Over the Rainbow
"Over the Rainbow" is a ballad, with music by Harold Arlen and lyrics by Yip Harburg. It was written for the movie The Wizard of Oz and was sung by actress Judy Garland, in her starring role as Dorothy Gale. It won the Academy Award for Best Original Song and became Garland's signature song, as well as one of the most enduring standards of the 20th century.
|"Over the Rainbow"|
|Song by Judy Garland|
About five minutes into the film, Dorothy sings the song after failing to get Aunt Em, Uncle Henry, and the farmhands to listen to her relate an unpleasant incident involving her dog, Toto, and the town spinster, Miss Gulch (Margaret Hamilton). Aunt Em tells her to "find yourself a place where you won't get into any trouble". This prompts her to walk off by herself, musing to Toto, "Some place where there isn't any trouble. Do you suppose there is such a place, Toto? There must be. It's not a place you can get to by a boat, or a train. It's far, far away. Behind the moon, beyond the rain...", at which point she begins singing.
Influence and legacyEdit
The song is number one on the "Songs of the Century" list compiled by the Recording Industry Association of America and the National Endowment for the Arts. The American Film Institute also ranked the song the greatest movie song of all time on the list of "AFI's 100 Years...100 Songs".
In March 2017, Garland's original rendition of the song was selected for preservation in the National Recording Registry by the Library of Congress as being "culturally, historically, or artistically significant".
The Wizard of OzEdit
The song's sequence and the entirety of the Kansas scenes were directed by King Vidor, though he was not credited. The song was initially deleted from the film after a preview in San Luis Obispo, because MGM chief executive Louis B. Mayer and producer Mervyn LeRoy thought it "slowed down the picture" and that "the song sounds like something for Jeanette MacDonald, not for a little girl singing in a barnyard". However, the persistence of associate producer Arthur Freed and Garland's vocal coach/mentor Roger Edens to keep it in the film eventually paid off - it is for this sequence that the film is best known and remembered.
At the start of the film, part of the song is played by the MGM orchestra over the opening credits. A reprise of it was deleted after being filmed. An additional chorus was to be sung by Dorothy while she was locked in the Witch's castle, helplessly awaiting death as the hourglass ran out. However, although the visual portion of that reprise is presumably lost, the soundtrack of it survives and was included in the 2-CD Deluxe Edition of the film's soundtrack, released by Rhino Entertainment in 1995. In that extremely intense and fear-filled rendition, Dorothy cries her way through it, unable to finish, concluding with a tear-filled, "I'm frightened, Auntie Em, I'm frightened!" This phrase was retained in the film and is followed immediately by Aunt Em's brief appearance in the crystal ball, where she is soon replaced by the visage of the witch (Hamilton), mocking and taunting Dorothy before turning toward the camera to cackle. Another instrumental version is played in the underscore in the final scene, and over the closing credits.
Original Garland recordingsEdit
A sample of the original version of "Over the Rainbow" from The Wizard of Oz, sung by Judy Garland.
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In March 1940, that same recording was included on a Decca 78-RPM four-record studio cast album entitled The Wizard of Oz. Although this is not the version of the song featured in the film, Decca would continue to re-release the so-called "Cast Album" well into the 1960s after it was re-issued as a single-record 331⁄3 RPM LP.
It was not until 1956, when MGM released the true soundtrack album from the film, that the film version of the song was made available to the public. The 1956 soundtrack release was timed to coincide with the television premiere of the film. The soundtrack version has been re-released several times over the years, including in a "Deluxe Edition" from Rhino Records in 1995.
Following the film's release in 1939, the song became Garland's signature song and she would perform it for the next 30 years, until her death in 1969. She performed it without altering it, singing exactly as she did for the film. She explained her fidelity by saying that she was staying true to the character of Dorothy and to the message of really being somewhere over the rainbow.
In 2017, Garland's recorded rendition of the film was selected for preservation in the National Recording Registry by the Library of Congress as being "culturally, historically, or artistically significant".
An introductory verse ("When all the world is a hopeless jumble…") that was not used in the film is often used in theatrical productions of The Wizard of Oz and is included in the piano sheet music book of songs from the film. It was also used in renditions by Frank Sinatra, by Al Bowlly, by Doris Day on her album Hooray For Hollywood (1958) (Vol.1), by Tony Bennett on his albums Tony Bennett Sings a String of Harold Arlen (1961) and Here's to the Ladies (1995), by Ella Fitzgerald, by Sarah Vaughan, and by Norma Waterson, among others. Garland herself sang the introductory verse only once, on a 1948 radio broadcast of The Louella Parsons Show. Lyrics for a second verse ("Once by a word only lightly spoken…") appear in the British edition of the sheet music.
