Actress and singer Judy Garland wearing as Dorothy from director Victor Fleming's film, The Wizard of Oz.
Actress and singer Judy Garland wearing as Dorothy from director Victor Fleming's film, The Wizard of Oz. Wikimedia Commons
When the National Endowment for the Arts and the Recording Industry Association of America made a list of the greatest songs of the 20th century, the tune "Over the Rainbow" came in at the very top. It was written in 1939 for the movie The Wizard of Oz, with words by Yip Harburg and music by Harold Arlen.
The idea was to write a song that would make Judy Garland's character Dorothy come alive; a song that would let us feel what she was feeling and dream what she was dreaming.
As commentator Rob Kapilow says, the composer and lyricist "succeeded beyond anyone's wildest dreams." Kapilow, with Performance Today host Fred Child, explains what makes "Over the Rainbow" so great. He says that a lot of the song's success lies in its emotional landscape, derived from just two deceptively simple notes that travel from Kansas to Oz.