Facts on the Song "Yellow Moon" by the Neville Brothers

by Matt Gerrard

The Neville Brothers are a soul, funk and R&N; four-piece band from New Orleans, Louisiana. According to their official bio, the four brothers had all been professional musicians since the 1950s, but they didn't play together as a band until the 1970s. Their uncle, Mardi Gras Indian Chief, "Big Chief Jolly," invited them to appear first on "The Wild Tchoupitoulas" album, after which they started playing shows on their own.


"Yellow Moon" is the title track from the group's 1989 album. It was written by the band's vocalist Aaron Neville and produced by Daniel Lanois. The fourth album was seen by the group as a "last chance" since their previous three records, "Fiyo on the Bayou," "Neville-ization" and "Live at Tipitinas" had sold poorly -- so much so that the band members had been released from their respective record contracts after each one.


The lyrics of the song "Yellow Moon" present a dialog between the narrator and the low moon. He repeatedly asks the moon whether it can find his love interest from its vantage point -- the implication being that she is so mysterious and secretive that only a celestial body would be able to keep track of her. The lyrics describe a lack of trust between the pair, and the narrator really has no strong idea one way or another, whether she is being unfaithful or is lost and in trouble.


In a departure from previous records, the "Yellow Moon" album consisted of far more original compositions than the ones that preceded it. There were also a minimal number of guest players, with instrumental duties being performed by the brothers themselves. On the song "Yellow Moon," Aaron and Art play keyboards, with Aaron taking the lead vocal. Cyril plays percussion, and Charles the saxophone.


The song and album were well-received, and while they didn't achieve a smash hit, the band generated enough interest to maintain a solid following and to attract a number of new followers. The single was supported by both an extensive tour and the additional interest from Aaron's successful duet with Linda Ronstadt, "Don't Know Much."

About the Author

Matt Gerrard began writing in 2002, initially contributing articles about college student culture to "The Gateway" magazine, many of which were republished on the now-defunct Plinth blog. Since then, Gerrard has worked as a technician for musicians, educators, chemists and engineers. He holds a Bachelor of Arts in music technology from DeMontfort University.