Fly Me to the Moon

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"Fly Me to the Moon"
Record lable for Kaye Ballard's recording of "in Other Words" by Bart Howard.jpg
Single by Kaye Ballard with original title
Song by Kaye Ballard
ReleasedApril 1954
GenreTraditional pop
WriterBart Howard
ComposerBart Howard
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"Fly Me to the Moon"
Record lable for Kaye Ballard's recording of "in Other Words" by Bart Howard.jpg
Single by Kaye Ballard with original title
Song by Kaye Ballard
ReleasedApril 1954
GenreTraditional pop
WriterBart Howard
ComposerBart Howard

"Fly Me to the Moon", originally titled "In Other Words", is a popular song written in 1954 by Bart Howard which has become a frequently recorded jazz standard often featured in popular culture.

Writing the song and its earliest public performance[edit]

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.[1] He played piano to accompany cabaret singers but also wrote songs with Cole Porter being his idol.[2] In response to a publisher's request for a simpler song,[3] Bart Howard wrote a cabaret balled in waltz time[4] 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.[5] Many years later Howard commented that “... it took me 20 years to find out how to write a song in 20 minutes".[5]

He used his position as a piano accompanist and presenter at the Blue Angel cabaret venue to promote the song[6] and it was soon introduced in cabaret performances by Felicia Sanders.[2]

Early recordings of "In Other Words"[edit]

Kaye Ballard made the first commercial recording of "In Other Words"[7] 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]

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

Becoming more popular as "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.[2] 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.[5] In the early 1960s versions of the song were released under its new name by many well known singers, e.g., 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 "Llevame A La Luna".[24]

In late 1962 Joe Harnell arranged and recorded an instrumental version in a bossa nova style which was released on an album[25] which reached #3 on the Billboard 200 chart.[26] Harnell's version of the song was also released as a single[27] which reached #14 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart[28] and won Harnell a Grammy award.[29] Versions of the song were released by many other 1960s instrumental artists, e.g., Roy Haynes,[30] Al Hirt[31] and Oscar Peterson.[32]

Quincy Jones presents platinum copies of Frank Sinatra's version of "Fly Me to the Moon" to Senator John Glenn and Apollo 11 Commander Neil Armstrong.

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".[4]

Bart Howard estimated that by the time Frank Sinatra covered the song in 1964 more than 100 other versions had been recorded.[4] By 1995 it had been recorded more than 300 times.[10] A search of the website Second Hand Songs will provide a list of some 150 versions of the song.[35]

Association with the Apollo 11 Moon Landing Mission[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.[36] 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.[37] The song’s association with the Apollo 11 was reprised many years later when Diana Krall sang it at the mission's 40th anniversary commemoration ceremony.[38] She also sang a “slow and solemn version” in 2012 at the national memorial service for Apollo 11 mission commander Neil Armstrong.[39]

Appearance in popular culture e.g. film, television and video games[edit]

"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".[40] In the 1978-82 series WKRP in Cincinnati, character Jennifer Marlowe's doorbell plays the song. 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. The song has been featured in film soundtracks e.g. the 1987 film Wall Street[41] and the 2001 film Bridget Jones's Diary.[42] The song was used extensively in the 2010 video game Bayonetta.[43] It was also the ending theme song for the anime Neon Genesis Evangelion.

Recognition as a "Towering Song"[edit]

In 1999 The USA based Songwriters Hall of Fame recognised the importance of "Fly Me to the Moon" by inducting it as a "Towering Song"[44] 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.”[45]


