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"Fly Me to the Moon" (originally titled ''In Other Words'') was introduced in 1954 by the cabaret singer Felicia Sanders at the chic New York Nightclub The Blue Angel where Bart Howard was host and became a hit after Peggy Lee sang it on ''The Ed Sullivan Show'' in October 1960, Kaye Ballard made the first recording and Joe Harnell recorded a bossa nova instrumental version in 1962. It was Lee who suggested to Howard that the title should be the memorable line from the
refrain, "Fly Me to the Moon."
Rosemary Clooney had recorded Howard's song "On the First Warm Day (in May)" in 1951, which was a big break for the young songwriter, but it was "Fly Me to the Moon" that interested most singers and really put him on the map. According to James Gavin in his book Intimate: Nights The Golden Age of New York Cabaret, Howard wrote "Fly Me to the Moon" "in response to his publisher's plea for a simpler song: why did he have to write such grandiloquent lyrics? 'In Other Words" talked about the verbosity of poets who 'use many words to say a simple thing'; 'hold my hand,' 'Kiss me.'"
The New York Times in it's obituary for Howard, quoted him from an interview in 1988 as saying about "Fly Me to the Moon, "''I've always said it took me 20 years to find out how to write a song in 20 minutes' . . . . The song just fell out of me. One publisher wanted me to change the lyric to 'take me to the moon.' Had I done that I don't know where I'd be today.''
Gavin also reports that Howard used his position at the Blue Angel to good advantage in promoting his songs including "Fly Me to the Moon" about which Howard recalled:
I used to keep copies of it at the Blue Angel. . . . I just kept throwing them out to people. In those days all the young singers were given record contracts to see if any of them surfaced, and they all did my song. They thought it was so chic (Gavin, p. 91).
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The Cafe Songbook
Record/Video Cabinet: Selected Recordings of
"Fly Me to the Moon"
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