The first German version in English language was recorded by the Swing Orchestra Heinz Wehner (1908–1945) in March 1940 in Berlin. Wehner, at this time a international well-known German Swing Artist, also took over the vocals. The first German version in German language was sung by Inge Brandenburg (1929–1999) in 1960.
In singles and albumsEdit
- Doo-wop group the Demensions charted the song to number 16 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1960.
- Patti LaBelle and the Bluebelles recorded the song in 1966 and it was featured on the Bluebelles' album of the same name, their first studio album with Atlantic Records.
- Australian band Billy Thorpe and the Aztecs' version topped the Australian music charts in 1965 and a later revision of the song also charted in 1974 following Billy Thorpe's blues-based revival of the song at the 1973 Sunbury Pop Festival.
- Matchbox reached number 15 on the UK singles chart in 1980 with the song – You Belong to Me (medley)".
- Patti LaBelle recorded a solo version of the song in a contemporary R&B/gospel-influenced version that was featured as the final song on LaBelle's 1981 album, The Spirit's in It.
- Sam Harris's winning version of the song on the first season of Star Search in 1983, combined on a single with "Hearts on Fire" reached number 67 in the UK singles chart in 1985. A music video was made for his version.
- American heavy metal band Impellitteri recorded an instrumental version of the song on their debut album, Stand in Line, in 1988.
- Marusha reached number 3 on the German singles charts in 1994 with her dance version.
- Cosmic Gate sampled this track for their single "Somewhere Over the Rainbow", which was released in 2000.
- Cliff Richard reached number 11 on the UK singles chart in 2001 with "Somewhere Over the Rainbow/What a Wonderful World".
- Katharine McPhee, an American Idol runner-up, covered the song in 2006. The single peaked at number 12 on the Billboard Hot 100.
- The Glee cast reached number 43 on the US singles chart and number 30 on the UK singles chart in 2010 with their version.
- Nicholas David, a contestant on the third season of the US version of The Voice, charted the song to number 96 in 2012, with sales of 48,000 copies. The Christian Hard Rock group David and the Giants sampled the song on their song "Noah" on their 1978 album This One's for You.
- Ariana Grande covered the song at the One Love Manchester benefit concert held on 4 June 2017 for the victims of the 2017 Manchester Arena bombing and added it to her Dangerous Woman Tour setlist after the benefit show.
- Hibari Misora released a Japanese language version of the song titled Niji no Kanata Ni (虹の彼方に).
- Allan Sherman sang a parody of it, called "Overweight People".
In films and TV showsEdit
- In the film Third Finger, Left Hand (1940) with Myrna Loy, Melvyn Douglas, and Raymond Walburn, the tune played throughout the film in short sequences.
- In the film The Philadelphia Story (1940), James Stewart sings the song while carrying Katharine Hepburn through the gardens, at 77 minutes.
- Two years after the release of The Wizard of Oz, the tune appeared throughout the film I Wake Up Screaming (1941), starring Betty Grable and Victor Mature.
- The song can also be heard in an ironic context in the Vincent Price horror film, Dr. Phibes Rises Again (1972).
- The Sam Harris version was featured in an episode of Beavis and Butt-head, in which Beavis reacts in horror to the music video while Butt-head turns up the volume just to humorously torture the former.
- A version sung by Olivia Newton-John is used in the 1997 movie Face/Off, directed by John Woo.
- Director Nora Ephron used two different versions of the song in her movies Sleepless in Seattle (1993) and You've Got Mail (1998). They're by Ray Charles and Harry Nilsson, but only Nilsson's is included on a soundtrack release of the films.
- Mariah Carey perfromed this song as a medley with “If I Only Knew” as a tribute to her godmother, Patti Labelle in the Essence Awards in 1998.
- Jane Monheit's version is used over the end credits of "Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow" (2004).
- A version of the song was featured in an episode of The Grim Adventures of Billy and Mandy, in which Mandy sings the song in a deadpan tone while she performs as Dorothy from The Wizard of Oz.
- In the film 9 (2009), the original song is played.
- The song was featured at the end of the Scrubs episode "My Way Home". The song was sung by the "Worthless Peons" (played by the Blanks) in a cappella format. The song was the final of many references to The Wizard of Oz in the episode.
