Jazz Play Along Play Jazz Standards! Over the Rainbow, words by E.I. Harburg & Music by Harold Arlen Free sheet music:
Origin of the song
Judy Garland performed ‘Over the Rainbow’ in the movie The Wizard of Oz. The film premiered on August 15, 1939 in Hollywood, and two days later in New York. The song was immediately an enormous success: in less than a month, four versions entered the charts and one of them, the Glenn Miller Orchestra with singer Ray Eberle, stayed at number one for seven weeks.
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Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer had chosen Jerome Kern for the film’s soundtrack, but the composer turned down the offer, as his doctor had prescribed bed rest to recover from a recent heart attack.
The production company also had to settle for second choice for the film’s star, agreeing to Garland only after failing to get Shirley Temple from 20th Century Fox. After several changes to the script (involving more than a dozen writers) and cast, the film was completed in March 1939.
The official director was Victor Fleming, but Mervyn LeRoy and King Vidor collaborated on the work. The film received six Oscar nominations and won Best Original Score (due to Herbert Stothart) and Best Song, ‘Over the Rainbow.’
‘Over the Rainbow’ is a ballad written for the 1939 film The Wizard of Oz, winner of the Academy Award for Best Original Song. The author of the music was Harold Arlen and the author of the lyrics was Yip Harburg. It is, along with ‘Singin’ in the Rain’, one of the most representative songs of American cinema.
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Specially written for Garland, the song would accompany the actress throughout her life: in all her public appearances she was asked to sing it and since her sudden death she has always been associated with it, with the Seventh Art, and its lyrics and melody. They have been a source of inspiration for many.
The song has been considered on numerous occasions one of the greatest of the 20th century, although it is said that at the time it was almost eliminated from the film. In theory, the song slowed down the pace of the film, as most of the music in the film is more energetic, in contrast to this soft melody. Also, the producers originally didn’t want there to be any songs in the black-and-white portion of the film. It has frequent instrumental references to the song throughout the film, including the opening sequence.
Part of the song was removed in the film. There was an additional verse, when Dorothy’s character was locked in a room in the witch’s castle, awaiting her death. A rehearsal recording survived and was included on the tape’s deluxe CD.
Garland wrote about this song to Arlen:
”Over the Rainbow’ has become a part of my life. It symbolizes people’s wishes and dreams so well that I’m sure that’s why people cry when they hear it. I’ve sung it hundreds of times, and it’s still the song closest to my heart.’