July 9, 2020

The story behind Fly me to the Moon

The story behind "Fly me to the moon".

"Fly me to the moon" was the first song Angelina performed on tv outside the Norway Got Talent-competition and it has been one of her signature songs ever since. She performed the song on the popular norwegian TV2 televisionshow "Senkveld" on March 21, 2014. This was just 2 weeks after her audition for Norway Got Talent was broadcastet and went viral, and before her second appearance on NGT.

Love at first sight.

The meeting between Angelina and “Fly me at the Moon” is said to have been special. Angelina’s teacher in primary school, herself a jazz singer, told about it in an interview in 2020:

Angelina was very interested in old school jazz and I was also into this, so I suggested many songs to her.

My favourite song as a child, was «Fly me to the Moon» When Angelina heard the song for the first time, it was Love at first sight. I do not know if it still is her favourite, but I will never forget that moment.”.

Performances

Throughout her career Angelina has performed "Fly me to the moon" on numerous occasions. One of her most notable performances took place on June 27, 2018, when she performed the song as a special request by the legendary producer Quincy Jones at the celebrations of his 85th birthday in the O2-Arena in London. Jones, who had rearranged the song for Count Basie and Frank Sinatra in 1963, making it the classic evergreen and jazz standard it still is, had especially requested for Angelina to open the starstudded birthdayshow with one of his most iconic songs: "Fly me to the moon".

When Angelina presented herself for the first time to large international tv-audiences, in the US (The View in 2014 and Little Big Shots in 2015) and Germany (Ein Herz für kinder 2014), it was by performing "Fly me to the moon".

Releases

Angelina has already released 2 of her own renditions of “Fly me to the Moon”.

On Nov. 27, 2017, the song was released as one of 6 songs on “Angelina Jordan - the EP”. In this version Angelina is accompanied by acoustic guitar only.

On June 15, 2018, Angelina released her first full album “It’s Magic” in cooperation with the Staff band of the Norwegian Armed Forces (Forsvarets Stabsmusikkorps) and “Fly me to the Moon” was also included in this album. This time Angelina is backed by a 42 instruments, professional military band in an arrangement by Lars Erik Gudin.

The song

"Fly me to the moon" was written in 1954 by the American composer and songwriter Bart Howard, but he wrote the song under a different title: "In Other Words". It was under this title the song was first introduced in several cabaret performances in New York, where Bart Howard worked as a pianist, and was later that year recorded for the first time by Kaye Ballard. Bart Howard told later that it had taken him about 20 minutes to write the song: “I needed 20 years to learn to write a good song in just 20 minutes. This song just fell out of me”. His publisher thought that the first sentence of the song should be changed to “Take me to the Moon”, but Howard refused.

Lyrics

Fly me to the moon
Let me play among the stars
Let me see what spring is like on Jupiter and Mars
In other words, hold my hand
In other words, baby, kiss me

Fill my heart with song and let me sing for ever more
You are all I long for
All I worship and adore
In other words, please be true
In other words, I love you

Fill my heart with…

 

Over the next few years “In Other Words” was recorded by many artists. Bart Howard, who has been able to “live off” this song for the rest of his life, later estimated that the song had been recorded by at least 100 different artists prior to the famous recordings by Frank Sinatra. Amongst others, Joe Harnell recorded an instrumental version in 1962 in a bossa nova style. This instrumental version reached #14 om Billboard’s Middle of the road Singles chart in 1963 and was later that year rewarded with a Grammy for Best performance by an orchestra – for Dancing.

Another who recorded “In other Words” was Peggy Lee, who included the song in her album “Pretty Eyes” in 1960. The song got a much wider audience and popularity when Peggy Lee performed it on The Ed Sullivan Show, reaching a large television audience. But people did not remember the title of the song “In other Words”. Instead the song became known by its first line: “Fly me to the Moon”. In 1963 Peggy Lee finally managed to persuade Bart Howard to change the song’s name officially into “Fly me to the moon”. The rest is history, as they say….

The song Bart Howard wrote was quite different from the version we all know, and on which Angelina has based her renditions and performances. Not only did the song have another title, but also the rhythm and “feel” of the song were very different. It was written as a kind of ballad in a 3/4 beat, giving the song a more slowdance/waltz character.

1964 Quincy Jones, Frank Sinatra and Count Basie.

The man most people will think of hearing “FIy me to the moon”, is without a doubt Frank Sinatra. Sinatra included the song as the opening song in his album “It might as Well Be Swing”, released in 1964, accompanied by Count Basie and his orchestra. The music for the album was arranged by Quincy Jones, the start of a lifelong collaboration between these two legends of popular music.

Quincy Jones had rearranged “Fly me to the Moon (In Other Words)” a year earlier for Count Basie’s record “This time by Basie” changing the rhythm of the song to a regular 4/4 swingbeat. But as American music critic Will Friedwald wrote in his book on Frank Sinatra:

"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.”

Angelina’s renditions of “Fly me to the Moon” are based on this Jones/Sinatra arrangement from 1964. The arrangement includes all the elements we know so well: the walking baseline which “pushes” the song further right from the start, the rhythm of the melody and words on top, and the instrumental 3th verse with strong accents (by horns in the Jones/Basie/Sinatra version and in Angelina/Gudim’s version on “It’s Magic”), leading up to the 4th verse which repeats the text from the 2nd verse and has a build-up by the singer, repeating  the original title ”In other Words”, before the song ends with a playful “I love……….you”.

“The Voice” performed “Fly me to the Moon” throughout his whole career and it became one of his best known songs. The album “It might as Well Be Swing” peaked at #13 on the Billboard 200 chart for 1964 and sold to platinum in several countries. Sinatra never released the song as a single.

To the moon and back

“Fly me to the moon” was actually on the moon. When the Apollo 11-mission in 1969 landed on the moon, it is said that astronaut Buzz Aldrin played “Fly me to the moon” as the first song ever played on the surface of the moon. He had the recording by Frank Sinatra with him on a cassette. Earlier the same year the song was also played onboard Apollo 10 when orbiting the moon, the last rehearsal for the Apollo 11-mission. In 2012, at the funeral service for Neil Armstrong, the commander of Apollo 11 and first human to set foot on the moon, “Fly me to the moon” was performed by Dianna Krall.

Hall of Fame.

In 1999, "Fly Me to the Moon" was included in the Songwriters Hall of Fame as a "Towering Song", stating it as “one of the songs that has influenced our culture in a unique way over many years”.

More than 400 different recordings

It is reckoned that “Fly me to the moon” has been officially recorded by more than 400 different artists. Many more are publishing their takes on the song on services like You Tube and TikTok. New artists are adding themselves to the list every year, Angelina being one of them. Here are just a few examples. Enjoy!

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