Lyrics:E. Y. Harburg ,Billy Rose Music:Harold Arlen
The song was publishe 1933.
It was written originally for an unsuccessful Broadway play called The Great Magoo, set in Coney Island. It was subsequently used in the movie Take a Chance, in 1933, and Paul Whiteman recorded a successful version, sung by Peggy Healey. But its lasting fame stems from recordings by popular artists during the last years of World War II, when versions by Ella Fitzgerald and the Nat King Cole Trio became popular. It has endured as a vehicle for improvisation by many jazz musicians.
It is 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 Hanging 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.
It was introduced by Martha O'Driscoll (dubbed by Margaret Whiting) in the 1942 film Youth on Parade.
It was recorded by Harry James and his Orchestra with Helen Forrest on vocal on July 31, 1942. This was the last day of recording before the Musician Union's ban. The recording was issued on Columbia 36668 and became a number one hit on both the pop and the Harlem Hit Parade in the USA in early 1943. This version of the song can be heard in Woody Allen's movie Hannah and Her Sisters.
It seems to me I've heard that song before It's from an old familiar score I know it well that melody
It's funny how a theme Recalls a favorite dream A dream that brought you so close to me
I know each word, Because I've heard that song before The lyrics said "for evermore" For evermore's a memory
Please have them play it again And I'll remember just when I heard that lovely song before