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Over the Rainbow

Over the Rainbow

Selected Composition

 

Harold Arlen, "Over the Rainbow"

 

 

Program Notes

 

On this last day of international Gay Pride Month, I want to feature Judy Garland singing "Over the Rainbow." This song has been a favorite of gay people throughout the world. It inspired the adoption of the rainbow as a symbol for the gay right's movement (perhaps superseding the pink triangle). Of course, many people, not just gays, have hoped one day to "wake up where the clouds are far behind me."

 

Randy Schmidt, who wrote a biography of Judy Garland, Judy Garland on Judy Garland: Interviews and Encounters, claimed that "The Wizard of Oz didn’t just make [Garland] a star, it made her immortal." Garland (1922 - 69) became a gay icon, and to this day she is revered because of her talent, her accomplishments, and her tragic life,

 

Garland appreciated her huge gay audience, and she defended them when it was not just unpopular but dangerous to do so. Schmidt writes that an interviewer in the 1960s asked derisively what she thought about her many homosexual fans. “I’ll be damned if I’ll have my audience mistreated," Garland responded. In 1946, when Garland was just 23, she had this to say about religion and its oppression of gay people: "No one should feel that because he goes to church every Sunday he can do cruel things which people are not ordinarily supposed to do and that God will overlook his bad behavior.”

 

The composer of "Over the Rainbow," Harold Arlen (1905 - 86), wrote more than 500 songs. "Over the Rainbow" was voted the Twentieth Century's no. 1 song by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) and the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA).

 

The Wizard of Oz (1939) is likewise honored with awards. It won two Academy Awards, for Best Song ("Over the Rainbow") and Best Original Score; it was nominated for four more Academy Awards, but lost Best Picture to Gone with the Wind.

 

The Wizard of Oz is one of my personal Top 10 favorite movies. All these decades after it was filmed, it still seems fresh and relevant. It was a huge influence on my first novel Nicoji. Dorothy and Toto become, in fact, characters in my book.

 

Here is a link to the soundtrack from The Wizard of Oz, and to Judy Garland singing "Over the Rainbow":


Judy Garland, "Over the Rainbow"

 

 

Coda

 

In 1989, when I was just coming out (and seven years before I met Drew), I went alone on Halloween night to The Sun Tavern in Salt Lake City. The place was thronged with hundreds of people, gay and straight: everyone but me in costume (or so I thought). Grand Prize for best costumes that night went to a couple dressed as Dorothy and Glinda, the Good Witch of the North. I had never seen such a gorgeous costume as Glinda's! The crowd erupted into cheers and applause when the award was announced, and the couple stepped up onto the stage. The man dressed as Glinda looked like he had just stepped out of The Wizard of Oz: he waved his wand over the crowd and blew kisses. The man dressed as Dorothy (wearing Dorothy's distinctive blue-and-white checked dress, and carrying a picnic basket with Toto in it) was a body-builder: he made a very muscular Dorothy. I congratulated both of them later, and they told me they had spent a year working on their costumes. 

 

I met one other man that night who, like me, wore no costume: Scott Hayes. He was black-haired handsome, blue eyed. We danced together till they closed the tavern. Of course we became boyfriends. 

 

 

 

 

I created "Bifrost," the image above, in 2006. It is based on Mandelbrot fractals. The title is from Norse mythology: Bifrost is the rainbow bridge that links Asgard and Valhalla with Midgard (Earth).

 

 

 

 

 

 

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