Fly Me to the Moon

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"In Other Words"
Kaye Ballard In Other Words Decca Records Inc. Catalog Number 9 29114 Photographed 15 April 2014.JPG
First recording titled "In Other Words"
Song by Kaye Ballard
Released April 1954
Recorded 1954
Genre Jazz
Length 2:14
Label Decca
Writer(s) Bart Howard

"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 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 US-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[edit]

In 1954, when writing the song which would become "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,[5] and it was soon introduced in cabaret performances by Felicia Sanders.[4]

Early recordings[edit]

Kaye Ballard circa late 1950s

Kaye Ballard made the first commercial recording of "In Other Words".[8] It was released by Decca in April 1954.[9] 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."[10] 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.[11]

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,[12] Johnny Mathis,[13] Portia Nelson[14] and Nancy Wilson.[15] Eydie Gormé featured the song on her 1958 album "Eydie In Love"[16] which reached #20 in the Cashbox Album Charts[17] and was nominated for a Grammy award.

"Fly Me to the Moon"[edit]

In 1960 Peggy Lee recorded the song[18] 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"[19] 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,[20] Sarah Vaughan[21] and Brenda Lee.[22] Connie Francis released two non-English versions of the song in 1963: in Italian as "Portami Con Te"[23] and in Spanish as "Llévame a la Luna".[24]

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

Frank Sinatra included the song on his 1964 album It Might as Well Be Swing[33] 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[34] 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]

Other releases[edit]

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.[11] A search of the website Second Hand Songs will list more than 150 versions of the song in chronological order.[35]

Other releases include these by:

In popular culture[edit]

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".[36] In the 1978-82 series WKRP in Cincinnati, character Jennifer Marlowe's doorbell plays the song.[37] 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.[38] The song has been featured in film soundtracks, including the 1987 film Wall Street[39] and the 2001 films Space Cowboys and Bridget Jones's Diary.[40] 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 2009 video game Bayonetta.[41] In 2014, the song was played in the scene of the Movie RoboCop where the main protagonist was waking up after being made into a cyborg.

NASA association[edit]

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.[42] 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.[43] 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.[44] She also sang a “slow and solemn version” in 2012 at the national memorial service for Apollo 11 mission commander Neil Armstrong.[45]


  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 HOLDEN (2004-02-23). "Bart Howard, 88, Songwriter Known for 'Fly Me to the Moon' - New York Times". Retrieved 2013-12-07. 
  5. ^ a b ""Fly Me to the Moon": Song History, Commentary, Discography, Performances on Video". 2004-02-23. Retrieved 2016-09-26. 
  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 (December 19, 1988). "Product of 20 Minutes: A Million Dollar Song". The New York Times. Retrieved 26 November 2013. 
  8. ^ "Kaye Ballard - In Other Words / Lazy Afternoon (Vinyl)". Retrieved 2016-09-26. 
  9. ^ "Kaye Ballard - In Other Words / Lazy Afternoon - Decca - USA - 9-29114". 2012-11-25. Retrieved 2016-09-26. 
  10. ^ Billboard. 1954-05-08. p. 24. Retrieved 2016-09-26. 
  11. ^ 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
  12. ^ "Chris Connor - Chris (Vinyl, LP)". Retrieved 2016-09-26. 
  13. ^ "Johnny Mathis - Johnny Mathis". Retrieved 2016-09-26. 
  14. ^ "Portia Nelson - Let Me Love You (Vinyl, LP, Album)". Retrieved 2016-09-26. 
  15. ^ "Nancy Wilson - Like In Love". Retrieved 2016-09-26. 
  16. ^ "ABC-Paramount Album Discography, Part 2". 2005-09-01. Retrieved 2016-09-26. 
  17. ^ Carolyn Hope (2007-09-11). "Barry's Hits of All Decades Pop rock n roll Music Chart Hits". Retrieved 2016-09-26. 
  18. ^ "Peggy Lee - Pretty Eyes". Retrieved 2016-09-26. 
  19. ^ "Bart Howard: 1915-2004". Retrieved 2016-09-26. 
  20. ^ "Nat King Cole & George Shearing - Nat King Cole Sings / George Shearing Plays (Vinyl, LP, Album)". Retrieved 2016-09-26. 
  21. ^ "Sarah Vaughan, "You're Mine You", Roulette Records". Retrieved 2016-09-26. 
  22. ^ "Brenda Lee - All Alone Am I (Vinyl, LP)". Retrieved 2016-09-26. 
  23. ^ "Connie Francis - Mala Femmena / Portami Con Te (Fly Me To The Moon) - MGM - Italy - K 2078". Retrieved 2016-09-26. 
  24. ^ "Connie Francis - Connie Francis Canta En Español - MGM - Spain". 2015-02-15. Retrieved 2016-09-26. 
  25. ^ "Joe Harnell And His Orchestra* - Fly Me To The Moon / Harlem Nocturne". Retrieved 2016-09-26. 
  26. ^ Billboard. 1963-02-23. p. 14. Retrieved 2016-09-26. 
  27. ^ "Joe Harnell, 80; Pianist, Conductor, Composer, Arranger - Los Angeles Times". 1994-09-29. Retrieved 2013-12-07. 
  28. ^ "Joe Harnell His Piano And Orchestra* - Fly Me To The Moon And The Bossa Nova Pops". 2015-10-08. Retrieved 2016-09-26. 
  29. ^ "Billboard". 1963-03-16. p. 78. Retrieved 2016-09-26. 
  30. ^ "Roy Haynes Quartet - Out Of The Afternoon". 2016-06-14. Retrieved 2016-09-26. 
  31. ^ "Al Hirt - Honey In The Horn (Vinyl, LP, Album)". Retrieved 2016-09-26. 
  32. ^ "The Oscar Peterson Trio - The Oscar Peterson Trio Plays". Retrieved 2016-09-26. 
  33. ^ "Frank Sinatra • Count Basie And His Orchestra* - It Might As Well Be Swing (Vinyl, LP, Album)". Retrieved 2016-09-26. 
  34. ^ "Count Basie - This Time By Basie - Hits Of The 50's & 60's! (Vinyl, LP, Album)". Retrieved 2016-09-26. 
  35. ^ "Cover versions of In Other Words written by Bart Howard". SecondHandSongs. Retrieved 2016-09-26. 
  36. ^ ""I Dream of Jeanie" Series 3, Episode 1". Retrieved 1 December 2013. 
  37. ^ Michael B. Kassel (1993-06-15). America's Favorite Radio Station: WKRP in Cincinnati. p. 49. Retrieved 2016-09-26. 
  38. ^ "`Sesame Street' Jumps The Gun On Its 30th-but So What? - Page 2 - tribunedigital-chicagotribune". 1998-02-20. Retrieved 2016-09-26. 
  39. ^ "Wall Street (1987), Soundtrack". Retrieved 30 November 2013. 
  40. ^ "Bridget Jones's Diary (2001) Soundtracks". Retrieved 4 December 2013. 
  41. ^ "SEGA Tunes: Bayonetta's Fly Me to the Moon". 2012-03-27. Retrieved 2016-09-26. 
  42. ^ "Lunar Collections: April 2006". 2006-04-13. Retrieved 2016-09-26. 
  43. ^ Diane K. Shah (November 18, 1990). ""On Q"". The New York Times. Retrieved 1 December 2013. 
  44. ^ "NASA - NASA TV's This Week @NASA, July 24". 2009-07-24. Retrieved 2016-09-26. 
  45. ^ "Neil Armstrong remembered at public memorial". BBC News. Retrieved 2016-09-26. 

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