It’s Only A Paper Moon

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PROFILE
Composer Harold Arlen
Lyricists E.Y. “Yip” Harburg, Billy Rose
Year Written 1933
About It’s Only A Paper Moon
Originally written for an unsuccessful play called The Great Magoo , this song was used in the 1933 movie Take a Chance. Paul Whiteman recorded it that year. There were two very fine recordings in the 1940s by Ella Fitzgerald and Nat King Cole, which sealed the popularity of the song. Since that time, it has been a popular and jazz favorite that has been widely recorded.

Lyrics

It’s only a paper moon
Sailin’ over a cardboard sea
But it wouldn’t be make-believe
If you believed in me

Yes, it’s only a canvas sky
Hangin’ 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

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

Session / Album Information

1998

“It’s Only A Paper Moon” was recorded in June 1998 and released that same year on the album The Playground.

This recording released on:

  • 1998: Columbia CD: CK 69380 —The Playground
  • 2011: Disc #64 in The Tony Bennett Complete Collection (88697874602-JK62) The Playground

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