Over The Rainbow

Album: The Wizard Of Oz Soundtrack (1939)
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  • Written for the movie The Wizard Of Oz, "Over The Rainbow" appears 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, with lyrics by Yip Harburg. They were asked to write the song because they had a number of previous hits, including "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. During his 2001 world tour, Eric Clapton was known to play an acoustic blues version.
  • 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.
  • "Over The Rainbow" was almost cut from the movie. Some executives from MGM thought the film was too long and wanted it 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 six 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 Best Song and Best Score, which was written by Herbert Stothart.
  • "Over The Rainbow" is a classic "I Want" song, sung by the main character early in a musical to establish her desires and motivation. We learn that Dorothy seeks adventure and wants to see what the world is like outside of Kansas. Disney movies are filled with these; a good example is "I Just Can't Wait To Be King" from The Lion King.
  • The movie was bought with the intentions of having Judy Garland play Dorothy, but executives considered switching it to Shirley Temple - a bigger box office draw - after Garland was already given the role. That plan was abandoned because Temple was under contract to 20th Century Fox, and because she would have had a hard time hitting the notes to the songs.
  • In a 2001 poll conducted by the Recording Industry Association Of America and the National Endowment for the Arts, "Over The Rainbow" was voted the #1 song of all time, beating out "White Christmas," which came in at #2. The RIAA has it #1 on their list of the "Songs of the Century" because of its historical significance.
  • Judy Garland was just 16 when she recorded this song and 17 when The Wizard of Oz opened in theaters, but she was already a seasoned pro with six films to her credit and five singles. She was one of the biggest stars of the 1940s, and in 1954 starred in the original version of A Star Is Born, where she sang "The Man That Got Away," also co-written by Harold Arlen (with Ira Gershwin). "Over The Rainbow" remained her most popular song, and she sang it throughout her career.

    Garland was given diet pills at a young age and became dependent on barbiturates and alcohol, which led to her death in 1969 at 47.
  • Tori Amos covers this at many of her concerts and did a version on her 1996 MTV Unplugged concert. >>
    Suggestion credit:
    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.
  • The Hawaiian ukulele musician Israel Kamakawiwo'ole recorded "Over The Rainbow" 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 obese, weighing about 750 pounds at one point; he died from respiratory illness connected with his weight. His coffin rests in the capital building in Honolulu, the only non-politician of only three 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. >>
    Suggestion credit:
    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." >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Bob - Fort Phanton Hill, TX
  • Surprisingly, Judy Garland's original version has never found its way to 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 tribute to Judy Garland, who was honored at the ceremony.
  • Some versions include the original introductory verse that was not included in the film:

    When all the world is a hopeless jumble
    And the raindrops tumble all around
    Heaven opens a magic lane

    When all the clouds darken up the skyway
    There's a rainbow highway to be found
    Leading from your windowpane

