Over the Rainbow
|"Over the Rainbow"|
Judy Garland performing the song in the
1939 feature film, The Wizard of Oz.
|Music by||Harold Arlen|
|Lyrics by||E.Y. Harburg|
|Original artist||Judy Garland|
|Recorded by||See Covers|
"Over the Rainbow" (often referred to as "Somewhere Over the Rainbow") is a classic Academy Award-winning ballad song with music by Harold Arlen and lyrics by E.Y. Harburg. It was written for the 1939 movie, The Wizard of Oz, and was sung by actress Judy Garland in her starring role as Dorothy Gale. Over time, it would become Garland's signature song.
About five minutes into the film, actress Judy Garland, playing the lead character, Dorothy, sings "Over the Rainbow" after unsuccessfully trying to get her aunt and uncle to listen to her relate an unpleasant incident involving her dog, Toto, and the town spinster, Miss Gulch (Margaret Hamilton). Dorothy's Aunt Em tells her to "find yourself a place where you won't get into any trouble", prompting Dorothy to walk off by herself. She muses to Toto "'Someplace 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.....", and begins singing the song.
The song is number one of 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 "Over the Rainbow" the greatest movie song of all time on the list of "AFI's 100 Years...100 Songs". It was adopted (along with Irving Berlin's "White Christmas") by American troops in Europe in World War II as a symbol of the United States—in fact, Garland even performed the song for American troops as part of a 1943 command performance.
In April 2005, the United States Postal Service issued a commemorative stamp recognizing lyricist Yip Harburg's accomplishments. The stamp pictures the opening lyric from "Over the Rainbow".
The Wizard of Oz 
The "Over the Rainbow" sequence, as well as the entirety of the Kansas scenes, was directed (though uncredited) by King Vidor. 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 the song "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 the song in the picture eventually paid off.
At the start of the film, part of the song is played by the MGM orchestra over the opening credits. A reprise of the song was deleted after being filmed. An additional chorus was to be sung by Dorothy while she was locked in a room in the witch's castle, helplessly awaiting death as the witch's 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 that extremely intense and fear-filled rendition, Dorothy weeps 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 witch's crystal, where she is soon replaced by the visage of the witch, mocking and taunting Dorothy before turning toward the camera to cackle.
Original Garland recordings 
Judy Garland first recorded the song on the MGM soundstages on October 7, 1938, using an arrangement by Murray Cutter. A studio recording of the song, not from the actual film soundtrack, was recorded and released as a single by Decca Records in September 1939. 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 33⅓ 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 movie. 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, "Over the Rainbow" became Garland's signature song and she would perform it for the next thirty years, until her death in 1969. Garland performed the song without altering it, singing exactly as she did for the movie. 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 a letter to Harold Arlen, Garland wrote, "'Over the Rainbow' has become part of my life. It's so symbolic of everybody's dreams and wishes that I'm sure that's why some people get tears in their eyes when they hear it. I've sung it thousands of times and it's still the song that's closest to my heart."
An introductory verse that was not used in the movie 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, Doris Day on her 1958 album Hooray For Hollywood (Vol.1), Tony Bennett on his 1961 album Tony Bennett Sings A String Of Harold Arlen, Ella Fitzgerald and Sarah Vaughan (among others). Garland herself sang the introductory verse only once, on a 1948 radio broadcast of The Louella Parsons Show. A second bridge is also used occasionally in theatrical productions. The short reprise, deleted from the final cut of the film, uses the melody of the bridge (or "B" section).
Other charting or significant versions 
In singles and albums 
- Punk rock band Me First and the Gimme Gimmes released a cover of the song on their 1999 album Are A Drag.
- Doo-wop group The Demensions charted the song to #16 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1960.
- 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 blue's based revival of the song at the 1973 Sunbury Pop Festival.
- Patti LaBelle and the Bluebelles album Over the Rainbow peaked at #20 on the US R&B charts in 1966.
- Marusha charted on #3 in the German single charts in 1994 with a dance-version of the song.
- Katharine McPhee released a cover of the song and it peaked at #12 on The Billboard Hot 100.
- Jerry Lee Lewis had a number 10 hit single of the song on the American country music chart in 1980.
- Nicholas David, contestant of the third season of U.S. rendition of The Voice, charted the song to #96 in 2012, selling 48,000 copies of the song.
In films 
- 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.
