Sunday, January 11, 2009

Soundtrack Songs: Over the Rainbow

Long-time Wizard of Oz fan chiming in here - I read the books as a child, I watched the movie on our black-and-white television when it aired every year about Easter time (even now, watching a full-length DVD, I can still sense when all the commercial breaks should appear)... and I was absolutely amazed when we got our first color TV and I found out the witch's face was green!

Who doesn't relate to the entire concept as metaphor? - every life has its share of yellow brick roads ("it's always best to start at the beginning"), wicked witches ("I'll get you, my pretty... and your little dog too!") and ruby slippers ("you've always had the power"). It's the typical hero's (in this case, she-ra's) journey, with three of the best friends anyone could hope to have - brains and heart and courage, oh my... :-)

I'm so committed (don't say obsessed!) that my e-mail address is OzWoman321, my blog is Optimistic Voices, my former booking agency was Horse of a Different Color Booking and my house concert series was Heart's Desire House Concerts, after Dorothy's epiphany at the end of the film (scroll about halfway down)...

From Wikipedia:

"Over the Rainbow" (often referred to as "Somewhere Over the Rainbow") is a classic ballad song with music by Harold Arlen and lyrics by E.Y. Harburg. It was written for the movie The Wizard of Oz, and it became Judy Garland's signature song.

The song's plaintive melody and simple lyrics depict a pre-adolescent girl's desire to escape from the "hopeless jumble" of this world, from the sadness of raindrops to the bright new world "over the rainbow." It expresses the childlike faith that a door will magically open to a place where "troubles melt like lemon drops".

The song is so popular that it tops the "Songs of the Century" list compiled by the Recording Industry Association of America and the National Endowment for the Arts. It also topped the American Film Institute's "100 Years, 100 Songs" list.

A time-honored story tells that this classic song was cut from the film after a preview, because MGM head Louis B. Mayer thought the song "slowed down the picture" and that "our star sings it in a barnyard". Most of the music in the film is medium-to-high energy, in contrast to this gently paced melody. However, the frequent instrumental references to the song throughout the film, including its title sequences, meant that the deleting of the song was short lived. Harold Arlen, who was at the preview, and executive producer Arthur Freed lobbied to get the song reinstated in the film, which it was.

It was not until 1956, when MGM released the first true soundtrack from the film that the film version of the song was available for sale to the public. The 1956 Soundtrack release was timed to coincide with the television premiere of the movie.

Over the Rainbow survived to become one of the most memorable anthems of the century, covered by everyone from Tori Amos to Willie Nelson - I've mentioned previously that I compiled a mix of 19 different versions of the song (goodness knows there are hundreds)... and here are just a few, beginning of course with the definitive version by Ms. Garland...

Auntie Em: Find yourself a place where there isn't any trouble!

Dorothy: 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.

Judy Garland: Over the Rainbow


Israel Kamakawiwo'ole: Over the Rainbow
Nestor Torres: Over the Rainbow

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