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Fly Me to the Moon

"Fly Me to the Moon"
First recording titled "In Other Words"
Song by Kaye Ballard
Released April 1954
Recorded 1954
Genre Traditional pop, Bossa nova
Length 2:14
Label Decca
Writer Bart Howard

"Fly Me to the Moon", originally titled "In Other Words", is a popular song written in 1954 by Bart Howard. Kaye Ballard made the first recording of the song in 1954. Since then it has become a frequently recorded jazz standard often featured in popular culture. Frank Sinatra's 1964 version was closely associated with the Apollo missions to the Moon.

In 1999, the USA-based Songwriters Hall of Fame recognized the importance of "Fly Me to the Moon" by inducting it as a "Towering Song"[1] which is an award "...presented each year to the creators of an individual song that has influenced our culture in a unique way over many years.”[2]


  • Background and composition 1
  • Early recordings 2
  • "Fly Me to the Moon" 3
  • In popular culture 4
    • NASA association 4.1
  • References 5
  • External links 6

Background and composition

In 1954, when writing the song which would become famous as "Fly Me to the Moon", Bart Howard had been pursuing a career in music for more than 20 years.[3] He played piano to accompany cabaret singers but also wrote songs with Cole Porter, his idol, in mind.[4] In response to a publisher's request for a simpler song,[5] Bart Howard wrote a cabaret ballad in waltz time[6] which he titled "In Other Words". A publisher tried to make him change some lyrics from "fly me to the moon" to "take me to the moon" but Howard refused to do this.[7] Many years later Howard commented that “... it took me 20 years to find out how to write a song in 20 minutes".[7]

He used his position as a piano accompanist and presenter at the Blue Angel cabaret venue to promote the song[8] and it was soon introduced in cabaret performances by Felicia Sanders.[4]

Early recordings

Kaye Ballard circa late 1950s

Kaye Ballard made the first commercial recording of "In Other Words".[9] It was released by Decca in April 1954.[10] A brief review published on 8 May 1954 in Billboard said that "In Other Words" was "A love song sung with feeling by Miss Ballard."[11] This recording was released as the flipside of "Lazy Afternoon" which Kaye Ballard was currently performing as star of the stage show The Golden Apple.[12]

During the next few years jazz and cabaret singers released cover versions of "In Other Words" on EP or LP record albums including Chris Connor,[13] Johnny Mathis,[14] Portia Nelson[15] and Nancy Wilson.[16] Eydie Gormé featured the song on her 1958 album "Eydie In Love"[17] which reached #20 in the Cashbox Album Charts[18] and was nominated for a Grammy award.

"Fly Me to the Moon"

In 1960 Peggy Lee recorded the song[19] then made it more popular when she performed it in front of a large television audience on The Ed Sullivan Show.[4] As the song's popularity increased, it became better known as "Fly Me to the Moon"[20] and in 1963 Peggy Lee convinced Bart Howard to make the name change official.[7] In the early 1960s versions of the song were released under its new name by many well known singers, including Nat King Cole,[21] Sarah Vaughan[22] and Brenda Lee.[23] Connie Francis released two non-English versions of the song in 1963: in Italian as "Portami Con Te"[24] and in Spanish as "Llévame a la Luna".[25]

Fly Me to the Moon Bossa Nova 1963 album by Joe Harnell

In 1962 Joe Harnell arranged and recorded an instrumental version in a bossa nova style. It was released as a single in late 1962,[26] reached #14 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart in early 1963[27] and won Harnell a Grammy award.[28] Harnell's version was included on his album Fly Me to the Moon and the Bossa Nova Pops[29] released in early 1963 which reached #3 stereo album on the Billboard 200 chart.[30] Versions of the song were released by many other 1960s instrumental artists, including Roy Haynes[31] Al Hirt[32] and Oscar Peterson.[33]

Frank Sinatra included the song on his 1964 album It Might as Well Be Swing[34] accompanied by Count Basie. The music for this album was arranged by Quincy Jones who had worked with Count Basie a year earlier on the album This Time by Basie[35] which also included a version of "Fly Me to the Moon". Will Friedwald comments that: "Jones boosted the tempo and put it into an even four/four" for Basie's version but "when Sinatra decided to address it with the Basie/Jones combination they recharged it into a straight swinger... [which]...all but explodes with energy".[6]

