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Over the Rainbow

This article is about the song from The Wizard of Oz (1939 film). For other uses, see Over the Rainbow (disambiguation).
"Over the Rainbow"
File:Judy Garland Over the Rainbow 2.jpg
Judy Garland performing the song in the
1939 feature film, The Wizard of Oz.
Song by Judy Garland
Published 1939
Genre Ballad
Composer Harold Arlen
Lyricist E.Y. Harburg
Language English
Recorded by See Covers

"Over the Rainbow" (often referred to as "Somewhere Over the Rainbow") is a classic Academy Award-winning ballad, with music by Harold Arlen and lyrics by E.Y. Harburg.[1] 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.[1] It soon became her signature song, and one of the most enduring standards of the 20th century. About five minutes into the film, Dorothy sings the song after failing to get her aunt and uncle to listen to her relate an unpleasant incident involving her dog, Toto, and the town spinster, Miss Gulch. Dorothy's Aunt Em tells her to "find yourself a place where you won't get into any trouble." This prompts Dorothy to walk off by herself, musing to Toto, "'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..." at which point she begins singing.


The song is number one on 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. Garland herself performed the song for the troops as part of a 1943 command[according to whom?] performance. In April 2005, the United States Postal Service issued a commemorative stamp recognizing lyricist Yip Harburg's accomplishments. The stamp features the opening lyric from "Over the Rainbow." The song was also used as an Audio Wakeup call in the STS-88 Space shuttle mission in Flight Day 4, which was dedicated to astronaut Robert D. Cabana from his daughter, Sara.[2] The song was honored with the 2014 Towering Song Award by the Songwriters Hall of Fame, which was sung at its dinner on June 12, 2014 by Jackie Evancho.[3]

The Wizard of Oz

The "Over the Rainbow" sequence, as well as the entirety of the Kansas scenes, was directed by King Vidor, though he was not credited. 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 it "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.[4] 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 5-CD Supreme 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 (Margaret Hamilton), mocking and taunting Dorothy before turning toward the camera to cackle.

Original Garland recordings

A sample of the original version of "Over the Rainbow" from The Wizard of Oz, sung by Judy Garland.

Problems playing this file? See media help.
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 3313 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.[5] The soundtrack version has been re-released several times over the years, including in a "Deluxe Edition" from Rhino Records in 1995.[6]

'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.

– Judy Garland

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.[7] 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."[8]


An introductory verse ("When all the world is a hopeless jumble…") 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, Sarah Vaughan, and Norma Waterson (among others). Garland herself sang the introductory verse only once, on a 1948 radio broadcast of The Louella Parsons Show.[9] Lyrics for a second verse ("Once by a word only lightly spoken…") appear in the British edition of the sheet music.[10]

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). Pop singer Pink performed the song with the introductory verse at the 86th Academy Awards on March 2, 2014, in celebration of the 75th anniversary of The Wizard of Oz .

The song has been translated into Esperanto twice. The first translation was by Londoner Harry Holmes. The second, more recent, translation is by Pejno Simono.

Other versions

In singles and albums

In films

Israel Kamakawiwo'ole version

"Somewhere over the Rainbow/What a Wonderful World"
File:Israel Kamakawiwo'ole Facing Future.jpg
Single by Israel Kamakawiwoʻole
from the album Facing Future
Released 1993
Format CD single
Recorded 1993
Label Mountain Apple Company

Israel Kamakawiwoʻole's album Facing Future, released in 1993, included a ukulele medley of "Over the Rainbow" and Louis Armstrong's "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).[21] 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.[citation needed] In Germany, the single also returned to the German Singles Chart in September 2010. After only 2 weeks on that chart, the song had already received gold status for having sold 150,000 copies.[22] 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.[22] It stayed 12 non-consecutive weeks at the top spot and was the most successful single in Germany in 2010.[23] As of March 2012, it's the 2nd best-selling download ever in Germany with digital sales between 500,000 and 600,000.[24][25] In France, the song debuted at #4 in December 2010 and reached number one.[26] In the USA, the song was certified Platinum for 1,000,000 downloads sold.[27] To date the song has sold over 4.2 million digital copies as of October 2014.[28] In Switzerland, the song received Platinum, too, for 30,000 copies sold.[29]

This version has been used in several commercials, films and television programs including Finding Forrester, Meet Joe Black, 50 First Dates, Son of the Mask, 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.[30][31][32][33][34][35][36] Cliff Richard recorded his own version of the medley based on this version with a medley of "Over the Rainbow/What A Wonderful World" released as a single from the album Wanted, which charted in the UK in 2001 and Aselin Debison recorded the medley for her 2002 album Sweet is the Melody.

