Over the Rainbow

This article is about the 1939 song. For other uses, see Over the Rainbow (disambiguation).
"Over the Rainbow"
Song by Judy Garland
Published 1939
Genre Ballad
Composer(s) Harold Arlen
Lyricist(s) E.Y. Harburg

"Over the Rainbow" (often referred to as "Somewhere over the Rainbow") is a ballad, with music by Harold Arlen and lyrics by E.Y. Harburg.[1] It was written for the movie The Wizard of Oz (1939) and was sung by actress Judy Garland, in her starring role as Dorothy Gale.[1] The song won the Academy Award for Best Original Song and became Garland's signature song, as well as 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.

Influence and legacy

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" (1942)) by American troops in Europe in World War II, as a symbol of the United States. Garland performed the song for the troops as part of a 1943 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 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 and was sung at its dinner on June 12, 2014 by Jackie Evancho.[3]

In April 2016, The Daily Telegraph listed the song as number 8 on its list of the 100 greatest songs of all time.[4]

The Wizard of Oz

The "Over the Rainbow" sequence and the entirety of the Kansas scenes were 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 - it's for this sequence that the movie is best known and remembered.[5]

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

"Over the Rainbow" from The Wizard of Oz
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.

On October 7, 1938, Judy Garland first recorded the song on the MGM soundstages, using an arrangement by Murray Cutter.

In September 1939, a studio recording of the song, not from the actual film soundtrack, was recorded and released as a single by Decca Records.

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.[6] The soundtrack version has been re-released several times over the years, including in a "Deluxe Edition" from Rhino Records in 1995.[7]

'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, in a letter to Harold Arlen[8]

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.[9]


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, by Doris Day on her album Hooray For Hollywood (1958) (Vol.1), by Tony Bennett on his album Tony Bennett Sings A String Of Harold Arlen (1961), by Ella Fitzgerald, by Sarah Vaughan, and by Norma Waterson, among others. Garland herself sang the introductory verse only once, on a 1948 radio broadcast of The Louella Parsons Show.[10] Lyrics for a second verse ("Once by a word only lightly spoken…") appear in the British edition of the sheet music.[11]

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 film's 75th anniversary.

International artists

The first German version in English language was recorded by the Swing Orchestra Heinz Wehner in March 1940. Wehner, at this time a well-known German Swing Artist, also took over the vocals.[12] The first German version in German language was sung by Inge Brandenburg in 1960.[13]


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

Other versions

In singles and albums

In films

Israel Kamakawiwoʻole version

"Somewhere over the Rainbow/What a Wonderful World"
Single by Israel Kamakawiwoʻole
from the album Facing Future
Released 1993
Format CD single
Recorded 1988
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).[17] 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. 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.[18] 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.[18] It stayed 12 non-consecutive weeks at the top spot and was the most successful single in Germany in 2010.[19] As of March 2012, it's the 2nd best-selling download ever in Germany with digital sales between 500,000 and 600,000.[20][21] In France, the song debuted at #4 in December 2010 and reached number one.[22] In the USA, the song was certified Platinum for 1,000,000 downloads sold.[23] To date the song has sold over 4.2 million digital copies as of October 2014.[24] In Switzerland, the song received Platinum, too, for 30,000 copies sold.[25]

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.[26][27][28][29][30][31][32] 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." [33]

Celtic Woman

The Celtic Woman: A New Journey's version is sung by Chloë Agnew, Órla Fallon, Méav Ní Mhaolchatha, Hayley Westenra

The Celtic Woman: Songs from the Heart is sung by Chloë Agnew, Lisa Kelly, Lisa Lambe, Máiréad Nesbitt

The German version

~Wenn Du In Meinen Träumen Bei Mir Bist
Wenn du in meinen Träumen bei mir bist
Träum' ich von jenen Stunden die man nie mehr vergisst
Denn nur in meinen Träumen fühle ich
Du bist Sinn meines Lebens, was wär' ich ohne dich
Man kann dem Schicksal nicht entgeh'n
Es hat zum Glück uns ausersehnt, verzag nicht
Ein Mal erreicht es auch uns zwei
Dann ist die Einsamkein vorbei
Glaub' mir und frag' nicht
Man kann dem Schicksal nicht entgeh'n
Es hat zum Glück uns ausersehnt, verzag nicht
Ein Mal erreicht es auch uns zwei
Dann ist die Einsamkein vorbei
Glaub' mir und frag' nicht
Wenn du in meinen Träumen bei mir bist
Weiß ich dass wir uns lieben, fühlst du wie schön das ist
Denn nur in meinen Träumen fühle ich
Du bist Sinn meines Lebens, was wär' ich ohne dich

Year-end charts

Chart (2010) Position
German Singles Chart[34] 1
Chart (2011) Position
French Singles Chart[35] 1
German Singles Chart[36] 37
Swiss Singles Chart[37] 16


Sales and certifications

Region Certification Certified units/Sales
Belgium (BEA)[38] Platinum 30,000*
Germany (BVMI)[39] 2× Platinum 600,000^
Switzerland (IFPI Switzerland)[40] 2× Platinum 60,000^
United Kingdom (BPI)[41] Silver 200,000^
United States (RIAA)[42] Platinum 4,200,000[24]
Total available sales: 5,090,000

*sales figures based on certification alone
^shipments figures based on certification alone


Eva Cassidy version

"Over the Rainbow"
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

Chart (2001) Peak
UK Singles (Official Charts Company)[43] 42

Danielle Hope version

"Over the Rainbow"
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.[44] 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.[44]

