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Over The Rainbow

by

Judy Garland



Songfacts®:  You can leave comments about the song at the bottom of the page.

Written for the movie The Wizard Of Oz, this song was used early in the film when Dorothy (played by Judy Garland) longs to escape her dreary life on the farm in Kansas. A deeper interpretation can have Dorothy longing for heaven.
The music was written by Harold Arlen, The lyrics by Yip Harburg. They were asked to write this based on their previous hits, "It's Only A Paper Moon," "Brother, Can You Spare A Dime," and "Lydia The Tattooed Lady."
Arlen came up with the melody while sitting in his car in front of the original Schwab's Drug Store in Hollywood. Harburg hated it at first because he thought it was too slow. After Arlen consulted with Ira Gershwin, he sped up the tempo and Harburg came up with the words.
The original title was "Over the Rainbow is where I want to be."
A lot of effort went into the first line. Ideas that didn't make the cut included "I'll go over the rainbow" and "Someday over the rainbow."
Some of the artists who recorded this include Glenn Miller, Bob Crosby, and Larry Clinton. (thanks, Steve - Torrance, CA, for above 4)
The lyrics have a political significance. Harburg was expressing hope for America under president Franklin Roosevelt's "New Deal" program, which was designed to get America out of the Great Depression in the early '30s.
This was almost cut from the movie. Some executives from MGM thought the film was too long and wanted this removed. They thought it slowed down the action too early in the movie.
This won an Oscar in 1939 for Best Original Song. Garland was urged to sing it when she accepted the award. She did, but had a hard time getting through it because she was so excited.
The film was nominated for 6 Oscars, but had the misfortune of being released the same year as Gone With The Wind, which won Best Picture. The Wizard Of Oz won only for this and Best Score, which was written by Herbert Stothart.
The movie was bought with the intentions of having Judy Garland play Dorothy, but then executives switched it to Shirley Temple after Judy was already given the role. Fox would not release Shirley Temple from her contract nor could she hit the notes to the songs.
In a 2001 poll conducted by the Recording Industry Association Of America and the National Endowment for the Arts, this was voted the #1 song of all time. The RIAA has it #1 on their list of the "Songs of the Century," because of its historical significance.
During his 2001 world tour, Eric Clapton was known to play an acoustic blues version of this.
Tori Amos covers this at many of her concerts and did a version on her 1996 MTV Unplugged concert. (thanks, Kristy - La Porte City, IA)
Liza Minnelli, who is Garland's daughter, sang some of this to Michael Jackson at his 2001 tribute special.
Harry Connick Jr. sang this at the closing ceremonies of the 2002 winter Olympics in Salt Lake City. Dorothy Hamill skated while he sang.
Hawaiian ukulele musician Israel Kamakawiwo'ole recorded this in a medley with "What A Wonderful World" for his 1993 album Facing Forward. This version was used in the films Finding Forrester, Meet Joe Black, and 50 First Dates, as well as on the television show ER. Kamakawiwo'ole, more often known as IZ, was very obese, weighing about 750 pounds at one point, and he died from respiratory illness connected with his weight. His coffin rests in the capital building in Honolulu, the only non-politician of only 3 people to be honored like this. The Hawaiian state flag flew at half mast on the day of his funeral and thousands of fans came to see his ashes scattered into the ocean. (thanks, Koz - Chelsea, MI and Evan - Newport Beach, CA)
This song was used in an episode of the TV series Scrubs, where it was performed by Ted's band "The Worthless Peons." The "Worthless Peons" are played by the real life band "The Blanks." (thanks, Bob - Fort Phanton Hill, TX)
In 2001, the National Endowment for the Arts named this the top song of the 20th century, beating out "White Christmas," which came in at #2. (thanks, Bertrand - Paris, France)
Surprisingly, Judy Garland's original version has never featured on the singles chart. Two subsequent renditions of the song did make the Hot 100. Former American Idol finalist Katharine McPhee peaked at #12 with her interpretation of the song in 2006 and in 2012 The Voice contestant Nicholas David, reached #96 after performing the song on the singing contest. Both versions went under the title of "Somewhere Over the Rainbow."
Pink performed this song at the Oscars in 2014 in honor of Judy Garland, who was honored at the ceremony.
Judy Garland
More Judy Garland songs
More songs with weather conditions in the title
More songs with political statements
More songs about desire or longing
More songs that won Oscars
More songs used in movies
More songs significant in the gay community
More songs played at funerals

Comments (32):

Just thought of it "Tempted" beautiful arrangement of Over the Rainbow in that movie
- Mary, florissant, MO
I loved the Hawaiian version of Over the Rainbow that was played in a TV movie about a woman spreading the ashes of the woman who raised her. She went to Hawaii to do this and found her biological mother and learned her 'nanny' was really her aunt. Lainie Kazan played the mother, but I can't remember the name of the movie.
- Mary, florissant, MO
This should go in "songs significant in the gay community" category. It has become a gay anthem but of course can aplly to anybody.
- Sara, Silver Spring, MD
perhaps the best ballad ever written...certainly one of the very best, anyway!
Judy's rendition is emotional and heart rendering!
- steve dotstar, los angeles, CA
This is Judy Garland's signature song. Period.
- Sara, Silver Spring, MD
I still agree with Helen way down belowwwww.......Eva Cassidy pretty much eradicates Judy Garland(who don't get me wrong is a extradoinary singer).

