Bart Howard composed “In Other Words” – which later become popular as “Fly Me to the Moon” – in 1954.

Tune in today as we celebrate Jazz Appreciation Month with some of this compositions most notable covers!

Howard had been pursuing a career in music for 20 years, playing piano to accompany cabaret singers and working on his original compositions, when he penned this tune. When writing the tune, he refused a publisher’s request to change the lyrics from “fly me to the moon” to “take me to the moon.”

Kaye Ballard was the first to record “In Other Words,” released by Decca Records in April 1954. At the time, Ballard was the star of the off-Broadway musical The Golden Apple, which soon after made its Broadway debut.

In the few years that followed, many jazz and cabaret artists covered the tune, including Eydie Gormé’s version for her 1958 album “Eydie in Love,” which was nominated for a Grammy.

The popularity of the song continued to increase when Peggy Lee performed it live on The Ed Sullivan Show in 1960. As more people referred to the song as “Fly Me to the Moon,” Lee convinced Howard to change the name in the early ‘60s.

At this time, artists like Nat King Cole, Sarah Vaughan and Brenda Lee were recording the tune. In 1962 Joe Harnell arranged and recorded an instrumental bossa nova version, which reached #14 on the Billboard charts and earned him a Grammy Award the following year. In 1963 Connie Frances released a version in Italian and a version in Spanish.

Perhaps the most popular recording was Quincy Jones’ arrangement for Frank Sinatra’s 1964 album It Might As Well Be Swing. Sinatra performed the song accompanied by Count Basie. This version was played on the Apollo 10 mission to orbit the Moon. In 1969 it became the first song to ever play on the Moon, when astronaut Buzz Aldrin took a cassette recording of it on the Apollo 11 mission an played it after stepping onto the surface.

Diana Krall performed the song during the 40th anniversary commemoration ceremony of the mission to the Moon. She also performed it in the 2012 national memorial service for Apollo 11 commander Neil Armstrong.

There have been hundreds of interpretations of this song, and it continues to appear in popular culture, from television shows like I Dream of Jeannie and Sesame Street—in which Tony Bennett performed a parody the tune while Slimy the Worm traveled to the moon—to films like Wall Street (1987) and Bridget Jones’ Diary (2001).  

In 1999, “Fly Me to the Moon” received the Songwriters Hall of Fame Towering Song Award, which is given to compositions that have had an impact on popular culture throughout several generations. 

There are only about 30 recordings of the song with its original title of In Other Words, yet there are more than 500 recordings of it as by Fly Me To The Moon, many of which contain In Other Words in parenthesis.

Tune in today as we celebrate Jazz Appreciation Month with some of this compositions most notable covers!

Copyright 2019 KUVO . To see more, visit KUVO .

Become a Member

Join the growing family of people who believe that music is essential to our community. Your donation supports the work we do, the programs you count on, and the events you enjoy.

Download the App

Download KUVO's FREE app today! The KUVO Public Radio App allows you to take KUVO's music and news with you anywhere, anytime!