1960 Demensions – Over The Rainbow
One of the most beloved songs of all time scarcely spent any time on the modern music charts.
We are all familiar with Over The Rainbow, although you likely think the title is more like the first line, Somewhere Over The Rainbow. E.Y. Harburg and Harold Arlen wrote the song for the 1939 film The Wizard of Oz. Harold composed the music for over 500 songs including That Old Black Magic and One for My Baby (and One More for the Road). E.Y. wrote the lyrics and also gave us songs with social messages and the book for Finian’s Rainbow.
Judy Garland recorded the song for the film’s soundtrack during filming in October 1938. The song easily won the Academy Award for Best Original Song and it became permanently associated with Judy.
Once the film came out the next year, the song proved so popular that they created a new recording in September 1939 that they released as a single. Glenn Miller also released a single version of the song that reached the top of the charts in 1939.
The version of the song from the film remained unavailable to the general public until the film reached television in 1956.
The first time the song actually charted after that came from an otherwise unknown group doo-wop group from the Bronx: The Demensions. They recorded a version of the song that Cousin Brucie began playing on New York City powerhouse radio station WABC. The single reached the national charts in July 1960 and peaked at #16 in September.
The group appeared on multiple television shows and recorded additional music, but their only other chart appearance came when My Foolish Heart reached #95 on the Hot 100 in 1963.
While many other artists have recorded the song, only one other version of the song reached the Hot 100 in the US. Gary Tanner included the introductory verse in his single that artists usually cut out of most other versions. He took the song to #69 in 1978. He then promptly vanished.
Israel Kamakawiwoʻole recorded a mashup of Somewhere Over the Rainbow/What a Wonderful World in 2004. Countless films and television shows have licensed and used his version. Even more impressive, he’s sold over 4 million copies!
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