Harold Arlen

Somewhere Over the Rainbow (for the film The Wizard of Oz)

    Description by James Leonard

    Harold Arlen and his lyricist Yip Harburg were hired to write the songs for the MGM movie musical The Wizard of Oz in July 1938 and given two months to complete their work. The first three songs -- "We're Off to See the Wizard," "The Merry Old Land of Oz," and "Ding! Dong! The Witch Is Dead" -- came quickly, but Arlen felt the score needed a big ballad. "I felt we needed something with a sweep, a melody with a broad, long, line." The melody for the refrain came to him while he and his wife were driving down Sunset Boulevard to see a movie at Grauman's Chinese Theater. As he later said, "It was as if the Lord said, 'Well, here it is, now stop worrying about it!'" Arlen wrote the bridge the next day and then showed it to Harburg, who was less impressed. He thought it was simply too big and too grand for a teenage girl from Kansas. But after consulting with Ira Gershwin, Harburg changed his mind and gave Arlen's song its title and its lyrics. The song won an Academy Award for Best Song that year and went on to become the theme song for singer Judy Garland, who, of course, was the teenage girl from Kansas in the movie. The song itself starts with an octave leap, a leap that embodies the hopes of all people who long for a happiness that can never be theirs, and slowly, phrase after phrase, it descends back down to the tonic through harmonies that start in the major but turn more and more to the minor. The bridge has a simple tune of seconds and thirds with a rising phrase at the end over harmonies both major and minor and closes on the dominant for the return of the verse. The coda rises to the top of the singer's range, literally rising over the rainbow to close on the eternal question "why can't I?"