Eva Cassidy would've been one of the greatest herself if she had lived....
- Jezebel, Lincoln, MO
I was really amused by Me First and the Gimme Gimmes quicker cover of this, especially when it was used as the opening music to the HBO show "Taxicab Confessions", because it shows the grittyness of big cities while playing upbeat music.
- Joey, Corpus Christi, TX
respected critics label this the greatest song of all time even better than white christmas and my way
- joe, perth, Australia
some were over the rainbow is my fave song and i just adore judy garlands amaizing vioce she is the best
- crystal, dayton, OH
Jazz pianist Keith Jarrett has performed an instrumental version of this song as an encore after his improvised piano concerts. A recording of this can be found on his 1997 ECM album, "La Scala".
- Steve, Torrance, CA
When you look at the lyrics, it's just a few short lines...The planets were all in alignment for this tune....Song History.
- rich, elkins, WV
On his first (1981) solo album, "Face Value", Phil Collins sings the first four lines of this song after the final song has faded out. He changes the lyrics from "There's a land that I heard of" to "There's a land that I dreamed of".
- Steve, Torrance, CA
Eva Cassidy was a great singer. I have never heard her version, but I would think that for most people it's hard not to think of Judy Garland when hearing this song.
- Stefanie, Rock Hill, SC
My problem with Eva Cassidy's version of the song is that she changed the lyrics; aargh. So did Doris Day. If there's any song whose lyrics should not be changed, I'd say it's this one.

I enjoy hearing singers sing this song, but I always think of Judy Garland in the movie when they do, whereas when Garland sings it in the movie, I think of no one else.
- JayTee, Austin, TX
One of my favorite versions of this song is by Patti LaBelle. She takes it into dramatic histrionics worthy of Judy Garland herself . . . in concert, Patti often throws down the microphone and belts this out over the band with no amplification.
- Nora, Philadelphia, PA
the bests songs are that the spoke of the peopleĀ“s soul
- LUIS, CAGUA (VENEZUELA), South America
Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow whould have been better in black and white
- jen, westville, NJ
When done right,and that is for each individual to decide,a very beautiful song. "Sky Captain" the greatest movie!?? You are joking.....right?
- Dana, Biloxi, MS
A fabulous version of this song, sung by Jane Monheit and orchestrated by Edward Shearmur, appears at the end of the 2004 movie, "Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow". A tribute to both "The Wizard of Oz" and films from the 1930s and 1940s, "Sky Captain" is the greatest movie ever made!
- Steve, Torrance, CA
Beautiful song. I love it....and Ms. Garland's voice....exquisite!
- Robert, London, England
Blues goddess, Sarah Vaughn, did an unbelievable cover of this in 1939
- james, wyandotte, MI
Yeah. I'm sure Eva cassity's version was great. I haven't heard it though. Ellen if you want it mensioned in the song facts that she covered it, there is a link where you can add song facts.
- Stefanie magura, Rock Hill, SC
Does anyone know who sang the version of this song in "50 first dates" at the very very end of the movie. It was like a hawaiian version. If anyone knows, email me at comfortablynumb710@yahoo.com. I would sooo appreciate it.
- Katie B., Chicago, IL
Ray Charles and Johnny Mathis recorded this song on Charles' "Genuis Loves Company" (2004).
- Nicole, Apple Valley, MN
It should be noted that the version by the Late-Hawaiian musician Israel Kamakawiwo'ole (mentioned by Erik, Davis, CA) is coupled with "What a Wonderful World." It's a fantastic song that is featured in the following motion pitcures: "Meet Joe Black" "Finding Forrester" and "50 First Dates".
- Nicole, Apple Valley, MN
Uh . . .no. She sings it as she is longing for escape from her dreary life on the farm, shortly after the movie opens, long before the tornado which takes her to Oz. The transition to color doesn't take place until she opens the door in Munchkinland, which she does in complete silence.
- Keith, SLC, UT
What? No mention of Eva Cassidy? She owns this song! Every other version have just faded into insignificance since she completely transformed it.
- Helen, Dublin, Ireland
Eric Clapton performed this in concert in 2001 dedicated to his then girlfriend (now wife) as the last song in the concert
- Dave, Pomeroy, OH
My 61-note keyboard has this song in its songlist!
- Tiffany, Dover, FL
Billy Thorpe and the Aztecs recorded a version in 1964 that went to number 1 that year. At over four minutes it was the longest single ever produced in Australia at the time.

After Thorpy changed his image from clean-cut to long haired rocker in the late 60's-early 70's he threw in a version of this at their performance at the 1973 Sunbury festival. The 30,000+ strong hippy crowd went nuts (as can be heard on their 1994 boxed set).
- David, Gosford, Australia
There is a Punk version by Me First and the Gimme Gimmes on the 1999 "Are A Drag" release. I heard it used as the theme for TLC's "Rocket" miniseries on model rocketeers. (Or was that on the Discovery Channel?) The stratospheric and ground-hugging vehicles of fast propulsion were a blast! Best all around Rocket Scientists? The HillBilly Rocketeers.
- Patrick, Wahiawa, HI
A ukelele-accompanied version of this was played by the Late-Hawaiian musician Israel Kamakawiwo'ole. It was played in the NBC hit show "ER" as a doctor died in the show.
- Erik, Davis, CA
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