The single was a charity record, raising money for both the BBC Performing Arts Fund and Prostate UK.[45]

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

Chart (2010) Peak
UK Singles (Official Charts Company)[46] 29

See also


  1. 1 2 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 (June 13, 2014). "Songwriters gala links old and new with a 'Rainbow'". USA Today.
  4. "100 greatest songs of all time".
  5. "The Movie - Post-Production and Premiere - OzWiki". Thewizardofoz.info. Retrieved 2012-11-22.
  6. "The Wizard of Oz Soundtracks (MGM label)". The Judy Room.
  7. "The Wizard of Oz (Rhino Movie Music label)". The Judy Room.
  8. The Wonderful World of Oz Documentary - The Wizard of Oz (3-Disc Collector's Edition DVD, 2005).
  9. Garland, Judy. "The Wizard of Oz (Decca label)". The Judy Room.
  10. Scott Brogan. "Judy Garland MP3's". Thejudyroom.com. Retrieved 2012-11-22.
  11. Over the Rainbow. London: Francis, Day, & Hunter, Ltd.
  12. Over the Rainbow, Swing-Orchester Heinz Wehner, engl. Refraingesang Heinz Wehner, Telefunken A 10101, Matrizennummer 24836, recorded March 23, 1940
  13. Wenn Du in meinen Träumen (Over The Rainbow), Inge Brandenburg mit dem NDR-Tanzorchester, recorded November 2, 1960
  14. Milosheff, Peter (March 24, 2010). "The Demensions, White Doo Wop From The Bronx". The Bronx Times.
  15. Pop Archives accessed June 7, 2010.
  16. "The Billboard Hot 100 Week of December 22, 2012". Billboard. Prometheus Global Media. Retrieved 14 December 2012.
  17. Billboard, page 65 (7 February 2004).
  18. 1 2 "Gold-/Platin-Datenbank ('Over the Rainbow')" (in German). Bundesverband Musikindustrie.
  19. "Musik-Jahrescharts: "Sanfter Riese" und der Graf setzen sich durch - media control". Media-control.de. Retrieved 2012-11-22.
  20. ""Poker Face" knackt 500.000er-Download-Marke - media control". Media-control.de. Retrieved 2012-11-22.
  21. "600.000 Verkäufe: Michel Teló legt Download-Rekord hin - media control". Media-control.de. 2012-03-30. Retrieved 2012-11-22.
  22. musicline.de
  23. "Gold & Platinum Searchable Database - November 22, 2012". RIAA. Retrieved 2012-11-22.
  24. 1 2 Gary Trust (October 21, 2014). "Ask Billboard: The Weird Connections Between Mary Lambert". Billboard. Retrieved October 22, 2014.
  25. Steffen Hung. "Die Offizielle Schweizer Hitparade und Music Community". Hitparade.ch. Retrieved 2012-11-22.
  26. Flandez, Raymund (June 9, 2010). "'Glee' Season One Finale, 'Journey:' TV Recap". The Wall Street Journal. Les Hinton. Retrieved December 2, 2010.
  27. "Glee is #1 Again" (Press release). PR Newswire. May 26, 2010. Retrieved December 2, 2010.
  28. "Top 40 Official UK Singles Archive: 26th June 2010". The Official Charts Company. June 26, 2010. Retrieved December 2, 2010.
  29. "Canadian Hot 100: Week of June 26, 2010 (Biggest Jump)". Billboard. Nielsen Business Media, Inc. June 26, 2010. Retrieved December 2, 2010.
  30. "Irish Music Charts Archive: Top 50 Singles, Week Ending 17 June 2010". Chart Track. GfK. Retrieved December 2, 2010.
  31. "The ARIA Report: Week Commencing July 12, 2010" (PDF) (1064). Australian Recording Industry Association. July 12, 2010. Retrieved December 2, 2010.
  32. "Hot 100: Week of June 26, 2010 (Biggest Jump)". Billboard. Nielsen Business Media, Inc. June 26, 2010. Retrieved December 2, 2010.
  33. "Israel Kamakawiwo'ole: The Voice Of Hawaii". 50 Great Voices. NPR. 6 December 2010. Archived from the original on 9 March 2011. Retrieved 16 December 2015. 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.
  34. "Offizielle Deutsche Charts".
  35. "Snepmusique.com, le site du Snep". Disqueenfrance.com. Retrieved 2012-11-22.
  36. "2011 MTV EMA - News". MTV.de. Retrieved 2012-11-22.
  37. Steffen Hung. "Schweizer Jahreshitparade 2011". hitparade.ch. Retrieved 2012-11-22.
  38. "Ultratop − Goud en Platina – 2013". Ultratop & Hung Medien / hitparade.ch.
  39. "Gold-/Platin-Datenbank (Israel Kamakawiwo' Ole; 'Over the Rainbow')" (in German). Bundesverband Musikindustrie.
  40. "The Official Swiss Charts and Music Community: Awards (Israel Kamakawiwo'ole; 'Over the Rainbow')". IFPI Switzerland. Hung Medien.
  41. "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
  42. "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
  43. "Eva Cassidy: Artist Chart History" Official Charts Company.
  44. 1 2 "Winning Dorothy to release 'Rainbow'". Retrieved 21 May 2010.
  45. "Danielle Hope ('Over the Rainbow')". Retrieved 27 May 2010.
  46. "Danielle Hope: Artist Chart History" Official Charts Company.

External links

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