[Editor’s Note: The next few blogs will concentrate on songs chosen for our upcoming Americana concert. The San Diego Gay Men’s Chorus’ acclaimed Chamber Chorale brings to life America’s collective musical ancestry with the final performance of Americana today, Sunday, March 5 at 7 p.m. as part of the highly acclaimed Music Series of the First United Methodist Church of San Diego. Tickets at SDGMC.org or at the door.]
“Over the Rainbow”
Few 17-year-old girls could belt out a ballad like Judy Garland. So it was sheer Hollywood magic when she donned her gingham blue apron dress for The Wizard of Oz and imagined life “Over the Rainbow” where troubles melt like lemon drops. Composed by Harold Arlen (“Get Happy,” “Stormy Weather”) with lyrics by E.Y Harburg (“April in Paris”), the song’s wistful longing and swelling chorus has earned it the number one spot on the “Songs of the Century” chart compiled by the Recording Industry Association of America and the National Endowment for the Arts. It also won the Academy Award for best song, although The Wizard of Oz lost for best picture to Gone with the Wind.
Starting around World War II, the song became interwoven with the culture of the emerging gay community with “friends of Dorothy” coming together to find that place where bluebirds fly. Today, “Over the Rainbow” remains an anthem of the LGBT community, most recently sung by the Chorus during the massive vigils following the murder of 49 people at the gay nightclub Pulse in Orlando.