  1. ^ "Famous Iowans - Bart Howard | The Des Moines Register |". Retrieved 2013-12-07. 
  2. ^ a b c By 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. 
  3. ^ James Gavin, "Intimate Nights: The Golden age Of New York Cabaret", New York, Back Stage Books, 2006 cited in, Retrieved 26 November 2013
  4. ^ a b c Will Friedwald, "Sinatra! The Song Is You: A Singer's Art", Scribner, New York, 1995, page 411
  5. ^ a b c Stephen Holden, "Product of 20 Minutes: A Million Dollar Song", New York Times, Published December 19, 1988, Retrieved 26 November 2013
  6. ^ James Gavin, "Intimate Nights: The Golden Age Of New York Cabaret", New York, Back Stage Books, 2006 cited in, Retrieved 26 November 2013
  7. ^ Kaye Ballard, "In Other Words", Decca, 9-29114, 1954, Retrieved 26 November 2013
  8. ^ 45cat, Decca, 9-29114,, Retrieved 27 November 2013
  9. ^ Nielsen Business Media, Inc. (8 May 1954). Billboard. Nielsen Business Media, Inc. pp. 24–. ISSN 00062510. Retrieved 7 December 2013. 
  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. ^ Chris Connor, "Chris", Bethlehem BCP-56, 1956 discussed in "The Chris Connor Bio-Discography: Bethlehem Period" by Iván Santiago Mercado, Retrieved 26 November 2013
  12. ^ Johnny Mathis, "Johnny Mathis", Columbia CL 887,1956, Retrieved 26 November 2013
  13. ^ Portia Nelson, "Let Me Love You: Portia Nelson Sings the Songs of Bart Howard", New Sound (NS)3002, 1956,, Retrieved 26 November 2013
  14. ^ Nancy Wilson, "Like in Love", Capitol Records, T-1319/ST-1319, 1960, Retrieved 27 November 2013
  15. ^ "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
  16. ^ Cashbox Charts, Week of 18 October 1958,, Retrieved 1 December 2013
  17. ^ "Grammy Award for Best Female Pop Vocal Performance",,_Female, Retrieved 27 November 2013
  18. ^ Peggy Lee, "Pretty Eyes",Capitol T 1401 /ST 1401, 1960, Retrieved 26 Novemvber 2013
  19. ^ Todd S. Jenkins, "Bart Howard: Composer of 'Fly Me To The Moon', 'Let Me Love You' ",, Retrieved 26 November 2013
  20. ^ Nat King Cole and George Shearing, Nat King Cole Sings George Shearing Plays, Capitol Records SM-1675, 1962,, Retrieved 1 December 2013
  21. ^ Sarah Vaughan, "You're Mine You", Roulette Records, SR 52082, 1962,, Retrieved 1 December 2013
  22. ^ Brenda Lee, "All Alone Am I", Decca DL 74370 , 1963,, Retrieved 1 December 2013
  23. ^ 45cat, MGM K 2078, 1963
  24. ^ 45cat, MGM, HT 057-78, 1963,
  25. ^ Joe Harnell His Piano and Orchestra, "Fly Me to the Moon Bossa Nova Pops",, Retrieved 29 November 20132
  26. ^ Nielsen Business Media, Inc. (24 October 1964). Billboard. Nielsen Business Media, Inc. ISSN 00062510. Retrieved 7 December 2013. 
  27. ^ Joe Harnell & His Orchestra, "Fly Me To The Moon", Kapp Records K-497X,
  28. ^ Nielsen Business Media, Inc. (23 February 1963). Billboard. Nielsen Business Media, Inc. pp. 51–. ISSN 00062510. Retrieved 7 December 2013. 
  29. ^ "Joe Harnell, 80; Pianist, Conductor, Composer, Arranger - Los Angeles Times". 1994-09-29. Retrieved 2013-12-07. 
  30. ^ Roy Haynes Quartet, "Out in the Afternoon",, Retrieved 30 November 2013
  31. ^ Al Hirt, "Honey in the Horn", RCA Victor, LPM 2763, 1963,
  32. ^ "Oscar Peterson Trio, The - The Oscar Peterson Trio Plays at Discogs". Retrieved 2013-12-07. 
  33. ^ Frank Sinatra and Count Basie, "It Might As Well Be Swing", Reprise Records FS-1012, 1964,, Retrieved 1 December 2013
  34. ^ Count Basie And His Orchestra, "This time By Basie: Hits of the 50's & 60's", Reprise RecordsR9-6070, 1963,, Retrieved 1 December 2013
  35. ^ Second Hand Songs,, Retrieved 1 December 2013
  36. ^ Music to the Moon: The Apollo X Music Tape, 13 April 2006,
  37. ^ Diane K. Shah, "On Q", New York Times, Published: November 18, 1990,, Retrieved 2 December 2013
  38. ^ NASA, "NASA TV's This Week @NASA" 24 July 2009,, Retrieved 1 December 2013
  39. ^ "Neil Armstrong remembered at public memorial", BBC News (USA and Canada), 13 September 2012,, Retrieved 1 December 2013
  40. ^ IMDB, "I Dream of Jeanie" Series 3, Episode 1,, Retrieved 1 December 2013
  41. ^ IMBD, "Wall Street" 1987, Soundtrack,, Retrieved 30 November 2013
  42. ^ IMDB, "Bridget Jones's Diary" (2001) Soundtracks, Retrieved 4 December 2013
  43. ^ Tuesday Tunes: "Bayonetta's Fly Me To The Moon", 27 March 2012,, Retrieved 1 December 2013
  44. ^ "1999 Award and Induction Ceremony". Songwriters Hall of Fame. 1999-06-09. Retrieved 2013-12-07. 
  45. ^ "Towering Song". Songwriters Hall of Fame. Retrieved 2013-12-07. 

External links[edit]