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"Over The Rainbow"
Music by Harold Arlen
Lyrics by E.Y. Harburg
Published 1939
Language English
Original artist Judy Garland
Recorded by See Covers

"Over the Rainbow" (often referred to as "Somewhere over the Rainbow") is a classic ballad song with music by Harold Arlen and lyrics by E.Y. Harburg. It was written for the movie The Wizard of Oz, and was sung by Judy Garland in that movie. Over time it would become Garland's signature song.

In the film, part of the song is played by the MGM orchestra over the opening credits. About 5 minutes later, Garland, in the role of Dorothy Gale, sings Over the Rainbow after unsuccessfully trying to get her aunt and uncle to listen to her regarding an unpleasant incident involving Dorothy's dog Toto and the nasty spinster Miss Gulch, whom Toto bit after she struck him with a rake. Dorothy's Aunt Em tells her to "find a place where you won't get yourself into any trouble", prompting the girl to walk off by herself and sing 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 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.

Ella Fitzgerald included her rendition of this song on the 1961 Verve double-album "Ella Fitzgerald Sings the Harold Arlen Songbook".

In the action/drama Face/Off, directed by John Woo and starring Nicolas Cage and John Travolta, a little boy listens to music in his headphones in the middle of a major gun battle between terrorists and FBI agents: machine-guns are blazing, people are being killed, destruction is everywhere and he, the object of wide-eyed innocence, just listens to "Over The Rainbow" as performed by Olivia Newton-John.

The Wizard of Oz

The song was deleted from the film after a preview, because MGM chief executive Louis B. Mayer thought the song "slowed down the picture" and that "our star sings it in a barnyard". Harold Arlen, who was at the preview, and associate producer Arthur Freed lobbied successfully to get the song sequence reinstated.[citation needed]

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 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 Auntie 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 laugh.

Original Garland recordings

Judy Garland first pre-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 reissued as a single-record 33 1/3 RPM LP. Garland always 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.[1]

It was not until 1956, when MGM released the first 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.[2] The soundtrack version has been re-released several times over the years, including in a "Deluxe Edition" from Rhino Records in 1995.[3]

At the time of Garland's original release hers was initially not the most commonly played version in jukeboxes, where versions by dance bands such as Bob Crosby and Glenn Miller's predominated.[citation needed]

A single chorus of the song (instrumental) is also played in the 1940 movie Third Finger, Left Hand staring Myrna Loy and Melvyn Douglas.


The verse was not used in the movie, nor was there ever any intention of using it; but it is often used in theatrical productions of The Wizard of Oz. Judy Garland herself sang the introductory verse once on the radio during the War.

The lyrics to the verse are as follows:

When all the world is a hopeless jumble
And the raindrops tumble all around,
Heaven opens a magic lane
When all the clouds darken up the skyway,
There's a rainbow highway to be found
Leading from your window pane
To a place behind the sun,
Just a step beyond the rain

Deleted Portion

The second chorus is used occasionally in theatrical productions, but remains largely unknown. The only time the second chorus lyrics have been recorded, aside from Garland's original, was for The Wizard of Oz In Concert, where it was performed by singer/songwriter Jewel.[4] In 2009, Jewel recorded a studio version of the song including the new lyrics for her album, "Lullaby".

The short reprise, deleted from the final cut of the film, uses the melody of the bridge (or "B" section).

Someday I'll wake and rub my eyes
And in that land beyond the skies,
You'll find me
I'll be a laughing daffodil
And leave the silly cares that fill
My mind behind me


Cover versions

Uses in the media

  • In 2007 The Blanks (Also known As Ted's Band or The Worthless Peons) covered "Over The Rainbow" which appeared in Scrubs season 5, episode 7, entitled "My Way Home". The version they sang is a cover by Israel Kamakawiwo'ole.
  • The arcade game Rainbow Islands: The Story of Bubble Bobble 2, features in-game music reminiscent of "Over the rainbow". This music is changed in western versions of the game.
  • In The Grim Adventures of Billy & Mandy episode "My Fair Mandy", Mandy is seen at one point in the beauty pagaent singing "Over the rainbow" whilst riding a pretend hot air balloon.


See also

External links

Preceded by
"Thanks for the Memory" from The Big Broadcast of 1938
Academy Award for Best Original Song
Succeeded by
"When You Wish upon a Star" from Pinocchio


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