Song Spotlight: “Over The Rainbow”

Rainbow piercing through a cloud with a dark background. Words read "1940s popular song"
  • Mood: wistful, dreamy
  • Themes: Rain, Rainbows
  • Tempo: slow
  • Genre/Style: 1940 popular standard

The days are getting longer again and with the peak winter month past, we eagerly await the spring rains and the rainbows gracefully accompany them. In this spotlight we explore “Over the Rainbow,” one of Judy Garland’s top songs. Try out some of the ideas on ways to use and share this dreamy and wistful tune with others.

“Over the Rainbow” was written by Harold Arlen with lyrics by Yip Harburg in 1939. The song was written for the film “The Wizard of Oz.” Surprisingly the song almost did not make it into the film. Upon the first edit, the song was cut due to the director commenting the slowness and elegance of the song did not fit the young girl singing the song in a barnyard. With a push from associate producers the song was reinstated in the film. “Over the Rainbow,” was associated with Garland for the rest of her career and versions of the song have been sung by many other artists and fans alike.

Here are some of the 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

This is a great song to use within a group and would go well with a collection of songs about songs based on rain or rainbows. It can be used as a transition into reminiscence, an opportunity for musical engagement, movement and more! 

Try This:

Theme: This song would fit well into a Rain or Rainbows theme. Other complementary songs may include I’m Always Chasing Rainbows,” “Rainbow Connection,” and “Pocket Full of Rainbows.”

Encourage the group to reminisce by inviting the group to share memories of rainbows. Has anyone seen two rainbows in the sky at the same time? Or seen one from a plane?

Watch the clip of Judy Garland singing this song in the “Wizard of Oz.”

Discussion: Invite the group to discuss what kind of land would be found somewhere over the rainbow. Ask what are the myths and stories surrounding rainbows (like a pot of gold is found at the end of a rainbow).

Musical Engagement: Since this song may be challenging to sing, try handing out bells to group members and shaking bells on the word “Rainbow.”

Movement: You can do expressive movement along with this song. For added motion use scarves to draw a rainbow in the air.


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