensibly the location where the Earth and its nearest heavenly body are united in a celestial marriage. This union of heaven and Earth which can be symbolized by the alchemical symbol of the hexagram, and represents the experience – commonly known as enlightenment – that lies at the center of Aldous Huxley’s The Perennial Philosophy.
This metaphysical concept underlies the beliefs of all peoples from the most primitive aboriginal tribesmen to the most highly developed thinkers of more “civilized” society. No matter who we are, we each can experience that moment where we truly get “IT” and if only for that instant understand our place in the universe. The Page-penned “Halfway to the Moon” – debuted on 6/19/10 at SPAC – seemingly captures such a moment of enlightenment for the songwriter. The only question then, is what aspect of his universe was Page pondering at the time? Going back to circles with shiny shoes for a repeat performance after leaving your wallet behind suggests marriage of an Earthly kind for a second time.
Musically “Halfway to the Moon” sounds like what may have been the result if Thom Yorke of Radiohead had originally composed the Allman Brothers’ “Melissa.” Although the debut version was not very adventurous, the brooding, vaguely sinister groove through which Trey’s dissonant space whales swim showed great potential for future improvisation. Two additional performances during its debut year (10/12/10 Broomfield and 10/23/10 Zoo Mass) and the first of two performances in 2011 (6/12/11 MPP) allowed little room for the song to expand while it occupied the mid to late second set “breather” slot. Those versions appear mired in a vague despondency that leaves both band and audience somewhat deflated. Just as all hope for the song seemed lost, something changed during the first of the now many legendary weekends at Dick’s (9/4/11). “Halfway to the Moon” was moved to the first set, infused with new life, then given the entire next year off to get its head together.
When it returned from sabbatical the vigor and swagger of the Dick’s version was palpable in each of the seven 2013 performances. While each of them is solid, the 8/2/13 Bill Graham, 10/27/13 Hartford, 11/1/13 Boardwalk Hall (prior to which Trey identified the song as likely to be included on the new album), and 12/31/13 MSG versions are slightly more jubilant.
”Halfway to the Moon” 8/2/13, San Francisco, CA
Undoubtedly, the 2013 performances laid an irrevocable claim on an album track designation for the tune, despite it not being included in the 10/31/13 Wingsuit set. This status was confirmed with the June 2014 release of the Fuego studio version of the song which is sophisticated and impeccable. Clean piano lines and enchanting vocals dance over multi-dimensionally flanging guitar and a lively rhythm section as the song soars ever skyward ultimately encountering some harmonies from an angelic chorus that includes one or more (the album credits don’t specify which vocalists are featured on which songs) of such legendary vocalists as Vicki Hampton, Maureen Murphy, Marie Lewey, Cindy Walker, and Carla Russell, multi-dimensional producer Bob Ezrin, and his protege Josh Guillaume. Following the release of the studio version it is safe to say that it could only be improved with some expanded improvisation.
Here’s hoping we can all finally blast off and take this moon rocket all the way to the lunar surface!