It's Only a Paper Moon

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1933 recording by Paul Whiteman on Victor featuring Bunny Berigan on trumpet and Peggy Healy on vocals

"It's Only a Paper Moon" is a popular song published in 1933, with music by Harold Arlen and lyrics by Yip Harburg and Billy Rose.[1] It was originally titled “If You Believed in Me,” but later went by the more popular title “It’s Only a Paper Moon.”[2] The song was written for an unsuccessful Broadway play called The Great Magoo, set in Coney Island.[3] it was subsequently used in the movie Take a Chance in 1933 when it was sung by June Knight and Charles "Buddy" Rogers. Paul Whiteman recorded a successful hit version (with a vocal by Peggy Healy) released in 1933 featuring Bunny Berigan on trumpet. Another popular recording in 1933 was by Cliff Edwards.[4]

Its lasting fame stems from recordings by popular artists during the last years of World War II, when versions by Ella Fitzgerald, Benny Goodman (vocal by Dottie Reid)[5] and the Nat King Cole Trio became popular. It has endured as a vehicle for improvisation by many jazz musicians. The song was featured in the 1945 film Too Young to Know[6] and the Paul Whiteman version was later heard in the 1973 film Paper Moon,[7] which takes its title from the song. The song was also employed in the 1974 television series Paper Moon, based on the film, which used the Arlen tune as its title song. The lyrics are also featured in the play "A Streetcar Named Desire" by Tennessee Williams.

Recorded versions[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m "It's Only a Paper Moon". 2005. Retrieved November 8, 2016. 
  2. ^ "Afterglow". Retrieved March 5, 2018. 
  3. ^ "Internet Broadway Database". Retrieved March 5, 2018. 
  4. ^ Whitburn, Joel (1986). Joel Whitburn's Pop Memories 1890-1954. Wisconsin, USA: Record Research Inc. p. 146. ISBN 0-89820-083-0. 
  5. ^ Whitburn, Joel (1986). Joel Whitburn's Pop Memories 1890-1954. Wisconsin, USA: Record Research Inc. p. 181. ISBN 0-89820-083-0. 
  6. ^ "Internet Movie Database". Retrieved March 6, 2018. 
  7. ^ "Internet Movie Database". Retrieved March 5, 2018. 
  8. ^ "Perry Como Discography". Retrieved March 6, 2018. 
  9. ^ "A Bing Crosby Discography". BING magazine. International Club Crosby. Retrieved March 6, 2018. 
  10. ^ "". Retrieved March 6, 2018. 
  11. ^ "The Online Discographical Project". Retrieved March 6, 2018. 
  12. ^ "". Retrieved March 6, 2018. 

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