- Jimmy Stewart sang a "drunken" comedic version of it on camera in The Philadelphia Story (1940).
- An instrumental piano bar version can be heard in the classic Paul Newman film adaptation of Tennessee Williams' Sweet Bird of Youth (1959), as Newman's character carries a drugged, inebriated and aging movie star up to her hotel room. It was a subtle allegory used by director Richard Brooks to help illustrate and lend pathos to the lead characters.
- It can also be heard in an ironic context in the Vincent Price horror film, Dr. Phibes Rises Again (1972).
- Director Nora Ephron used two different versions of the song in her movies Sleepless in Seattle and You've Got Mail. Coincidentally both movies star Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks in the lead roles. The versions used are by Ray Charles and Harry Nilsson but only the latter one is included on a soundtrack release of the film.
Israel Kamakawiwo'ole version 
|"Somewhere over the Rainbow/What a Wonderful World"|
|Single by Israel Kamakawiwo'ole|
|from the album Facing Future|
|Label||Mountain Apple Company|
Israel Kamakawiwoʻole's album Facing Future, released in 1993, included a ukulele medley of "Over the Rainbow" and "What a Wonderful World". The song reached #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 the song was released as a single under the title "Somewhere Over the Rainbow". It entered the UK Official Singles Chart in April 2007 at #68. After several returns to the chart, in September 2008 it reached its peak position so far going up to #46. In Germany, the single also returned to the German Singles Chart in September 2010. After only 2 weeks on that chart, the song already received gold for 150,000 copies sold. In October 2010 the song 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, the song debuted at #4 in December 2010 and reached number one. In the USA, the song was certified Platinum for 1,000,000 downloads sold. In Switzerland, the song received Platinum, too, for 30,000 copies sold.
This version has been used in several commercials, films and television programs including Finding Forrester, Meet Joe Black, 50 First Dates, 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, released as a single from the album Wanted, which charted in the UK.
Year-end charts 
Sales and certifications 
Eva Cassidy version 
|"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 Cassidy's death in 1996, the song was included in her posthumously-released compilation album Songbird, released in 1998 and was released as a CD single in 2001. This version was popularised 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 the song. This publicity helped push sales of the compilation album Songbird to #1 in the UK charts. Eva Cassidy's unique rendition of "Over the Rainbow" was selected by the BBC in the UK for their Songs of the Century album in the year 1999. Cassidy's performance of "Over the Rainbow" at Blues Alley was published for the first time in January 2011 on her Simply Eva album.
Track listings 
- CD single
- "Over the Rainbow"
- "Dark End of the Street"
Chart performance 
|UK Singles (Official Charts Company)||42|
Kylie Minogue version 
During her treatment and recovery from breast cancer, Australian recording artist Kylie Minogue released a live cover version of the song. The song's audio was taken directly from Minogue's live DVD Kylie Showgirl, filmed on 6 May 2005 at Earls Court Exhibition Centre. Released on 25 December 2005, it was her first single to be released by digital means only. The release was joined by her cover of "Santa Baby" as a B-side.
Danielle Hope version 
|"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. The song was released by digital download on 23 May 2010 and a CD single was released on 31 May 2010. As the song was recorded before a winner was announced, runners-up Lauren Samuels and Sophie Evans also recorded versions of the song. 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.
Track listings 
- 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
Chart performance 
|UK Singles (Official Charts Company)||29|
See also 
- Roberts, David (2006). British Hit Singles & Albums (19th ed.). London: Guinness World Records Limited. p. 134. ISBN 1-904994-10-5.
- "The Movie - Post-Production and Premiere - OzWiki". Thewizardofoz.info. Retrieved 2012-11-22.
- The Wizard of Oz (MGM label) - "The Judy Room".
- The Wizard of Oz (Rhino Movie Music label) - "The Judy Room".
- The Wizard of Oz (Decca label) - "The Judy Room".
- The Wonderful World of Oz Documentary - The Wizard of Oz (3-Disc Collector's Edition DVD, 2005).
- Scott Brogan. "Judy Garland MP3's". Thejudyroom.com. Retrieved 2012-11-22.
- Milosheff, Peter (March 24, 2010). "The Demensions, White Doo Wop From The Bronx". The Bronx Times.
- Pop Archives accessed June 7, 2010.
- "The Billboard Hot 100 Week of December 22, 2012". Billboard. Prometheus Global Media. Retrieved 14 December 2012.