    To a place behind the sun
    Just a step beyond the rain

Comments: 40

  • Barry from Sauquoit, NyIn 1960 when Mohawk Records of New York City released the Demensions' covered version of "Over The Rainbow", on some of the 45s the name was 'The Demensions' and on others it was 'The Dimensions'...
  • Barry from Sauquoit, NyOn September 30, 1960, the Demensions performed "Over The Rainbow" on the Dick Clark ABC-TV weekday-afternoon program 'American Bandstand'...
    At the time "Over The Rainbow" was at #24 on Billboard's Top 100 chart, three weeks earlier it had peaked at #16 {for 1 week} and it spent 15 weeks on the Top 100...
    The Bronx group had one other Top 100 record, "My Foolish Heart", it peaked at #95 in 1963...
    As noted above "Over The Rainbow" won the 1939 Academy Award for 'Best Original Song' from the movie 'The Wizard of Oz'...
    Two other covered versions* have made the Top 100, in 2006 Katharine McPhee's version peaked at #12 {for 2 weeks} and Nicholas David's version reached #96 {for 1 week} in 2012...
    And on Billboard's Hot Country Singles chart, Jerry Lee Lewis took his covered version to #10 in 1980...
    * Ms. McPhee and Mr. David's versions were released as "Somewhere Over The Rainbow".
  • Jennifur Sun from RamonaMy fav song in the whole world. Always reminds me of my late dad who used to sing this to me when I was a kid.
  • Ziggy from MexicoThis is going to be longwinded, so hold on...
    My father grew up with Judy Garland and Mickey Rooney on the beach in Los Angeles. He came to know them as the studio would bring the child stars down to the beach for sun and my Dad was hanging out there. He was a musician by nature and Mickey asked him to do some stuff with Judy. They used to be great friends.
    My father was old, I had become a surf traveller, and ended up on the North Shore of Hawaii on Oahu in 1989. I stayed at Foo's BackPackers. I was something of a good guy, and Cheryl -Mark Foo's sister- asked me to stay on, as the camp was too rowdy, and my room always stayed in control. I was a good influence on the rest of the camp. She saw it.
    One night, which was the weekly night she rounded up the help, and the one's who wanted to go, the BackPackers would head to this out of the way shanty , and it would be Karaoki night. The North Shore was a surfers hangout, and we thanked the organization of this night to get out and have fun. I was asked, no, forced to go. The Australians, Hawaiians, Californians, and Cheryl were determined to put me on the spot. It was time to make me sing. Cheryl said she knew the DJ and would make sure I got some songs to sing.
    The book of songs came to Cheryl and she said she would sing with me, and i looked thru it, and picked Somewhere Over the Rainbow. This shocked the crowd. No one sang an old tune like that, but we were all with beers and rums, so it was thought to be a good idea to watch Ziggy spill his guts on this. I picked the song because my father used to hang with Judy, and because from experience, I knew my voice could start a song, but never get thru it. I had a very limited range. But I had a secret octave.
    When the crowd hooted to put it on the screen, I turned to look who was on the turntable as host DJ. I saw a smiling, very Hawaiian, very full face from the back of the room nod yes, he had it, and would play it. I turned back around in my seat to the microphone and the huddle with Cheryl.
    The music started, and I layed into it. From the noisy room, came a sort of quiet. Heavy duty surfers never listened to stuff like this!! What's up?
    But before I could get thru the first verse, the room started hooting and cheering! Cheryl joined in. When the song rose in depth, she dropped out and off. Then, I had to finish. I started to use an old ploy I used, by varying the harmonic tones in the chord to accompany the words. It works, and it is used as such- you sing in a note which makes up the three notes of a major chord, if and when you cant hit the actual song note.
    When the song was over, I got a huge round of applause and the evening went on. Being there, I remembered how I had done it.
    I continued to live in Hawaii for 5 years, and Brother IZ came out with Somewhere Over the Rainbow. Now, the official 'guy' there when he recorded it in the 3 a.m night for Israel says it was 1988. Ok, maybe it was, (if so why wasn't it famous on Hawaiian radio then?) but the guy who looked me in the eyes and nodded he had it in the music book that night, I'm pretty sure Cheryl said it was Israel, Brother IZ, and so,,,did my version catch his ear that night. Because when i heard it on the radio, it sounded exactly the way i sing it, sang it dropped notes and substituted others. I only wanted to relate this in case maybe it was true, because every time I hear IZ sing it I can hear my own notes. not trying to take claim, just saying, I might have influenced the guy who made this song more famous than it ever was before. In that case, knowing IZ liked the sound and did it that way, makes me feel happy. His version is gold. I bet Judy would smile down from above along with Mickey, and my Dad Kenny. And if IZ was there with us that night doing karaoke, he would be smiling to remember the night I belted it out.
    Just saying...
  • Roy from SloughEva Cassidy did the best version of this song. I can't believe you haven't covered it in more detail. If you want to see a grown man cry play me Eva's version.
  • Barry from Sauquoit, NyAs stated above; on March 7th 2001, the Recording Industry of America & the National Endowment for the Arts announced that "Over the Rainbow” by Judy Garland was the '#1 Song of the Century'...
    FYI here's the rest of the Top 10:
    #2. "White Christmas" by Bing Crosby
    #3. "This Land Is Your Land" by Woody Guthrie
    #4. "Respect" by Aretha Franklin
    #5. "American Pie" by Don McLean
    #6. "Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy" by the Andrews Sisters
    #7 "West Side Story" (album) by the original cast
    #8. "Take Me Out To The Ball Game" by Billy Murray
    #9. "You've Lost That Lovin' Feelin'" by The Righteous Brothers*
    #10. "The Entertainer" by Scott Joplin