Bart Howard estimated that by the time Frank Sinatra covered the song in 1964, more than 100 other versions had been recorded.[6] By 1995 it had been recorded more than 300 times.[12] A search of the website Second Hand Songs will list more than 150 versions of the song in chronological order.[36]

In popular culture

Quincy Jones presents platinum copies of Frank Sinatra's album to Senator John Glenn and Apollo 11 Commander Neil Armstrong

"Fly Me to the Moon" has often been used or referenced in popular culture including television shows, films and video games. In 1967 an episode of I Dream of Jeannie was titled "Fly Me to the Moon".[37] In the 1978-82 series WKRP in Cincinnati, character Jennifer Marlowe's doorbell plays the song.[38] In 1998 Sesame Street featured Tony Bennett performing a parody of the song for an action sequence in which the show's character Slimey the Worm took a trip to the moon.[39] The song has been featured in film soundtracks, including the 1987 film Wall Street[40] and the 2001 films Space Cowboys and Bridget Jones's Diary.[41] Multiple modern recordings of "Fly Me to the Moon" were individually used as the end of each episode for the closing credits of the anime series, Neon Genesis Evangelion, as well as the basis for several background non-vocal themes used in the TV show. The song was also used extensively in the 2010 video game Bayonetta.[42]

NASA association

Frank Sinatra's 1964 recording of "Fly Me to the Moon" became closely associated with NASA's Apollo space program. A copy of the song was played on the Apollo 10 mission which orbited the Moon.[43] It became "the first music ever heard on the Moon" when played on a portable cassette player by Apollo 11 astronaut Buzz Aldrin after he stepped onto the Moon.[44] The song’s association with Apollo 11 was reprised many years later when Diana Krall sang it at the mission's 40th anniversary commemoration ceremony.[45] She also sang a “slow and solemn version” in 2012 at the national memorial service for Apollo 11 mission commander Neil Armstrong.[46]


