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God's Gift of Music: Judy Garland Somewhere Over The Rainbow 1939

Updated: Oct 10, 2022

Video from Gerard Tondu

This song written by composer Harold Arlen and lyricist Yip Harburg and sung by Judy Garland is an American Classic. For those of us who grew up with the movie classic "The Wizard of Oz, which was played every year on multiple TV networks (back when there were only 3) had a profound effect on our childhood and memories.

"When Judy Garland went over the rainbow as Dorothy Gale in the classic 1939 musical The Wizard of Oz, she almost left without singing what was to become her signature number. For an advance screening, MGM executives had removed “Over the Rainbow” because they felt it slowed down the film.

Associate producer Arthur Freed stepped in, telling studio head Louis B. Mayer, “The song stays—or I go,” to which Mayer replied: “Let the boys have the damn song. Put it back in the picture. It can’t hurt.” More than 75 years later, the film and the song by composer Harold Arlen and lyricist Yip Harburg are cultural touchstones. In 2001, “Over the Rainbow” was voted the greatest song of the 20th century in a joint survey by the National Endowment for the Arts and the Recording Industry Association of America.

“It might not seem obvious that a song performed by a young girl at the beginning of a fantasy movie would take on a life of its own,” said Walter Frisch, a professor of music whose new book, Arlen and Harburg’s Over the Rainbow, traces the work’s history. One factor of the song’s appeal that Frisch cites is the universality of a childhood desire to get away or escape. “The song’s mix of hope and anxiety has allowed people to read into it their own concerns,” he said, noting that the lyrics are general enough that one would not know the singer was standing in a farmyard with her dog.." from the article: 'Over the Rainbow': The Story Behind the Song of the Century

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