Words: Yip Harburg; Music: Harold Arlen (1939)

Lyrics

Somewhere over the rainbow
Way up high,
There’s a land that I heard of
Once in a lullaby.

Somewhere over the rainbow
Skies are blue,
And the dreams that you dare to dream
Really do come true.

Someday I’ll wish upon a star
And wake up
Where the clouds are far behind me,
Where troubles melt like lemon drops
Away above the chimney tops,
That’s where you’ll find me.

Somewhere over the rainbow
Bluebirds fly;
Birds fly over the rainbow
Why then, oh why can’t I?

If happy little bluebirds fly
Beyond the rainbow,
Why oh why can’t I?

Background

Without a doubt one of the most important and influential American songs ever written. Originally from the movie musical The Wizard of Oz, where it was sung by the still-teenage Judy Garland, the song has long since transcended its origins, and become one of the most potent and universal expressions of hope in Western culture.

Performances

Here is its original appearance in the movie:

…and here is one of the most powerful performances on record, also by Garland, from her classic 1961 Carnegie Hall concert. By now her life had suffered many tragic twists, and this is reflected in this pathos-ridden rendering.

And here is the Sing-A-long version for listening to and downloading:

Over the Rainbow