  1. ^ "1999 Award and Induction Ceremony". Songwriters Hall of Fame. 1999-06-09. Retrieved 2013-12-07. 
  2. ^ "Towering Song". Songwriters Hall of Fame. Retrieved 2013-12-07. 
  3. ^ "Famous Iowans - Bart Howard | The Des Moines Register |". Retrieved 2013-12-07. 
  4. ^ a b c STEPHEN HOLDENPublished: February 23, 2004 (2004-02-23). "Bart Howard, 88, Songwriter Known for 'Fly Me to the Moon' - New York Times". Retrieved 2013-12-07. 
  5. ^ James Gavin, "Intimate Nights: The Golden age Of New York Cabaret", New York, Back Stage Books, 2006 cited in Retrieved 26 November 2013
  6. ^ a b c Will Friedwald, "Sinatra! The Song Is You: A Singer's Art", Scribner, New York, 1995, page 411
  7. ^ a b c Stephen Holden, "Product of 20 Minutes: A Million Dollar Song", New York Times, Published December 19, 1988 Retrieved 26 November 2013
  8. ^ James Gavin, "Intimate Nights: The Golden Age Of New York Cabaret", New York, Back Stage Books, 2006 cited in Retrieved 26 November 2013
  9. ^ Kaye Ballard, "In Other Words", Decca, 9-29114, 1954 Retrieved 26 November 2013
  10. ^ 45cat, Decca, 9-29114, Retrieved 27 November 2013
  11. ^ , 8 May 1954 , Page 24BillboardNielsen Business Media, Inc., , Retrieved 15 April 2014
  12. ^ a b Liz Smith, Liner Notes for the CD Portia Nelson, "Let Me Love You: Portia Nelson Sings the Songs of Bart Howard", DRG 91442, 1995
  13. ^ Chris Connor, Chris, Bethlehem BCP-56, 1956 Retrieved 14 April 2014
  14. ^ Johnny Mathis, "Johnny Mathis", Columbia CL 887,1956 Retrieved 26 November 2013
  15. ^ Portia Nelson, "Let Me Love You: Portia Nelson Sings the Songs of Bart Howard", New Sound (NS)3002, 1956, Retrieved 16 April 2014
  16. ^ Nancy Wilson, "Like in Love", Capitol Records, T-1319/ST-1319, 1960 Retrieved 27 November 2013
  17. ^ "Eydie In Love", ABC Paramount ABC/ABCS 246, 1958 as detailed in David Edwards, Patrice Eyries, and Mike Callahan, "ABC-Paramount Album Discography, Part 2 ABC-200 to 299 (1957-1959)", Retrieved 26 November 2013
  18. ^ Cashbox Charts, Week of 18 October 1958, Retrieved 1 December 2013
  19. ^ Peggy Lee, "Pretty Eyes",Capitol T 1401 /ST 1401, 1960 Retrieved 26 November 2013
  20. ^ Todd S. Jenkins, "Bart Howard: Composer of 'Fly Me To The Moon', 'Let Me Love You' ", Retrieved 26 November 2013
  21. ^ Nat King Cole and George Shearing, Nat King Cole Sings George Shearing Plays, Capitol Records SM-1675, 1962, Retrieved 1 December 2013
  22. ^ Sarah Vaughan, "You're Mine You", Roulette Records, SR 52082, 1962, Retrieved 1 December 2013
  23. ^ Brenda Lee, "All Alone Am I", Decca DL 74370 , 1963, Retrieved 1 December 2013
  24. ^ 45cat, MGM K 2078, 1963
  25. ^ 45cat, MGM, HT 057-78, 1963,
  26. ^ Joe Harnell & His Orchestra, "Fly Me To The Moon", Kapp Records K-497X,
  27. ^ , 23 February 1963, Page 28BillboardNielsen Business Media, Inc., , Retrieved 28 December 2014
  28. ^ "Joe Harnell, 80; Pianist, Conductor, Composer, Arranger - Los Angeles Times". 1994-09-29. Retrieved 2013-12-07. 
  29. ^ Joe Harnell His Piano and Orchestra, "Fly Me to the Moon Bossa Nova Pops", Retrieved 29 November 20132
  30. ^ , 16 March 1963, Page 66BillboardNielsen Business Media, Inc., , Retrieved 28 December 2014
  31. ^ Roy Haynes Quartet, "Out in the Afternoon", Retrieved 30 November 2013
  32. ^ Al Hirt, "Honey in the Horn", RCA Victor, LPM 2763, 1963, Retrieved 14 April 2014
  33. ^ The Oscar Peterson Trio, The Oscar Peterson Trio Plays, Verve Records, V-8591 and VS-8591, 1964: Retrieved 15 April 2014
  34. ^ Frank Sinatra and Count Basie, "It Might As Well Be Swing", Reprise Records FS-1012, 1964, Retrieved 1 December 2013
  35. ^ Count Basie And His Orchestra, This Time By Basie: Hits of the 50's & 60's, Reprise Records R9-6070, 1963, Retrieved 1 December 2013
  36. ^ Second Hand Songs"Fly Me to the Moon" versions on , Retrieved 16 April 2014
  37. ^ IMDB, "I Dream of Jeanie" Series 3, Episode 1, Retrieved 1 December 2013
  38. ^ Michael B. Kassel, "America's Favorite Radio Station: WKRP in Cincinnati", Bowling Green University Press, 1993, page 148 : Retrieved 14 April 2014
  39. ^ Steve Johnson, "`Sesame Street' Jumps The Gun On Its 30th--but So What?", Chicago Tribune, 20 February 1998: Retrieved 14 April 2014
  40. ^ IMBD, "Wall Street" 1987, Soundtrack, Retrieved 30 November 2013
  41. ^ IMDB, "Bridget Jones's Diary" (2001) Soundtracks Retrieved 4 December 2013
  42. ^ Tuesday Tunes: "Bayonetta's ", 27 March 2012, Retrieved 1 December 2013
  43. ^ Music to the Moon: The Apollo X Music Tape, 13 April 2006,
  44. ^ Diane K. Shah, "On Q", New York Times, Published: November 18, 1990, Retrieved 2 December 2013
  45. ^ NASA, "NASA TV's This Week @NASA" 24 July 2009, Retrieved 1 December 2013
  46. ^ "Neil Armstrong remembered at public memorial", BBC News (USA and Canada), 13 September 2012, Retrieved 1 December 2013

External links

  • Full lyrics of this song at MetroLyrics
  • ASCAP Foundation: Bart Howard Provides A Musical Gift
  • "Fly Me to the Moon (In Other Words)" at MusicBrainz (information & list of recordings)
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