Fly Me to the Moon
|"In Other Words"|
First recording titled "In Other Words"
|Song by Kaye Ballard|
"Fly Me to the Moon", originally titled "In Other Words", is a song written in 1954 by Bart Howard. Kaye Ballard made the first recording of the song the year it was written. 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, and the Japanese animated series Neon Genesis Evangelion played the song at the end of each episode.
In 1999, the US-based Songwriters Hall of Fame recognized the importance of "Fly Me to the Moon" by inducting it as a "Towering Song" 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.”
Background and composition
In 1954, when writing the song which would become "Fly Me to the Moon", Bart Howard had been pursuing a career in music for over 20 years. He played piano to accompany cabaret singers but also wrote songs with Cole Porter, his idol, in mind. In response to a publisher's request for a simpler song, Bart Howard wrote a cabaret ballad in waltz time which he titled "In Other Words". A publisher tried to make him change some words from "fly me to the moon" to "take me to the moon", but Howard refused to do this. Many years later Howard commented that "... it took me 20 years to find out how to write a song in 20 minutes".
Kaye Ballard made the first commercial recording of "In Other Words". It was released by Decca in April 1954. 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." 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.
Over the next few years, jazz and cabaret singers released cover versions of "In Other Words" on EP or LP record albums, including Chris Connor, Johnny Mathis, Portia Nelson and Nancy Wilson. Eydie Gormé featured the song on her 1958 album Eydie In Love, which reached #20 in the Cashbox Album Charts and was nominated for a Grammy Award.
"Fly Me to the Moon"
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In 1960, Peggy Lee released the song on the album Pretty Eyes, then made it more popular when she performed it in front of a large television audience on The Ed Sullivan Show. As the song's popularity increased, it became better known as "Fly Me to the Moon", and in 1963 Peggy Lee convinced Bart Howard to make the name change official. In the early 1960s, versions of the song were released under its new name by many well-known singers, including Nat King Cole, Sarah Vaughan and Brenda Lee. Connie Francis released two non-English versions of the song in 1963: in Italian as "Portami Con Te" and in Spanish as "Llévame a la Luna".
In 1962, Joe Harnell arranged and recorded an instrumental version in a bossa nova style. It was released as a single in late 1962. Harnell's version spent 13 weeks on the Billboard Hot 100 chart, reaching No. 14 on February 23, 1963, while reaching No. 4 on Billboard's Middle-Road Singles chart. Harnell's version was ranked No. 89 on Billboard's end of year ranking "Top Records of 1963".
Frank Sinatra included the song on his 1964 album It Might as Well Be Swing, 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, which also included a version of "Fly Me to the Moon". Will Friedwald commented 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".
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. It became the first music heard on the Moon when played on a portable cassette player by Apollo 11 astronaut Buzz Aldrin after he stepped onto the Moon. 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. She also sang a “slow and solemn version” in 2012 at the national memorial service for Apollo 11 mission commander Neil Armstrong.
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