The Story Behind the Song

The story behind the classic song “Blue Moon” is a long and twisted one.

In 1933, composers Rodgers and Hart were contracted by MGM to score “the screwball comedy to end all screwball comedies,” a film called “The Hollywood Party.” Bombshell sex symbol Jean Harlow was supposed to have played an innocent young girl singing her prayers (“Oh Lord, if you’re not busy up there,/ I ask for help with a prayer…”) but the scene was never shot.

A year later, the tune was renamed “It’s Just That Kind Of Play,” given new lyrics and added to the 1934 Clark Gable film “Manhattan Melodrama,” the film that gangster John Dillinger saw moments before being gunned down near the Biograph Theater in Chicago. Even though the song made it to the final cut of the film, it was registered for a copyright as an unpublished work.

The studio also wanted a nightclub version of the song so it was re-named “The Bad in Every Man” and given a third set of lyrics. Still, it did not catch on.

Music publisher Jack Robbins convinced Rodgers and Hart to change the lyrics a fourth time, to something more commercial. Despite the team’s chagrin, that’s when they came up with “Blue Moon” and it was made into a hit by Columbia Records’ Connie Boswell in 1935.

The rest, of course, is history. “Blue Moon” has been recorded by countless artists in countless styles, including The Marcels, Louis Armstrong, Frank Sinatra, Bob Dylan and many more. (to Linda and Meryl)

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