Home News 'Over the Rainbow': The Story Behind the Song of the Century

'Over the Rainbow': The Story Behind the Song of the Century

art

Image courtesy Metro Goldwyn Mayer

connected

Hear a selection of 'Over the Rainbow' covers by various artists.

When Judy Garland walked the rainbow as Dorothy Gale in the 1939 musical classic The Wizard of Oz , she almost left without singing what her signature number was supposed to be. For a preview, MGM executives had Over the Rainbow removed because they felt it was slowing the movie down.

Associate producer Arthur Freed stepped in and said studio boss Louis B. Mayer: The song stays - or I'll leave, to which Mayer replied: Let the boys have the damn song. Put it back into the picture. It can not hurt. More than 75 years later, the film and song by the composer Harold Arlen and the lyricist Yip Harburg are cultural touchstones. In 2001, Over the Rainbow was voted the best song of the 20th century in a joint poll by the National Endowment for the Arts and the Recording Industry Association of America.

It may not seem obvious that a song played by a young girl at the start of a fantasy film would take on a life of its own, said Walter Frisch, a music professor whose new book, Arlen und Harburgs Over the Rainbow , traces the history of the plant. One factor in the appeal of the song that Frisch quotes is the universality of the child's desire to get away or to flee. The mix of hope and fear in the song allowed people to read into their own concerns, he said, noting that the lyrics were generic enough that you wouldn't know the singer was on a farm with her dog.

texas vs johnson case

Freshly defines Over the Rainbow as a classic I want song delivered at the beginning of a show or movie to express the desires that motivate the protagonist's actions. Freed wanted a ballad that would rival a popular movie song of the time, Someday My Prince Will Come from Walt Disney's 1937 hit animation Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs .

When I tell people that I'm working on Harold Arlen's music, they stare at me blankly and don't recognize his name, Frisch said. But when I mention “Over the Rainbow” and “Stormy Weather” they say, “He did that?” Frisch believes that the composer's name should be as well known as his contemporaries George Gershwin or Irving Berlin.

difference between an epidemic and a pandemic

Arlen's music spans a wide range of styles, from jazz-inspired melodies to lighthearted babble. During their collaboration, Harburg generally suggested an idea or title related to the plot, Arlen composed the music, and Harburg then wrote the lyrics. Musical inspiration often hit unusual moments. On the way to Grauman's Chinese Theater with his wife, Arlen asked them to stop the car when they passed Schwab's drugstore on Sunset Boulevard. In a creative outburst, he wrote the melody for Over the Rainbow on the sheet of music that he always carried with him.

A hallmark of Arlen is to start a song with an octave jump, as in the initial syllables Some-WHERE. The section Someday I Wish a Star should imitate a child's piano practice, Arlen claimed. Harburg remembered Arlen whistling to call his dog. When Harburg and Arlen were stuck on one end of the song, Ira Gershwin stepped in to help. When asked why he suggested ending the song by asking why, oh why can't I, Gershwin later recalled: Well, it turned out to be a long evening.

The song, which Garland later called sacred, became their hymn. When it was named Song of the Century, the headlines were usually number one in the style of Judy Garland's 'Over the Rainbow,' with little mention of the composer or lyricist. The song followed and sometimes weighed on her over the decades. It's like a grandmother with braids, she once said.

Garland would interpret Over the Rainbow differently by changing the tempo, timbre, rhythm, phrasing, diction and choice of pitch, writes Frisch and notes: It grew with her and became the highlight of her concerts. At her concert at Carnegie Hall in 1961, everyone knew she was going to sing it, but the audience had to scream for it.

Frisch's research focus was the Austro-German music of the 1820s to 1930s. People ask me: 'How did you get from Brahms to Harold Arlen?' He said. For me, the special thing about both Brahms and Arlen is that they are deeply expressive, but there is always a sense of mastery of the emotion that conveys longing and longing.

cohen v california case brief

He doubts that there is a really authentic version of Over the Rainbow. There are as many different versions as there are actors and contexts, he said. Just this year in Manchester, England, Ariana Grande sang it as an encore at a benefit concert for the victims of a bomb attack at one of their previous concerts. Here the song conveyed a message of solidarity and reassurance, said Frisch.

Numerous famous singers recorded versions of the song during its long and rich life. Frisch finishes his book by honoring its creators with a reference to a scene just before the end of The Wizard of Oz : We should pay tribute to the men behind the curtain. Harold Arlen and Yip Harburg are the real magicians.

Tags Musikfilm

Interesting Articles

Editor'S Choice

Is Vladimir Putin as powerful as the West thinks?
Is Vladimir Putin as powerful as the West thinks?
In his new book Weak Strongman: The Limits of Power in Putin's Russia, Professor Timothy Frye argues that contrary to popular belief, Vladimir Putin is not all-powerful.
Sergei Shnurov and his group 'Leningrad': A window to Russian rock music
Sergei Shnurov and his group 'Leningrad': A window to Russian rock music
University announcement on fossil fuel investments
University announcement on fossil fuel investments
The university does not hold direct investments in publicly traded oil and gas companies and is formalizing this non-investment policy for the foreseeable future.
Columbia physicist honored with US commemorative postage honor
Columbia physicist honored with US commemorative postage honor
Chien-Shiung Wu's groundbreaking work changed the way scientists look at the structure of the universe.
Risk of Autism Associated with Herpes Infection During Pregnancy
Risk of Autism Associated with Herpes Infection During Pregnancy
Women who were actively infected with genital herpes during early pregnancy were twice as likely to have a child who later developed autism, according to a study by scientists at the Center for Infection and Immunity at Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health Spectrum Disorder (ASD) was diagnosed and the Norwegian Public Health Institute. The study is the first that
International semesters and dual study programs
International semesters and dual study programs
Enroll in one of more than two dozen academic programs abroad and expand your understanding of law, language, culture, and governance in a global context.
Clinical Psychology PhD
Clinical Psychology PhD
Columbia University's Teachers College is the first and largest graduate school in the United States and has been one of the best in the country for years.