Optimistic Voices

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"Optimistic Voices" is the name of both a song and the choir singing it, from the 1939 film classic The Wizard of Oz. The music is by Herbert Stothart & Harold Arlen and the lyrics are by E.Y. Harburg.

It is heard on the soundtrack when the group is saved from a sleeping spell in a poppy field as they approach the Emerald City. The song is a bouncy number sung by an offscreen female chorus.

The track breaks the fourth wall to some extent. When the song starts, the Scarecrow (Ray Bolger) looks around, reacting to the music.

Action as the song occurs[edit]

As the song progresses, the whole group seems to hear it—they skip toward the Emerald City in time to the music.

After the verse, the underscore switches to the witch's theme, as the film cuts to the witch's castle, where she jumps on her broomstick and takes off for the Emerald City herself.

Cutting back to the entrance to the Emerald City, the group of four approaches the city gate. The verse of the song is reprised, and then is closed by a single line instrumental from "We're Off to See the Wizard" just as Dorothy (Judy Garland) rings the bell.

This song is one of several in the film presumably intended to speak to its American audience, which by then was ten years into the Great Depression.

According to the CD liner notes, the choir was a studio group consisting of the MGM orchestra and two individual groups called The Debutantes and The Rhythmettes.

The final line in the film version, "March up to the gate and bid it open", is rendered in an outtake as "March up to that gate..." [Deluxe CD]

Other uses[edit]

  • Bette Midler recorded a cover of the song for her album Bette Midler of 1973. The song is performed as a medley with "Lullaby of Broadway".
  • The song was also used during Dr. Melfi's dream involving Tony Soprano in the third and fifth episodes of The Sopranos, Season 2 (i.e., "Toodle Fucking-Oo" and "Big Girls Don't Cry", respectively).
  • In 2008, this song was used in IBM commercials for their "Go Green" campaign. Animated plants and animals accompanied the music.
  • CT's Dr.VonFiend (Scott McGuire and Michael Occhionero) remade the song as a slow brooding piece, for their first full-length album, "Welcome to Dr.VonFiend's Traveling Medicine Show", in 2008.

See also[edit]