Song of the Day #4,438: ‘Somewhere Over the Rainbow’ – Judy Garland

Continuing my personal ranking of the 25 movie musicals deemed essential by the American Film Institute…

#15. The Wizard of Oz – 1939
(#3 on the AFI list)

The Wizard of Oz is probably the most famous and beloved film on this list, a classic family entertainment that has been watched and treasured by multiple generations.

Watching it for what must have been the first time all the way through since I was a child, its most famous scenes felt instantly familiar. In fact, it was difficult to appreciate it as a cohesive movie rather than a collection of classic pop culture moments.

It was also surreal to watch 16-year-old Judy Garland in her most iconic role and a week later see the 32-year-old Garland, struggling with her weight and substance abuse, in A Star is Born. I think if I’d watched them in the other order, this film would have been even more poignant.

I mentioned earlier in the week that a list of the best moments from these 25 musicals would include two scenes from Moulin Rouge. Well, that list would also include today’s SOTD, Garland’s signature song and The Wizard of Oz‘s loveliest moment.

Incredibly, ‘Somewhere Over the Rainbow’ was nearly cut from the film when the studio was trying to cut 15 minutes from the initial two hour runtime. Sanity prevailed, and the tune went on to win Best Song at the Oscars. The Wizard of Oz also won Best Score, and was nominated for its special effects and art direction, as well as for Best Picture.

Garland won an honorary ‘Juvenile Award’ Oscar for the film, the only Academy Award she would ever receive.

[Verse 1]
Somewhere over the rainbow
Way up high
There’s a land that I heard of
Once in a lullaby

Somewhere over the rainbow
Skies are blue
And the dreams that you dare to dream
Really do come true

Someday I’ll wish upon a star
And wake up where the clouds are far
Behind me
Where troubles melt like lemon drops
Away above the chimney tops
That’s where you’ll find me

[Verse 2]
Somewhere over the rainbow
Bluebirds fly
Birds fly over the rainbow
Why then, oh why can’t I?

If happy little bluebirds fly
Beyond the rainbow
Why, oh why can’t I?

3 thoughts on “Song of the Day #4,438: ‘Somewhere Over the Rainbow’ – Judy Garland

  1. Dana Gallup says:

    I haven’t seen this film in decades, but it was an annual tradition watching it on CBS during much my childhood. This is one I would love to see on the big screen while they are running “classic” movies ahead of the new releases as theaters reopen.

  2. Peg says:

    Love this movie and this song. I always remember waiting for the moment in the film to go from black and white to technicolor. It was a real wow moment for me.

  3. Amy says:

    This film would surely be even higher on my list just for the ripple effect it has had on musical theater. It’s difficult for me to watch Ray Bolger’s Scarecrow and not also think of Michael Jackson in “The Wiz.” And I’m not sure how anyone who has seen “Wicked” can look at Elphaba and Glinda (bad and good witches though they may be) without a newfound curiosity and understanding. Still, it is a perfect gem all on its own, working as a fantasy or a psychological portrait of fear and family. Any way you slice it, watching the black and white screen expand in a bright technicolor overload gives me goosebumps every time. I know you don’t love biopics, but you should really watch Renee Zelwegger’s portrayal of Judy, as you’ll be especially intrigued by her memories of the time on the Wizard of Oz set.

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