I doubt that Fly Me to the Moon is a tune you would associate with Christmas, but there are two things that make it a holiday treat in our family.
Originally written and recorded in 1954, it would take on a whole new life ten years later when Frank Sinatra recorded Quincy Jones’ arrangement of the song accompanied by Count Basie. That version of the song was played by the Apollo 10 astronauts as they orbited the moon and Buzz Aldrin played it on the moon during Apollo 11. More recently it was played during the memorial service for Neil Armstrong in September. This last weekend we celebrated the 40th anniversary of the last man to set foot on the moon and Fox News aired an outstanding special aptly titled “Fly Me to the Moon”.
As a child of the space program I grew up just 100 miles north of the Cape. We watched Alan Sheppard launch into space from the school yard and sat mesmerized on the beach with a crowd of friends to watch Apollo 11 lift off. The thrill of watching a launch continued through the Shuttle program and now I’m watching with fascination as the entrepreneurs add new insights on what’s ahead in space exploration. And, through it all, Fly Me to the Moon is the tune associated with all those memories.
So, how did this song get it’s status as a Christmas standard at our house? That happened in 2005 when Frank arrived for Christmas. No, not Frank Sinatra but Frank Moose. Our generation has begun a rather strange tradition of unloading some kind of tacky, animated critter – preferably one that sings – on each other at Christmas. Naturally, there are any number of novelty companies more than happy to help keep this tradition alive. Decorations at our house include Mr. Frog, who’s been around so long his voice has finally given out, and the gorilla with the Santa hat that sings Elvis (no Christmas is complete without Elvis). Frank the Moose is a lounge act that sings – you guessed it – Fly Me to the Moon. At the end of the song, he wishes everyone a Merry Christmas. Frank – and this song – are now a treasured part of our Christmas season.
Here’s an early video of Frank in action. It’s so old I couldn’t open the original iMovie project to try and clean it up a bit. Frank didn’t have top billing in those early days, but this year he’s performing at his favorite location – on top of the bar.