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
ReleasedApril 1954
Songwriter(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 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. It is also used in the Japanese animated series Neon Genesis Evangelion as the closing music 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"[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 over 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 words 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".[citation needed] It was released by Decca in April 1954.[8] 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."[9] 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.[10]

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.[citation needed] Eydie Gormé featured the song on her 1958 album Eydie In Love,[11] which reached #20 in the Cashbox Album Charts[12] and was nominated for a Grammy Award.

"Fly Me to the Moon"[edit]

In 1960, Peggy Lee released the song on the album Pretty Eyes,[13] 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",[14] 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, Sarah Vaughan and Brenda Lee.[citation needed] Connie Francis released two non-English versions of the song in 1963: in Italian as "Portami Con Te"[15] and in Spanish as "Llévame a la Luna".[16]

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.[17][18] Harnell's version spent 13 weeks on the Billboard Hot 100 chart, reaching No. 14 on February 23, 1963,[19] while reaching No. 4 on Billboard's Middle-Road Singles chart.[20][21] Harnell's version was ranked No. 89 on Billboard's end of year ranking "Top Records of 1963".[22]

Harnell's recording won him a Grammy Award at the 5th Annual Grammy Awards for Best Performance by an Orchestra – for Dancing.[23][24]

Harnell's version was included on his album Fly Me to the Moon and the Bossa Nova Pops[25] released in early 1963, which reached No. 3 stereo album on the Billboard Top LP's chart.[26]

Versions of the song were released by many other 1960s instrumental artists, including Roy Haynes, Al Hirt and Oscar Peterson.[citation needed]

Frank Sinatra included the song on his 1964 album It Might as Well Be Swing, accompanied by Count Basie.[27] The music for this album was arranged by Quincy Jones,[27][28] 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".[29] 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".[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.[10] One notable example is a remix of the song used as a main theme for Platinum Games's PS3 game Bayonetta, which is sung by Helena Noguerra.

NASA association[edit]

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

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.[30] 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.[31] 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.[32] She also sang a “slow and solemn version” in 2012 at the national memorial service for Apollo 11 mission commander Neil Armstrong.[33]


  1. ^ "1999 Award and Induction Ceremony". Songwriters Hall of Fame. 1999-06-09. Archived from the original on 2013-12-07. 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 - Decca - USA - 9-29114". 2012-11-25. Retrieved 2016-09-26.
  9. ^ Billboard. 1954-05-08. p. 24. Retrieved 2016-09-26.
  10. ^ 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
  11. ^ "ABC-Paramount Album Discography, Part 2". 2005-09-01. Retrieved 2016-09-26.
  12. ^ Carolyn Hope (2007-09-11). "Barry's Hits of All Decades Pop rock n roll Music Chart Hits". Retrieved 2016-09-26.
  13. ^ "Pretty Eyes - Peggy Lee". AllMusic. Retrieved February 17, 2018.
  14. ^ "Bart Howard: 1915-2004". Retrieved 2016-09-26.
  15. ^ "Connie Francis - Mala Femmena / Portami Con Te (Fly Me To The Moon) - MGM - Italy - K 2078". Retrieved 2016-09-26.
  16. ^ "Connie Francis - Connie Francis Canta En Español - MGM - Spain". 2015-02-15. Retrieved 2016-09-26.
  17. ^ "Reviews of New Singles", Billboard, November 10, 1962. p. 52. Retrieved February 17, 2018.
  18. ^ Thompson, Dave (2016). Standard Catalog of American Records, F+W Media, Inc. p. 567. Retrieved February 17, 2018.
  19. ^ Hot 100 - Joe Harnell and His Orchestra Fly Me to the Moon - Bossa Nova Chart History, Retrieved February 17, 2018.
  20. ^ "Middle-Road Singles", Billboard, February 23, 1963. p. 42. Retrieved February 17, 2018.
  21. ^ Adult Contemporary - Joe Harnell and His Orchestra Fly Me to the Moon - Bossa Nova Chart History, Retrieved February 17, 2018.
  22. ^ "Top Records of 1963", Billboard, Section II, December 28, 1963. p. 30. Retrieved February 17, 2018.
  23. ^ Joe Harnell, Recording Academy Grammy Awards, Retrieved February 17, 2018.
  24. ^ "Joe Harnell, 80; Pianist, Conductor, Composer, Arranger - Los Angeles Times". 1994-09-29. Retrieved 2013-12-07.
  25. ^ "Fly Me to the Moon and the Bossa Nova Pops - Joe Harnell & His Orchestra, Joe Harnell". AllMusic. Retrieved February 17, 2018.
  26. ^ "Billboard Top LP's for Week Ending March 16". Billboard. 1963-03-16. p. 66. Retrieved 2018-02-17.
  27. ^ a b "It Might as Well Be Swing - Count Basie, Frank Sinatra". AllMusic. Retrieved February 17, 2018.
  28. ^ "It Might as Well Be Swing - Count Basie, Frank Sinatra - Credits". AllMusic. Retrieved February 17, 2018.
  29. ^ "This Time by Basie: Hits of the 50's - Count Basie". AllMusic. Retrieved February 17, 2018.
  30. ^ "Lunar Collections: April 2006". 2006-04-13. Retrieved 2016-09-26.
  31. ^ Diane K. Shah (November 18, 1990). ""On Q"". The New York Times. Retrieved 1 December 2013.
  32. ^ "NASA - NASA TV's This Week @NASA, July 24". 2009-07-24. Retrieved 2016-09-26.
  33. ^ "Neil Armstrong remembered at public memorial". BBC News. Retrieved 2016-09-26.

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