This version of the song was recorded in 1988, in Honolulu in just one take. Israel called the recording studio at 3am. He was given 15 minutes to arrive by Milan Bertosa. Bertosa is quoted to say ″And in walks the largest human being I had seen in my life. Israel was probably like 500 pounds. And the first thing at hand is to find something for him to sit on." The building security found Israel a big steel chair. "Then I put up some microphones, do a quick sound check, roll tape, and the first thing he does is 'Somewhere Over the Rainbow.' He played and sang, one take, and it was over."

Eva Cassidy version

"Over the Rainbow"
File:Eva Cassidy Over the Rainbow single.jpg
Single by Eva Cassidy
from the album 'The Other Side/Songbird'
Released 29 January 2001 (UK)
Format CD single
Recorded 1992
Label Blix Street

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
  1. "Over the Rainbow"
  2. "Dark End of the Street"

Chart performance

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Chart (2001) Peak

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.[46][47] Released on 25 December 2005, it was her first single to be released by digital means only.[46] The release was joined by her cover of "Santa Baby" as a B-side.[48]

Danielle Hope version

"Over the Rainbow"
File:Danielle Hope Over the Rainbow.jpg
Single by Danielle Hope
Released 23 May 2010 (UK)
Format Digital download, CD single
Recorded 2010
Genre Pop
Length 2:58
Label Polydor Records

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.[49] 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.[49]

The single was a charity record, raising money for both the BBC Performing Arts Fund and Prostate UK.[50]

Track listings

UK digital download
  1. "Over the Rainbow" - 2:58
CD single
  1. "Over the Rainbow"
  2. "The Wizard of Oz medley" - Sophie Evans, Danielle Hope and Lauren Samuels

Chart performance

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Chart (2010) Peak

Ayahi Takagaki version

"Over the Rainbow"
Single by Ayahi Takagaki
from the album 'Ai no Hi'
Released 08 October 2014 (Japan)
Format CD single
Recorded 2014
Genre Pop
Length 3:09
Label Music Ray'n

Japanese voice actress and singer Ayahi Takagaki featured a cover of this song as a B-side track on her single released on October 8, 2014, Ai no Hi.[52]

