Every #1 Country Single of the Eighties: Ricky Skaggs, “Cajun Moon”

“Cajun Moon”

Ricky Skaggs

Written by Jim Rushing


#1 (1 week)

April 19, 1986

Much like with his former bandleader Emmylou Harris’ live album a few years earlier, Ricky Skaggs was uniquely positioned to make a compelling live album.  His own stellar band supported his already impressive musicianship, and his history of balancing classic and new material lent itself well to incorporating songs that hadn’t been included on previous albums.

“Cajun Moon” was written upon Skaggs’ own request to writer Jim Rushing, and it’s understandable why he’d want a Cajun-flavored track in his set list.  His band gets a chance to cut loose, and he gets to sing in two languages on the same record.  It’s the band’s work that’s most compelling here, though Skaggs’ initially tentative vocal blossoms when it reaches the chorus.  His French pronunciations are awkward, but when he goes pure country with the melody, all is forgiven.

Live in London is one of the most compelling live albums of its era, and is worth seeking out.

“Cajun Moon” gets a B+.

Every No. 1 Single of the Eighties

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  1. I loved this song and purchased the great LIVE IN LONDON as soon as it was available. Although I originally purchased it on a cassette, eventually I upgraded to a CD. Interestingly, the CD had four more songs on it (to be expected) and the songs were sequenced differently (not usually the case). I wrote an article for old My Kind of Country blog on the 25 greatest live country albums:

    Ricky Skaggs – Live In London

    Recorded and released during the peak of Ricky’s country popularity, this live album captures the electricity of a mid-1980s Ricky Skaggs concert. Released in 1986 on cassette and vinyl (ten songs), and on CD (fourteen songs), the CD version containing slightly different sequencing than the cassette and vinyl versions. Ricky’s biggest single “Cajun Moon” was taken off his album as was the top ten hit “I’ve Got A New Heartache”, a cover of a song that was big hit for Ray Price in 1956. Strangely, immediately after this album, Ricky’s country chart plateau descended to a lower level. Interesting tidbit: Elvis Costello sits in on guitar, and duets with Ricky on “Don’t Get Above Your Raising”.


    While Skaggs had nine Billboard #1 singles from 1981-1984, he would only have one more #1 single several years later. Plus his string of 16 consecutive top ten singles would end two singles after this one. After that there were some stray top tens but many of his singles would miss the top twenty.

    • It’s definitely among the most important live albums in country music history. Glad he got a No. 1 single off of it. Strange that it preceded a decline at radio. Skaggs seemed better equipped than most to navigate the new traditionalist surge of the late eighties. Of course, I’d say the same about Emmylou Harris, so maybe radio was prioritizing “young and new” as much as “new traditionalist.”

  2. What is often lost in the New Traditionalist narrative that will soon emerge is that acts like Milsap, Skaggs, Morris, and the Judds could all comfortably co-exist together at the top of the charts, and sound great doing it.

    These hits are evidence of how big a tent country music pitched.

    This kind of diversity in style and sound is not commonly associated with mid-’80s Nashville.

    Obviously, I need to listen to the Skaggs album.

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