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
GenreJazz, Bossa nova
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. Frank Sinatra's 1964 version was closely associated with the Apollo missions to the Moon.

In 1999, the Songwriters Hall of Fame honored "Fly Me to the Moon" by inducting it as a "Towering Song".[1] The song was featured in the 2003 film Down With Love.

Background and composition[edit]

In 1954, when he began to write the song that became "Fly Me to the Moon", Bart Howard had been pursuing a career in music for over 20 years.[2] He played piano to accompany cabaret singers, but also wrote songs with Cole Porter, his idol, in mind.[3] In response to a publisher's request for a simpler song,[4] Bart Howard wrote a cabaret ballad[5] 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.[6] Many years later Howard commented that "... it took me 20 years to find out how to write a song in 20 minutes."[6]

He used his position as a piano accompanist and presenter at the Blue Angel cabaret venue to promote the song,[4] and it was soon introduced in cabaret performances by Felicia Sanders.[3]

The song was composed in 3/4 time signature but was changed to 4/4 by Quincy Jones in his arrangement.

Early recordings[edit]

Kaye Ballard circa late 1950s

Kaye Ballard made the song's first[citation needed] commercial recording, released by Decca in April 1954.[7] 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."[8] 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.[9]

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 sang the song on her 1958 album Eydie In Love,[10] which reached #20 in the Cashbox Album Charts[11] 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,[12] then made it more popular when she performed it in front of a large television audience on The Ed Sullivan Show.[3] As the song's popularity increased, it became better known as "Fly Me to the Moon",[13] and in 1963 Peggy Lee convinced Bart Howard to make the name change official.[6] Connie Francis released two non-English versions of the song in 1963: in Italian as "Portami Con Te"[14] and in Spanish as "Llévame a la Luna".[15]

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.[16][17] Harnell's version spent 13 weeks on the Billboard Hot 100 chart, reaching #14 on February 23, 1963,[18] while reaching #4 on Billboard's Middle-Road Singles chart.[19][20] Harnell's version was ranked #89 on Billboard's end of year ranking "Top Records of 1963".[21] Harnell's recording won him a Grammy Award at the 5th Annual Grammy Awards for Best Performance by an Orchestra – for Dancing.[22][23] His version was included on his album Fly Me to the Moon and the Bossa Nova Pops[24] released in early 1963, which reached #3 stereo album on the Billboard Top LP's chart.[25]

Paul Anka released a version of "Fly Me To The Moon" in 1963.

Frank Sinatra included the song on his 1964 album It Might as Well Be Swing, accompanied by Count Basie.[26] The music for this album was arranged by Quincy Jones,[26][27] 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".[28] 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".[5] Bart Howard estimated that by the time Frank Sinatra covered the song in 1964, more than 100 other versions had been recorded.[5]

Bobby Womack recorded a version that was released in 1968 on Minit Records, from his album Fly Me to the Moon. His rendition reached #52 on the Billboard Hot 100 and #16 on the R&B chart.[29]

Occasionally during the CBS-TV series WKRP, an instrumental sampling of "Fly Me To The Moon" was used as a doorbell melody during scenes taking place in the apartment of character Jennifer Marlowe.

By 1995, the song had been recorded more than 300 times.[9] The Japanese animated series Neon Genesis Evangelion uses several versions of the song sung by Claire Littley, Yoko Takahashi, and various female cast members of the series for the closing music of each episode; the song was removed from the 2019 Netflix re-release in most regions due to licensing issues, much to the dismay of fans.[30][31][32]

During the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic a 6-year-old girl in China named Miumiu made national news when her home video of the song was found and edited by a group of Italian musicians led by Bruno Zucchetti, who added an instrumental accompaniment performed from their homes during lockdown.[33][34]

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 a Sony TC-50 portable cassette player on the Apollo 10 mission which orbited the Moon,[35] and also on Apollo 11 before the first landing on the Moon.[36][37] 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,[38] and also for mission commander Neil Armstrong's memorial service in 2012.[39]

The Sinatra version was also used in the 2000 NASA related fictional film Space Cowboys.


