Judy Garland will always be linked to this song -- and she was just fine with that. Uploaded by images2.fanpop.com.
Louis B. Mayer is one of the greatest executives in the history of motion pictures. But he almost made the mistake of his life when he deleted “Over the Rainbow” from The Wizard of Oz following a preview. He said it slowed down the movie, and “Our star sings it in a barnyard.”
Fortunately, he was talked back from the edge, and this song earned the honor as “Song of the Century” in a list compiled by the Recording Industry Association of America and the National Endowment for the Arts. The American Film Institute also named it the greatest movie song of all time.
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Judy Garland will always be linked to her signature song, which she always performed just as it was heard in the film. When asked why she never changed it, she expressed her love for the song and respect for the beauty of its arrangement. Harold Arlen created the melody, while E.Y. Harburg wrote the lyrics.
Even so, “Over the Rainbow” has been covered countless times by a wide variety of artists. Here are a few of my favorites, starting with the original…
This hauntingly beautiful song had French origins, but was adapted to English by American Johnny Mercer. Uploaded by mukurahat.us.
We would share this wonderful classic with Great French Things, were there such a thing, because its melody was written by a French songwriter, Joseph Kosma. American Johnny Mercer gave it English lyrics in 1947.
Johnny Mercer. Uploaded by broadwayworld.com.
Johnny Mercer founded and co-owned Capitol Records. Jo Stafford was under contract to Capitol Records. Therefore, Jo Stafford was the first to record Kosma and Mercer’s beautiful song.
Even though such popular artists as Bing Crosby and Artie Shaw did their own versions, “Autumn Leaves” didn’t really catch on for almost a decade. Then pianist Roger Williams took it to number one – the only piano instrumental ever to reach the top of the charts. From then on it became a jazz standard, brought to life by Duke Ellington, Bill Evans, Coleman Hawkins, Dizzy Gillespie, and Cannonball Adderley.
Most of the jazz versions are, understandably, instrumentals. Until recently, the essential vocal version was performed by Nat King Cole for a movie called – surprise! – Autumn Leaves. But once you’ve heard Eva Cassidy’s unbelievable version, you’ll realize that she now owns this song. OWNS it.
“Les feuilles mortes” (literally “The Dead Leaves”)