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Tuesday, June 7, 2011

It's Only a Paper Moon

By Harold Arlen, E.Y. "Yip" Harburg & Billy Rose
1933

Initially written for the 1933 Broadway flop The Great Magoo, this Arlen/Harburg gem was included in the film Take a Chance later that same year. It also received its first recording courtesy of the Paul Whiteman orchestra. It didn't really pick up steam until the World War II years, when it became a standard thanks to versions by Ella Fitzgerald and Nat Cole. It has become a jazz improvisation favorite, and was notably included in Tennessee Williams' A Streetcar Named Desire. A light and airy tune with a lovely, whimsical lyric.

Lyrics:

It is only a paper moon
hanging over a cardboard sea,
But it wouldn't be make believe
If you believed in me.

It is only a canvas sky
sailing over a muslin tree,
But it wouldn't be make believe
If you believed in me.

Without your love,
It's a honky-tonk parade.
Without your love,
It's a melody played in a penny arcade.

It's a Barnum and Bailey world,
Just as phony as it can be,
But it wouldn't be make believe
If you believed in me.

Recorded By:

Frank Sinatra
Nat King Cole
Ella Fitzgerald
Tony Bennett
Coleman Hawkins

2 comments:

emma wallace said...

Oh, I ADORE this song! I haven't thought of it for a while and now I want to listen to it again! Thank you for reminding me!

I love John Pizzarelli's version too...

B-Sol said...

I'd love for you to record it, Emma--it suits you!

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