  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. ^ "Famous Iowans - Bart Howard | The Des Moines Register |". Archived from the original on 2013-12-07. Retrieved 2013-12-07.
  3. ^ a b c STEPHEN HOLDEN (2004-02-23). "Bart Howard, 88, Songwriter Known for 'Fly Me to the Moon' - New York Times". Archived from the original on 2013-12-19. Retrieved 2013-12-07.
  4. ^ a b ""Fly Me to the Moon": Song History, Commentary, Discography, Performances on Video". 2004-02-23. Archived from the original on 2016-08-18. Retrieved 2016-09-26.
  5. ^ a b c Will Friedwald, Sinatra! The Song Is You: A Singer's Art, Scribner, New York, 1995, page 411
  6. ^ a b c Stephen Holden (December 19, 1988). "Product of 20 Minutes: A Million Dollar Song". The New York Times. Archived from the original on 2013-12-19. Retrieved 26 November 2013.
  7. ^ "Kaye Ballard - In Other Words / Lazy Afternoon - Decca - USA - 9-29114". 2012-11-25. Retrieved 2016-09-26.
  8. ^ Billboard. 1954-05-08. p. 24. Retrieved 2016-09-26.
  9. ^ 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
  10. ^ "ABC-Paramount Album Discography, Part 2". 2005-09-01. Archived from the original on 2016-10-16. Retrieved 2016-09-26.
  11. ^ Carolyn Hope (2007-09-11). "Barry's Hits of All Decades Pop rock n roll Music Chart Hits". Archived from the original on 2018-09-19. Retrieved 2016-09-26.
  12. ^ "Pretty Eyes - Peggy Lee". AllMusic. Archived from the original on 2018-02-18. Retrieved February 17, 2018.
  13. ^ "Bart Howard: 1915-2004". Archived from the original on 2017-03-01. Retrieved 2016-09-26.
  14. ^ "Connie Francis - Mala Femmena / Portami Con Te (Fly Me To The Moon) - MGM - Italy - K 2078". Retrieved 2016-09-26.
  15. ^ "Connie Francis—Connie Francis Canta en Español—MGM, Spain". 2015-02-15. Retrieved 2016-09-26.
  16. ^ "Reviews of New Singles", Billboard, November 10, 1962. p. 52. Retrieved February 17, 2018.
  17. ^ Thompson, Dave (2016). Standard Catalog of American Records, F+W Media, Inc. p. 567. Retrieved February 17, 2018.
  18. ^ Hot 100 - Joe Harnell and His Orchestra Fly Me to the Moon - Bossa Nova Chart History Archived 2018-05-12 at the Wayback Machine, Retrieved February 17, 2018.
  19. ^ "Middle-Road Singles", Billboard, February 23, 1963. p. 42. Retrieved February 17, 2018.
  20. ^ Adult Contemporary - Joe Harnell and His Orchestra Fly Me to the Moon - Bossa Nova Chart History Archived 2018-05-12 at the Wayback Machine, Retrieved February 17, 2018.
  21. ^ "Top Records of 1963", Billboard, Section II, December 28, 1963. p. 30. Retrieved February 17, 2018.
  22. ^ Joe Harnell, Recording Academy Grammy Awards, Retrieved February 17, 2018.
  23. ^ "Joe Harnell, 80; Pianist, Conductor, Composer, Arranger - Los Angeles Times". 1994-09-29. Archived from the original on 2013-12-18. Retrieved 2013-12-07.
  24. ^ "Fly Me to the Moon and the Bossa Nova Pops - Joe Harnell & His Orchestra, Joe Harnell". AllMusic. Archived from the original on 2018-02-18. Retrieved February 17, 2018.
  25. ^ "Billboard Top LP's for Week Ending March 16". Billboard. 1963-03-16. p. 66. Retrieved 2018-02-17.
  26. ^ a b "It Might as Well Be Swing - Count Basie, Frank Sinatra". AllMusic. Archived from the original on 2018-02-18. Retrieved February 17, 2018.
  27. ^ "It Might as Well Be Swing - Count Basie, Frank Sinatra - Credits". AllMusic. Archived from the original on 2018-02-18. Retrieved February 17, 2018.
  28. ^ "This Time by Basie: Hits of the 50s - Count Basie". AllMusic. Archived from the original on 2018-02-18. Retrieved February 17, 2018.
  29. ^ "Bobby Womack Songs ••• Top Songs / Chart Singles Discography ••• Music VF, US & UK hits charts".
  30. ^ "鷺巣詩郎デビュー40周年記念アルバム『アニソン録 プラス。』リリース記念インタビュー(M-ON!Press(エムオンプレス))". Yahoo!ニュース (in Japanese). Archived from the original on 2018-12-06. Retrieved 2018-12-05.
  31. ^ Maas, Jennifer (21 June 2019). "Why Netflix Cut 'Fly Me to the Moon' From 'Neon Genesis Evangelion' Credits". The Wrap. Retrieved 22 June 2019.
  32. ^ Gonzalez, Oscar (June 21, 2019). "Neon Genesis Evangelion on Netflix erases iconic 'Fly Me to the Moon' outro". CNET. Retrieved June 21, 2019.
  33. ^ CGTN report
  34. ^ Bruno Zucchetti's edition of the home video
  35. ^ "Lunar Collections: April 2006". 2006-04-13. Archived from the original on 2016-08-07. Retrieved 2016-09-26.
  36. ^ Music on the Moon: Meet Mickey Kapp, Master of Apollo 11’s Astro-Mixtapes
  37. ^ Diane K. Shah (November 18, 1990). ""On Q"". The New York Times. Archived from the original on 2013-12-20. Retrieved 1 December 2013.
  38. ^ "NASA - NASA TV's This Week @NASA, July 24". 2009-07-24. Archived from the original on 2016-08-09. Retrieved 2016-09-26.
  39. ^ "Neil Armstrong remembered at public memorial". BBC News. Archived from the original on 2016-07-29. Retrieved 2016-09-26.

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