Is the standard ‘Fly Me to the Moon’ a lost gay love song?

Fly Me to the Moon is one of the classics, a song that’s been recorded on hundreds of occasions and by many of the most iconic performers of all time.

While Frank Sinatra’s version from 1964 is probably the best-known take of the song, it’s also been recorded by ABBA singer Agnetha Fältskog, Renee Geyer, Diana Krall, Rod Stweart, Sarah Vaughan, Judy Garland, Willie Nelson, Marvin Gaye and even dance merchants Groove Armada.

Now people are asking if the song is really a long-lost ode to gay love? On social media people are sharing the song, noting it might not be as heterosexual as previously thought.

The tune was written by Bart Howard in 1954, and he was gay. Howard lived with his partner Thomas Fowler for 58 years from 1946 until his death at the age of 88 in 2004.  It’s quite probable that when he wrote to song he was inspired by his own relationship with Fowler.

However, most of the people singing it were probably completely unaware of the songwriter’s personal life. While the song is presented as a gender-neutral ode to love, there is no hidden meaning in the fairly straight forward lyrics.

The song was originally called In Other Words and it was composed in a 3/4 timescale. The first recording was by Kaye Ballard, and many people laid down a version before Frank Sinatra began singing the tune. Johnny Mathis, Nancy Wilson, and Eydie Gormé all recorded the song under its original title and with its slower paced delivery.

When Peggy Lee found success with the song in 1960, she convinced Howard to officially change the name to Fly Me to The Moon. In 1964 Sinatra laid down the tune as the opening track for his It Might as Well Be Swing record. The record saw him teaming up with Count Basie and his orchestra, and the songs for the album were arranged by Quincy Jones.

Jones reworked the song into a 4/4 timescale and transformed the song into a much more upbeat and proactive sounding delivery.  The song became synonymous with NASA”s Apolo missions to the moon, and the crew of Apollo 10 played the song on a cassette while they orbited the moon.

What’s your favourite version of Fly Me To the Moon? 

OIP Staff

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