The song of the day for Wednesday, April 8, 2015 is “Over The Rainbow.”
About This Song
Today’s song, “Over The Rainbow” was written in 1930 by Harold Arlen and Yip Harburg for The Wizard Of Oz. Interestingly, the producers wanted to cut the song from the film, as they felt it slowed downed the movie. Thankfully, the preview audiences preferred the movie with the song. “Over The Rainbow” ranked as the #1 song of the 20th century per the Recording Industry Association of America and the National Endowment of the Arts.The song has always been closely associated with Judy Garland. In a letter to Harold Arlen, Judy Garland wrote that the song “…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.”
About This Version
Tony Bennett has recorded this song twice: first for his 1960 album of Harold Arlen music (Tony Bennett Sings A String of Harold Arlen) and again in 1995 for Here’s To The Ladies, where we find the version we’re featuring today.
Today we celebrate the lyricist of today’s song: Yip Harburg. He was born on April 8, 1898 in New York; his birth name was Isidore Hochberg and he came to known as Edgar Yipsel Harburg. He and Ira Gershwin were classmates in high school and became lifelong friends. Harburg graduated from City College in 1921, married with two children. He owned an electrical appliance company, all the while writing in his spare time. After his business went bankrupt in 1929, he and Ira decided it was time for Harburg to turn to lyric writing. His first major hit song came in 1932 with “Brother, Can You Spare A Dime?”
He was offered a contract with Paramount in Hollywood, and joined the songwriters exodus, where he worked with Harold Arlen, Vernon Duke, Jerome Kern and Jule Styne, among others. His collaboration with Arlen on The Wizard of Oz was a major success, resulting in an Academy Award for Best Music, Original Song for “Over The Rainbow.”
He continued his work on Broadway for productions such as Bloomer Girl (with Arlen) and Finian’s Rainbow (with Burton Lane). Though he was never a member of the Communist Party, Harburg was blacklisted in Hollywood from 1950 until 1962. He died from a heart attack in 1981.
In addition to his Oscar for “Over The Rainbow,” he also won another Oscar, also with Harold Arlen, for Cabin in the Sky and for the song “Can’t Help Singing” with Jerome Kern. He was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1972.
I’ve shared this video before, but it is so lovely that I present it to you again. Happy Birthday, Yip.
“Over The Rainbow,” as well as Here’s To The Ladies, is available from iTunes.