to the moon
Let me play among the stars
Let me see what spring is like on
Jupiter and Mars.
Can you hear Frank Sinatra? His voice brings back memories. It’s mostly awkward memories of Junior High for me. Specifically of my participation in the jazz band at my school — I played the trumpet, but could never hit the high notes. One day we got the sheet music for “Fly Me to the Moon” and started rehearsing. I just want you to imagine a bunch of awkward 13 year olds feeling a little bit cooler, a little more suave, because we could “play” Frank Sinatra. Despite realizing this song didn’t make me any cooler, it stuck with me over the years as one of my favorites. Sometimes I hear Sinatra singing when I look up at the moon and I think back to those wonderful days in jazz band.
For the astronauts on the Apollo 10 lunar mission, this song probably brings back very different memories. Apollo 10 launched May 18, 1969, the second mission to orbit the moon. Before taking off, the crew received a mixed tape full of space-themed songs. Sinatra’s recording of “Fly Me to the Moon” was included on the tape, making it one of the first songs to be played in outer space. I’ve gotten some cool mixed tapes in my life, but they all pale in comparison.
Several months later, the Apollo 11 mission launched. On July 20, 1969 astronauts played music on the moon for the first time in history from inside a three-person space capsule. You can probably guess which song they chose for such an occasion.
I bet “Fly Me to the Moon” brings back memories of weightlessness and feelings of awe at seeing the craters of the moon so clearly. As the first two people to walk on the moon, Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin can think back to their feet touching the surface of the moon for the first time. They flew to the moon. They got to the play among the stars. Someday I hope Sinatra’s voice prepares a crew for a Mars landing. I suspect it’s lovely in the springtime.
- Audrey Buckland (originally published 2015/11/07)