I HATED ‘The Wizard of Oz‘ when I was a kid – probably because it seems to be such a mixed message.
Has anybody listened – really listened to the lyrics of this song?
“Somewhere over the rainbow skies are blue, and the dreams that you dare to dream really do come true” – the implication, of course, being that you have to be in a fantasy world for that to happen; the real world will grind all your dreams to dust. This is a song about desperation.
“Someday I’ll wish upon a star,” sing Garland – not in response to the Walt Disney company’s signature song, although this would be a perfect answer to the “everything’ll have a happy ending”-ness of the Disney films.
And, as the book (1,001 Songs You Must Hear Before You Die) points out, the song fits as a metaphor for the life of its best-known singer: “Her whole life… seemed to fit this beautiful little child’s song that had colour and gaiety and beauty and hope… and yet she was so hopeless.”
All of these make ‘Over the Rainbow‘ one of the gold-plated classics of popular music, and a song that should bring a tear to the eye – not from some phony, schmaltzy sentimentality but because we have all tasted the genuine disillusionment that lies behind it.