    Appears On

    Year Title Label Catalog #
    2018 ABC Classics
    2018 BIS 2428
    2018 ABC Classics
    2018 Moody Classics / Tadlow Classics MCGAHON 02
    2017 ABC Classics
    2017 Carus 83484
    2017 Warner Classics 0190295888329
    2016 ABC Classics
    2016 Sono Luminus DSL 92207
    2016 A Life of Music Records
    2016 Signum Classics SIGCD 449
    2015 MSR Classics MS 1559
    2015 Antes Edition BM 319295
    2015 Erato 551696
    2015 Erato 5054196363956
    2015 Stone Records 8056
    2015 ABC Classics 4811627
    2014 ABC Classics ABC 4811317
    2014 Decca
    2014 Denon Records
    2014 Denon Records
    2014 Erato 547415
    2014 Decca 4820231
    2014 SLG Records
    2014 Varèse Sarabande
    2013 ABC Classics 4810619
    2013 Erato / Virgin Classics 5099960266
    2013 Genuin GEN 13544
    2013 Deutsche Grammophon
    2013 Decca / Deutsche Grammophon 4791482
    2013 Shadow Mountain Records
    2013 Connector / Timba 598802
    2013 C Major Entertainment / Major 713304
    2013 C Major Entertainment / Major 713208
    2013 Oboe Classics CC 2026
    2013 ABC Classics ABC 5346759
    2012 CD Baby / Greater Richmond Children's Choir 5637952426
    2012 EMI / EMI Classics / Warner Classics 5099932737523
    2012 Analekta 28733
    2012 Analekta AN 28736
    2012 Cafe Musica
    2012 EMI Classics / Warner Classics 5099932785
    2012 USM Media USMMTCD 029
    2012 Decca 4765153
    2012 Decca
    2012 USM Media USMMTCD 026
    2012 Shadow Mountain Records 587800
    2012 Premium Records PR 27824XRCD
    2011 Erato / Virgin 5099962866
    2011 Greatest Ever / Union Square Music 42
    2011 ZYX / ZYX Music 56028
    2011 Sony Music Distribution
    2011 K2B2 Records / K2B2 Records 3869
    2011 Naïve DC 510503
    2011 Classic FM CFMD 20
    2011 Decca / Spectrum Audio SPEC 2064
    2010 Silva Screen 1013282SC
    2010 Mormon Tabernacle 5038092
    2010 BIS BIS-CD-1875
    2010 Music & Melody MUS 810732
    2010 Opening Day Recordings 9381
    2010 Longhorn Music 2010002
    2010 Somerset Entertainment 51051
    2010 Delta Distribution / Delta Leisure Group / Music Digital 60357
    2010 Guild Light Music 5169
    2010 Ondine 1171
    2010 Philips
    2009 Naïve V 5186
    2009 M&M 4010
    2009 Decca / UCJ 4763110
    2009 Jay Productions Ltd. / Jay Records CDJAY 1406
    2009 Union Square Music / Simply SIMPLYCD 205
    2009 Koch International Classics KICCD7762
    2009 EMI Music Distribution 98385
    2009 Philips
    2008 Denon Classics / Denon Records / Universal Distribution 17698
    2008 Denon Records 17709
    2008 EMI Music Distribution 9514368
    2008 ZYX Music / ZYX/Ayia 556182
    2008 Warner Music / WEA International 429817
    2008 Eroica Classical Recordings / Eroica Distribution JDT3405
    2008 Acrobat Music ACMCD 4233
    2008 Wergo 6709
    2008 Clarinet Classics 53
    2008 Universal Distribution 4800849
    2008 Madacy / Madacy Entertainment 53969
    2008 Decca / UMC / Universal 5311451
    2008 Troubadour 1018
    2008 Musicaphon 56905
    2007 Philips 530361
    2007 Farol 71713
    2007 EMI Classics 387 364-2
    2007 UCJ / Universal Distribution 4763067
    2007 Centaur Records 2771
    2007 Fine & Mellow FM 601
    2007 Deca Dance (UK) / Decadance UK Recordings Ltd 7500992
    2006 MSI Music Distribution / BMG / Sony Music Distribution / Syco Music 88697019802
    2006 Oehms 534
    2006 DJ's Choice 2426
    2006 SFGMC 1105
    2006 Melba Recordings 301088
    2006 Gallo 1188
    2006 DRG DRGCD 19078
    2006 Rhino 73192
    2006 Sony Music Distribution 80317
    2006 Guild Light Music 5124
    2005 Pro Organo 7195
    2005 Spectrum Music / Universal/Spectrum 9817833
    2005 Centaur Records 2741
    2005 Decca 4763110
    2005 UCJ / Marks & Spencer / Universal International 4763063
    2005 St. Clair 12362
    2005 Dutton Vocalion / Vocalion 4255
    2005 Oboe Classics 2010
    2005 Summit Records 432
    2005 Denon Records 17576
    2005 Denon Records 17570
    2005 Rajon Entertainment Pty Ltd. 384
    2005 Nosag Records 095
    2005 Psallite 6047
    2004 Invisible Touch CD 008
    2004 Reader's Digest Music 4017
    2004 EMI Classics / EMI Music Distribution 4767282
    2004 Polydor 9868113
    2003 Summit Records 353
    2003 Fynsworth Alley 062196
    2003 Acrobat Music / Fabulous FABCD236
    2003 Deca Dance (UK) 13
    2003 Bad Art Records / Blue Adagio 1
    2002 Ondine 994
    2002 Aca Digital 20075
    2002 Collectors' Choice Music CCM 10232
    2002 Union Square Music 6
    2002 EMI Music Distribution 57268
    2001 Dux Records 125
    2001 Pro Organo 7080
    2001 Rhino / WEA Internation 41215
    2001 BGMC / Boston Gay Men's Choir 3
    2001 Hollywood 162348
    2000 Doyen 098
    2000 Exit Nine/NYC 9002
    2000 Bajka Music / Orchard 7225
    2000 EMI Classics / EMI Music Distribution 57045
    2000 St. Clair 41992
    1999 Nansue3 1740
    1999 La Ma De Guido 51
    1999 Varèse Sarabande / Varese 6015
    1999 Varèse Sarabande 6015
    1998 Herald Records 218
    1998 Varèse Sarabande
    1997 Flapper / Pavilion Records 7095
    1996 Turner Classic Movies Music / Rhino 72463
    1996 Turner Classic Movies Music / Rhino 72463
    1995 Telarc Distribution 80366
    1995 Erato MDK48294
    1995 Reader's Digest Music 179
    1995 Saydisc 392
    1995 Rondo Grammofon 8326
    1994 Sony Music Distribution 64304
    1994 SCL / Sony Classical 64304
    1994 MusicMasters 65120
    1994 Concert Gold / Intersound 3651
    1994 Madacy 4643
    1993 Publishers Clearing House 5093/5095
    1991 Angel Records / EMI Music Distribution 69542
    1991 EMI Classics / Angel Records CDC-54190
    1991 Atlantic 82257
    1989 Philips
    1989 Philips 4110372
    RCA 61326
    Doyen 77
    EMI / EMI Music Distribution 3410172
    Drew Tretick / Tretick, Drew 647667000525
    Cema 17727
    Marcelo Galliano 7103
    Phyllis Hoffman 38
    Atlantic 82257
    Joker 22162
    ABC Classics 4810378
    Musidisc 112152
    BBBC
    Hanan Harchol 71082
    Golden Stars GSS 5607
    Cuyahoga Valley Brass 001
    12 Street Music 000
    12 Street 4222
    Pro-Arte Records 547
    Heartland Productions, Inc. 3299
    Turtle Creek Chorale
    Chandos 8645
    Decca 441938
    Metajoy
    Reader's Digest Music 095
    Turner Classic Movies 1997
    Denon Records 17774
    Baltic Records Group 202