Israel Kamakawiwoʻole versionEdit
|"Somewhere Over the Rainbow/What a Wonderful World"|
|Single by Israel Kamakawiwoʻole|
|from the album Facing Future|
|Label||Mountain Apple Company|
|Songwriter(s)||E.Y. Harburg, Bob Thiele, George David Weiss|
"Somewhere over the Rainbow/What a Wonderful World"
Israel Kamakawiwoʻole's album Facing Future, released in 1993, included a ukulele medley of the song and Louis Armstrong's "What a Wonderful World". It reached number 12 on Billboard's Hot Digital Tracks chart the week of January 31, 2004 (for the survey week ending January 18, 2004). In the UK, it was released as a single under the title "Somewhere Over the Rainbow". It entered the UK Official Singles Chart in April 2007 at number 68. In Germany, the single also returned to the German Singles Chart in September 2010. After only 2 weeks on that chart, it had already received gold status for having sold 150,000 copies. In October 2010, it reached No. 1 in the German charts and 2011 it has been certified 5x Gold for selling more than 750,000 copies. It stayed 12 non-consecutive weeks at the top spot and was the most successful single in Germany in 2010. As of March 2012, it's the 2nd best-selling download ever in Germany with digital sales between 500,000 and 600,000. In France, it debuted at number 4 in December 2010 and reached number one. In the USA, it was certified Platinum for 1,000,000 downloads sold. To date it has sold over 4.2 million digital copies as of October 2014. In Switzerland, it received Platinum, too, for 30,000 copies sold.
This version of the song has been used in several commercials, films and television programs including Finding Forrester, Meet Joe Black, 50 First Dates, Son of the Mask, Snakes on a Plane, Charmed, South Pacific, Cold Case, ER, Life on Mars, Horizon, and Scrubs. The Kamakawiwoʻole version of the song was covered by the cast of Glee on the season one finale, "Journey," and included on the extended play Glee: The Music, Journey to Regionals, charting at number 30 in the UK, 31 in Canada and Ireland, 42 in Australia, and 43 in the US. Cliff Richard recorded his own version of the medley based on this one with a medley of "Over the Rainbow/What A Wonderful World" released as a single from the album Wanted, which charted in the UK in 2001 and Aselin Debison recorded the medley for her 2002 album Sweet is the Melody.
This version of the song was recorded in 1988, in Honolulu in just one take. Israel called the recording studio at 3 am. He was given 15 minutes to arrive by Milan Bertosa. Bertosa is quoted to say ″And in walks the largest human being I had seen in my life. Israel was probably like 500 pounds. And the first thing at hand is to find something for him to sit on." The building security found Israel a big steel chair. "Then I put up some microphones, do a quick sound check, roll tape, and the first thing he does is 'Somewhere Over the Rainbow.' He played and sang, one take, and it was over."
Eva Cassidy versionEdit
|"Over the Rainbow"|
|Single by Eva Cassidy|
|from the album 'The Other Side/Songbird'|
|Released||29 January 2001 (UK)|
Eva Cassidy recorded a version of the song for the 1992 Chuck Brown/Eva Cassidy album The Other Side. After her death in 1996, it was included in her posthumously-released compilation album Songbird, released in 1998 and was released as a CD single in 2001. It was popularized by the BBC on BBC Radio 2 and on the television show Top of the Pops 2; the latter featured a video recording of Cassidy performing it. This publicity helped push sales of the compilation album Songbird to number 1 in the UK charts. Her recording was selected by the BBC in the UK for their Songs of the Century album in the year 1999. Her performance of it at Blues Alley was published for the first time in January 2011 on her Simply Eva album.
One of the versions that Eva Cassidy recorded of Over The Rainbow is used in the opening credits of Nick Cassavetes' film Alpha Dog.
- CD single
- "Over the Rainbow"
- "Dark End of the Street"
|Scotland (Official Charts Company)||36|
|UK Singles (Official Charts Company)||42|
Danielle Hope versionEdit
|"Over the Rainbow"|
|Single by Danielle Hope|
|Released||23 May 2010 (UK)|
|Format||Digital download, CD single|
Danielle Hope, the winner of the Wizard of Oz-themed BBC talent show Over the Rainbow, released a cover version of the song. It was released by digital download on 23 May 2010 and a CD single was released on 31 May 2010. As it was recorded before a winner was announced, runners-up Lauren Samuels and Sophie Evans also recorded versions of it. These were both later made available for download on 6 June 2010. All three finalists appeared on the CD single's B-side: a Wizard of Oz medley.
- UK digital download
- "Over the Rainbow" – 2:58
- CD single
- "Over the Rainbow"
- "The Wizard of Oz medley" – Sophie Evans, Danielle Hope and Lauren Samuels
|UK Singles (Official Charts Company)||29|
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Then I put up some microphones, do a quick sound check, roll tape, and the first thing he does is 'Somewhere Over the Rainbow.' He played and sang, one take, and it was over.
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- "Danielle Hope: Artist Chart History". Official Charts Company.