- Billboard, page 65 (7 February 2004).
- "Gold-/Platin-Datenbank ('Over the Rainbow')" (in German). Bundesverband Musikindustrie.
- "Musik-Jahrescharts: "Sanfter Riese" und der Graf setzen sich durch - media control". Media-control.de. Retrieved 2012-11-22.
- ""Poker Face" knackt 500.000er-Download-Marke - media control". Media-control.de. Retrieved 2012-11-22.
- "600.000 Verkäufe: Michel Teló legt Download-Rekord hin - media control". Media-control.de. 2012-03-30. Retrieved 2012-11-22.
- "Gold & Platinum Searchable Database - November 22, 2012". RIAA. Retrieved 2012-11-22.
- Steffen Hung. "Die Offizielle Schweizer Hitparade und Music Community". Hitparade.ch. Retrieved 2012-11-22.
- Flandez, Raymund (June 9, 2010). "‘Glee’ Season One Finale, ‘Journey’: TV Recap". The Wall Street Journal. Les Hinton. Retrieved December 2, 2010.
- "Glee is #1 Again" (Press release). PR Newswire. May 26, 2010. Retrieved December 2, 2010.
- "Top 40 Official UK Singles Archive: 26th June 2010". The Official Charts Company. June 26, 2010. Retrieved December 2, 2010.
- "Canadian Hot 100: Week of June 26, 2010 (Biggest Jump)". Billboard. Nielsen Business Media, Inc. June 26, 2010. Retrieved December 2, 2010.
- "Irish Music Charts Archive: Top 50 Singles, Week Ending 17 June 2010". Chart Track. GfK. Retrieved December 2, 2010.
- The ARIA Report: Week Commencing July 12, 2010 (PDF) (1064). Australian Recording Industry Association. July 12, 2010. Retrieved December 2, 2010.
- "Hot 100: Week of June 26, 2010 (Biggest Jump)". Billboard. Nielsen Business Media, Inc. June 26, 2010. Retrieved December 2, 2010.
- "Snepmusique.com, le site du Snep". Disqueenfrance.com. Retrieved 2012-11-22.
- "2011 MTV EMA - News". MTV.de. Retrieved 2012-11-22.
- "Schweizer Jahreshitparade 2011". hitparade.ch. Retrieved 2012-11-22. Unknown parameter
- "Gold-/Platin-Datenbank (Israel Kamakawiwo' Ole; 'Over the Rainbow')" (in German). Bundesverband Musikindustrie.
- "The Official Swiss Charts and Music Community: Awards (Israel Kamakawiwo'ole; 'Over the Rainbow')". Hung Medien.
- "American single certifications – Israel Kamakawiwo'ole – Over the Rainbow". Recording Industry Association of America. Retrieved 22 March 2012. If necessary, click Advanced, then click Format, then select Single, then click SEARCH
- Grein, Paul (2011-10-05). "Week Ending Oct. 2, 2011. Songs: Gone But Not Forgotten". Yahoo! Music. Retrieved 2012-05-10.
- "Eva Cassidy" UK Singles Chart. Official Charts Company.
- "Over the Rainbow". Kylie.com. EMI. Archived from the original on 31 May 2008. Retrieved 3 February 2011. "'Over the Rainbow' was Kylie's first ever digital only single and was released on Christmas Day 2005. The live track is taken from 'Kylie - Showgirl The Greatest Hits Tour' DVD, which was filmed in May 2005 at London's Earls Court."
- Lübker, Stefan. "Kylie Minogue hat ihren Brustkrebs besiegt" [Kylie Minogue has defeated her breast cancer]. Probanden Online (in German). Archived from the original on 3 February 2011. Retrieved 3 February 2011.
- "Kylie announces 'comeback' dates". CBBC Newsround. BBC. 21 November 2005. Archived from the original on 3 February 2011. Retrieved 3 February 2011. "The singer's live version of Somewhere Over The Rainbow was recorded at London's Earl's Court earlier this year and will be accompanied by Kylie's version of Marilyn Monroe's Santa Baby."
- "Winning Dorothy to release 'Rainbow'". Retrieved 21 May 2010.
- "Danielle Hope ('Over the Rainbow')". Retrieved 27 May 2010.
- "Danielle Hope" UK Singles Chart. Official Charts Company.