Song Story: Moonlight Serenade

Moonlight Serenade is an American swing ballad composed by Glenn Miller.

By the light of the silvery moon

The song evolved from a 1935 of a song titled “Now I Lay Me Down to Weep”.

The song was first released in May 1939 by the Glenn Miller orchestra an instrumental arrangement and became an immediate phenomenon.

Mitchell Parish would go on to write new lyrics for the music under the title Moonlight Serenade.

The tune became Miller’s signature tune.  He even used the tune on his CBS Radio series, Moonlight Serenade.

In 1965, Frank Sinatra recorded a version of the song.  The song is on Sinatra’s My Way: The Best of Frank Sinatra.

Moonlight Serenade has been covered numerous times by artists such as Barry Manilow, Carly Simon, Carol Burnett, John Williams, Ella Fitzgerald, Henry Jerome, Bobby Vinton and numerous others.

The ballad is also popular in many films including The Glenn Miller Story, Carnal Knowledge, Stardust Memories, The Aviator, Rumor Has It, Mr. Saturday Night and Rosie to name a few.

Jazz critic Gary Giddins wrote about the song’s impact and legacy; “Miller exuded little warmth on or off the bandstand, but once the band struck up its theme, audiences were done for: throats clutched, eyes softened. Can any other record match ‘Moonlight Serenade’ for its ability to induce a Pavlovian slobber in so many for so long?”

In 1991, Miller’s recording was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame.