Ever since I saw the movie “The Wizard of Oz” I was ready to head off to Munchkin land. Why? You probably want to know. Well if you remember it was such a colorful and sunny land. All those darling munchkins and they all sang and danced. I would probably open up a diner for them and live happily ever after away from this crazy and weird world. After all if I get a bit board I can always head off to the Emerald City for some entertainment. They do have that interesting horse of a different color there. The words and music for this wonderful and delightful movie were by E.Y. “Yip” Harburg and Harold Arlen. The movie had its world premiere in Oconomowoc, Wisconsin on August 12, 1939.
All of the lovable characters and happenings in “The Wizard of Oz” came from the children’s book by Frank Baum “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz”. I admire a writer who can take you from an ordinary world and place you in the middle of Munchkin Land and from there on to the Emerald City. So many adventures in between and I remember when I first saw this movie on TV I had nightmares about that Wicked Witch of the West especially since I knew quite a few ladies that fit that bill and I wasn’t sure which one might get me. For anyone who has experienced a tornado and survived has realized that you don’t get transported out of Kansas and if you were caught up in a tornado you could only pray for your life. However it is much more delightful to think that you could ride on top of a tornado and land in a sunny and completely different world far away from your present troubles.
It all begins with a Kansas farm girl named Dorothy and her dog Toto. Of her three companions on the way to the Emerald City the brainless Scarecrow, the Tin Man that had no heart and the cowardly Lion. My first favorite was the scarecrow. I guess I associated more with him because I was still going to school and sometimes I felt pretty brainless myself. That Wicked Witch of the West made me want to smack her right in the face with a frying pan every time she made that annoying and horrid cackle of hers. I was doing cartwheels by the time Dorothy melted her. Frank Baum’s “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz” was first published in 1900 and finally made into a movie and set to music in 1939.
Before this movie lyricist Yip Harburg was known for such songs as “Brother, Can You Spare a Dime” and “It’s Only a Paper Moon”. Harold Arlen was credited for “Get Happy” and “Stormy Weather”. The team of Harburg and Arlen first got together for the Broadway musical “Hooray for What!” in 1937. What really made “The Wizard of Oz” a wonderful success of course was the magical singing voice of Judy Garland as Dorothy. Everyone fell in love with the marvelous song “Over the Rainbow” and it won the 1940 Oscar for Best Song. It later became known as the number one song on the Songs of the Century list which was made up in 2001 by the Recording Industry Association of America and the National Endowment for the Arts.
Off to See the Wizard
The Lollipop Guild
Lots of other delightful and memorable songs also came from the movie like “If I Only Had a Brain”, The Munchkin song “The Lollipop Guild” and of course, the memorable “We’re Off to See the Wizard”. I was even astounded hearing on the radio here in Riga, Latvia that this song “Over the Rainbow” has been translated and was sung in Latvian.