    Great song, but kind of a surprise!
  • Barry from Sauquoit, NyOn January 5th 1975, 'The Wiz' premiered at the Majestic Theatre on Broadway in New York City...
    The song "Ease On Down the Road" was featured in the play; and two versions of the song made Billboard's Hot Top 100 chart, Consumer Rapport's version peaked at #42 in 1975 and three years later in 1978 Diana Ross & Michael Jackson's version from the movie reached #41...
    Stephanie Mills, who played Dorothy on Broadway, had a Top 10 record in 1980, "Never Know Love Like This Before"; it reached #6 {for 2 weeks} on November 9th, 1980.
  • Barry from Sauquoit, NyOn August 12th 1939, the M-G-M movie "The Wizard of Oz" had its world premiere at the Strand Theater in *Oconomowoc, Wisconsin...Three days later on August 15th it had its Hollywood premier and then two days its East coast premiere in New York City...The film opened in theaters across the U.S.A. on August 25th, 1939...*Oconomowoc, Wisconsin was the home town of Meinhardt Raabe, who played one of the Munchkins in the movie.
  • Mary from Florissant, MoJust thought of it "Tempted" beautiful arrangement of Over the Rainbow in that movie
  • Mary from Florissant, MoI 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.
  • Sara from Silver Spring, MdThis should go in "songs significant in the gay community" category. It has become a gay anthem but of course can aplly to anybody.
  • Steve Dotstar from Los Angeles, Caperhaps the best ballad ever written...certainly one of the very best, anyway!
    Judy's rendition is emotional and heart rendering!
  • Sara from Silver Spring, MdThis is Judy Garland's signature song. Period.
  • Jezebel from Lincoln, MoI 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....
  • Joey from Corpus Christi, TxI 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.
  • Joe from Perth, Australiarespected critics label this the greatest song of all time even better than white christmas and my way
  • Crystal from Dayton, Ohsome were over the rainbow is my fave song and i just adore judy garlands amaizing vioce she is the best
  • Steve from Torrance, CaJazz 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".
  • Rich from Elkins, WvWhen you look at the lyrics, it's just a few short lines...The planets were all in alignment for this tune....Song History.
  • Steve from Torrance, CaOn 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".
  • Stefanie from Rock Hill, ScEva 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.
  • Jaytee from Austin, TxMy 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.
  • Nora from Philadelphia, PaOne 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.
  • Luis from Cagua (venezuela), South Americathe bests songs are that the spoke of the people´s soul
  • Jen from Westville, NjSky Captain and the World of Tomorrow whould have been better in black and white
  • Dana from Biloxi, MsWhen done right,and that is for each individual to decide,a very beautiful song. "Sky Captain" the greatest movie!?? You are joking.....right?
  • Steve from Torrance, CaA 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!
  • Robert from London, EnglandBeautiful song. I love it....and Ms. Garland's voice....exquisite!
  • James from Wyandotte, MiBlues goddess, Sarah Vaughn, did an unbelievable cover of this in 1939
  • Stefanie Magura from Rock Hill, ScYeah. 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.
  • Katie B. from Chicago, IlDoes 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.
  • Nicole from Apple Valley, MnRay Charles and Johnny Mathis recorded this song on Charles' "Genuis Loves Company" (2004).
  • Nicole from Apple Valley, MnIt 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".
  • Keith from Slc, UtUh . . .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.

  • Helen from Dublin, IrelandWhat? No mention of Eva Cassidy? She owns this song! Every other version have just faded into insignificance since she completely transformed it.
  • Dave from Pomeroy, OhEric Clapton performed this in concert in 2001 dedicated to his then girlfriend (now wife) as the last song in the concert
  • Tiffany from Dover, FlMy 61-note keyboard has this song in its songlist!
  • David from Gosford, AustraliaBilly 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).
  • Patrick from Wahiawa, HiThere 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.
  • Erik from Davis, CaA 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.
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