Mark Steyn writes:
After the Sinatra recording, [Howard] retired on the song, and dabbled in interior decorating for most of the rest of his life: a modest, dapper man who’d written a tune about not flying to the moon that somehow wound up there. Had any other nation beaten Nasa to it, they’d have marked the occasion with the “Ode To Joy” or Also Sprach Zarathustra, something grand and formal. But there’s something very American about Buzz Aldrin standing on the surface of the moon with his cassette machine: Sinatra “cocksure” in 4/4, with Count Basie and Quincy Jones. The sound of the American century as it broke the bounds of the planet: a Bart Howard song finally playing among the stars.
More at Jazz Backstory:
The first 16 bars of “Fly Me to the Moon” are exquisitely simple, and Sinatra can be partly credited for this. I recently heard an interview with Quincy Jones and radio host Gian Ghomeshi. Gian wisely brought up the subject of “Fly Me to the Moon” and Q (as Frank called Quincy) stated that the first 16 bars were not what they ended up with — Sinatra said, “that’s a little dense, Q” and adjustments were made. What we get is basically a jazz combo anchored by Freddie Green’s ever-steady strumming on the guitar, some tasty flute from Frank Wess, and a relaxed and swinging Sinatra. The saxes eventually sneak in and echo the notes of “in other words.” You’ll notice throughout that Sinatra, unlike many singers who love the sound of their voice, does not extend his words at the ends of phrases, but cuts them off, leaving space for the band to be heard. If you have the best band in the land behind you, it’s an obvious choice.