It’s Only A Paper Moon

“It’s Only A Paper Moon” is probably my all time favorite song. The lyrics are so simple and yet there is so much “meaning” in the words. According to Wikipedia, it was written for a failed Broadway play in 1932. I’ve never bothered looking into the play because the only piece of pop culture of any significance that remains to this day from it is the song. It was written by Harold Arlen who also wrote “Over The Rainbow” and the song made popular by Frank Sinatra, “I’ve Got the World On A String”.

I love “Paper Moon” so much that I made a playlist of about 12 versions by many different artists over the last 87 years. My favorite version was sung by Nat King Cole in the late 1950s.

Here are the lyrics:

It is only a paper moon
Sailing 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

I love how this song mentions all kinds of fake things but, as the author states, “It wouldn’t be make-believe if you believe in me”.

It is interesting how many things in our society are really make believe but with enough people believing in them, they become real. Our system of government, our money, our institutions, our way of life, aspects of our jobs, the things we love, and the things we hate. Many of them really have very little meaning but we chose to make them real in order to live in society. We need these system to function as a people and because there are enough people who choose to believe in them, there are consequences for not playing along.

Many of the fictional stories that we connect with, when enough people connect with them, they can become real by inspiring many and sometimes provoking societal change. The characters, though fictional, can become even more real than you or I and they can live many centuries after their creators have passed away.

And many of our ideas and things we want to achieve can be meaningless without the people who love us and believe in us. Even without that belief, us loving our own ideas and taking a chance on ourselves will bring those ideas to life. Right now our ideas are only dreams and no more real than anything else. Once these ideas are brought to life, they can inspire many and they can influence others to do the same. The things we create today can cause a ripple effect to future generations.

Thank you to all the people in my life that love me and support me. It helps make this phony world very real to me.

Updated on: November 30th, 2019

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