See also


  1. ^ a b Roberts, David (2006). British Hit Singles & Albums (19th ed.). London: Guinness World Records Limited. p. 134. ISBN 1-904994-10-5. 
  2. ^ "NASA Human Spaceflight Database - STS-88 Wakeup Calls". 
  3. ^ Shriver, Jerry. "Songwriters gala links old and new with a 'Rainbow'", USA Today, June 13, 2014
  4. ^ "The Movie - Post-Production and Premiere - OzWiki". Retrieved 2012-11-22. 
  5. ^ The Wizard of Oz (MGM label) - "The Judy Room."
  6. ^ The Wizard of Oz (Rhino Movie Music label) - "The Judy Room."
  7. ^ The Wizard of Oz (Decca label) - "The Judy Room."
  8. ^ The Wonderful World of Oz Documentary - The Wizard of Oz (3-Disc Collector's Edition DVD, 2005).
  9. ^ Scott Brogan. "Judy Garland MP3's". Retrieved 2012-11-22. 
  10. ^ "Over the Rainbow," published by Francis, Day, & Hunter, Ltd., London
  11. ^ Lyrics Depot, Over The Rainbow, Artist: Glenn Miller
  12. ^ Milosheff, Peter (March 24, 2010). "The Demensions, White Doo Wop From The Bronx". The Bronx Times. 
  13. ^ Pop Archives accessed June 7, 2010.
  14. ^ "The Billboard Hot 100 Week of December 22, 2012". Billboard. Prometheus Global Media. Retrieved 14 December 2012. 
  15. ^ Ludovica Sanfelice (26 October 2012). "X Factor 6, Arisa perde gli Akmè". La Stampa (in Italian). Retrieved 8 December 2012. 
  16. ^ "Due respiri di Chiara Galiazzo è già disco d'oro" (in Italian). Radio Italia Solo Musica Italiana. 20 December 2012. Archived from the original on 24 December 2012. 
  17. ^ "Archivio – Top Digital Download – Classifica settimanale WK 16 (dal 15-04-2013 al 21-04-2013)" (in Italian). Federation of the Italian Music Industry. Retrieved 26 October 2013. 
  18. ^ "Chiara canterà Over the Rainbow per lo spot di Telecom". Il Mattino di Padova (in Italian). 10 April 2013. Archived from the original on 14 April 2013. 
  19. ^ "Italian single certifications – Chiara – Over the Rainbow" (in Italian). Federazione Industria Musicale Italiana. Retrieved 4 September 2014.  Select Online in the field Sezione. Enter Chiara in the field Filtra. The certification will load automatically
  20. ^ "Stages — Josh Groban". iTunes Store. Apple Inc. Retrieved March 10, 2015. 
  21. ^ Billboard, page 65 (7 February 2004).
  22. ^ a b "Gold-/Platin-Datenbank ('Over the Rainbow')" (in German). Bundesverband Musikindustrie. 
  23. ^ "Musik-Jahrescharts: "Sanfter Riese" und der Graf setzen sich durch - media control". Retrieved 2012-11-22. 
  24. ^ ""Poker Face" knackt 500.000er-Download-Marke - media control". Retrieved 2012-11-22. 
  25. ^ "600.000 Verkäufe: Michel Teló legt Download-Rekord hin - media control". 2012-03-30. Retrieved 2012-11-22. 
  26. ^
  27. ^ "Gold & Platinum Searchable Database - November 22, 2012". RIAA. Retrieved 2012-11-22. 
  28. ^ a b Gary Trust (October 21, 2014). "Ask Billboard: The Weird Connections Between Mary Lambert". Billboard. Retrieved October 22, 2014. 
  29. ^ Steffen Hung. "Die Offizielle Schweizer Hitparade und Music Community". Retrieved 2012-11-22. 
  30. ^ Flandez, Raymund (June 9, 2010). "‘Glee’ Season One Finale, ‘Journey:’ TV Recap". The Wall Street Journal. Les Hinton. Retrieved December 2, 2010. 
  31. ^ "Glee is #1 Again" (Press release). PR Newswire. May 26, 2010. Retrieved December 2, 2010. 
  32. ^ "Top 40 Official UK Singles Archive: 26th June 2010". The Official Charts Company. June 26, 2010. Retrieved December 2, 2010. 
  33. ^ "Canadian Hot 100: Week of June 26, 2010 (Biggest Jump)". Billboard. Nielsen Business Media, Inc. June 26, 2010. Retrieved December 2, 2010. 
  34. ^ "Irish Music Charts Archive: Top 50 Singles, Week Ending 17 June 2010". Chart Track. GfK. Retrieved December 2, 2010. 
  35. ^ "The ARIA Report: Week Commencing July 12, 2010" (PDF) (1064). Australian Recording Industry Association. July 12, 2010. Retrieved December 2, 2010. 
  36. ^ "Hot 100: Week of June 26, 2010 (Biggest Jump)". Billboard. Nielsen Business Media, Inc. June 26, 2010. Retrieved December 2, 2010. 
  37. ^ ", le site du Snep". Retrieved 2012-11-22. 
  38. ^ "2011 MTV EMA - News". Retrieved 2012-11-22. 
  39. ^ Steffen Hung. "Schweizer Jahreshitparade 2011". Retrieved 2012-11-22. 
  40. ^ "Ultratop − Goud en Platina – 2013". Ultratop & Hung Medien / 
  41. ^ "Gold-/Platin-Datenbank (Israel Kamakawiwo' Ole; 'Over the Rainbow')" (in German). Bundesverband Musikindustrie. 
  42. ^ "The Official Swiss Charts and Music Community: Awards (Israel Kamakawiwo'ole; 'Over the Rainbow')". Hung Medien. 
  43. ^ "British single certifications – Israel Kamakawiwo'ole – Somewhere over the Rainbow". British Phonographic Industry.  Enter Somewhere over the Rainbow in the field Keywords. Select Title in the field Search by. Select single in the field By Format. Select Silver in the field By Award. Click Search
  44. ^ "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
  45. ^ "Eva Cassidy: Artist Chart History" UK Singles Chart.
  46. ^ a b "Over the Rainbow". 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. 
  47. ^ 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. 
  48. ^ "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. 
  49. ^ a b "Winning Dorothy to release 'Rainbow'". Retrieved 21 May 2010. 
  50. ^ "Danielle Hope ('Over the Rainbow')". Retrieved 27 May 2010. 
  51. ^ "Danielle Hope: Artist Chart History" UK Singles Chart.
  52. ^ "Sony Music Shop 高垣 彩陽・愛の陽【初回生産限定盤】・CD・DVD・ブルーレイ・アーティストグッズ・書籍・雑誌の通販" (in Japanese). Retrieved 2014-10-12. 

External links

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