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Music – 1978 – Willie Nelson – Somewhere Over the Rainbow


There have been so many great musical artists who have performed Somewhere Over the Rainbow….as this ballad with music by Harold Arien and lyrics by Yip Harburg….was written originally for the movie The Wizard of Oz….where it was sung by actress Judy Garland….in her starring role as Dorothy Gale….but this rendition by Willie Nelson with just his guitar and his voice is really something special. 

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….as the American Film Institute also ranked the song the greatest movie song of all time on the list of “AFI’s 100 Years…100 Songs”.  

The very first artist to record the song was actually big band singer Bea Wain…..who at the time was a featured vocalist with the Larry Clinton Orchestra….but MGM prohibited release of this version until The Wizard of Oz (1939) had opened and audiences heard Judy Garland perform it.  

It was adopted (along with Irving Berlin’s 1942 hit “White Christmas”) by American troops in Europe in World War II, as a symbol of the United States.  

In April 2005, the United States Postal Service issued a commemorative stamp recognizing lyricist Yip Harburg’s accomplishments….as it features the opening lyric from the song….and 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.  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.  In April 2016, The Daily Telegraph listed the song as number 8 on its list of the 100 greatest songs of all time….and in March 2017, Garland’s original rendition of the song was selected for preservation in the National Recording Registry by the Library of Congress as being “culturally, historically, or artistically significant”

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