Thursday, June 10, 2010
When the villainous Recording Industry Association of America and equivalently virtuous National Endowment for the Arts teamed up to select their Songs of the Century in 2001, Over the Rainbow topped the list; the ballad also made the top spot in the AFI's 100 Years...100 Songs in 2004.
Not bad for a song that has long been embraced as probably the first gay anthem... Yet clearly part of the song's enduring appeal is that it speaks to a wide variety of people in a wide variety of situations; it gives hope to the downtrodden, expresses thanks for those who've been uplifted, and its relatively simple lyrics express entirely complex emotions.
With music by Harold Arlen and lyrics by E.Y. Harburg, the song was (of course) made famous by Judy Garland in the 1939 film The Wizard of Oz - from whence this clip is derived - yet it almost didn't make the cut. MGM studio head Louis B. Mayer thought the song slowed the picture down*. Fortunately, cooler (and more astute) heads prevailed; composer Arlen and producer Arthur Freed were able to convince him to leave the song in the picture.
The rest, as they say, is pop culture...
*Which just goes to show you what studio executives know...
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