No. 235 | May 2, 2011
In my five decades and counting I’ve had the chance to witness quite a bit of history, but tonight I can say that I don’t remember a moment like this. So often the most memorable events are the most tragic—the assassinations of the ’60s, the Oklahoma City bombing, and of course, 9/11. There have been jubilant occasions, too—the Apollo 11 mission to the moon, the fall of the Berlin Wall—but as an occasion of justice and victory, today’s news, though on a smaller scale, feels like something we may not have experienced in the United States since the end of World War II.
Osama bin Laden is dead. The news was shocking when it came—not because we’d given up the effort, but because we’d given up the thought that it would actually happen. Yet now we get to think about it differently. The effort to get bin Laden (not to be mistaken for our multiple missteps along the way) was not a lost cause, after all. Suddenly, so it seems, we got it right.
The past decade has been painful and troubling, filled with more futility and self-doubt than we ever would want to admit. The demise of bin Laden puts an end to one chapter of our recent history. Though time will tell what it means, for the moment it is reason to celebrate.
As I watched the news with my wife, who I met in the weeks following 9/11, and my son, who’s approximately the age that I was watching the events of November 1963, I felt a glimmer of hope that I have not felt in a long, long while. Maybe we can move on now. It’s about time.
Ding Dong! The witch is dead.
Which old witch?
The Wicked Witch!
Ding Dong! The Wicked Witch is dead.
Wake up, sleepy head,
Rub your eyes, get out of bed.
Wake up, the Wicked Witch is dead.
She’s gone where the goblins go,
Below, below, below.
Yo-ho, let’s open up and sing and ring the bells out.
Ding Dong the merry-oh,
Sing it high, sing it low.
Let them know
The Wicked Witch is dead!
The most fitting movie for the occasion, it seems to me, is the most American of movies, The Wizard of Oz. The witch is dead! The nightmare is over. The time to leave the storm cellar has come.
No. 76 | April 16, 2010
Featured this week (theme introduction)
Monday — “Singin’ in the Rain” (1952)
Tuesday — “The Rain in Spain” (1964)
Wednesday — “Purple Rain” (1984)
Thursday — “Raindrops Keep Fallin’ on My Head” (1969)
Our theme this week
“Rain”-y day songs from the movies
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.
Dorothy Gale sings the song in the sepia tones of Kansas, but after the tornado hits, she discovers a rainbow of colors in the land of Oz, a place where “the dreams that you dare to dream / Really do come true.” That lyric is the key to the story of a girl and her dog, but it’s also as good an explanation as any of the appeal that movies held for audiences, especially in Hollywood’s golden age. Few films, if any, were as appealing, as magical, as The Wizard of Oz.
“Over the Rainbow” is a timeless classic, the #1 pick on the AFI’s list of top hundred songs from American movies, and the #1 “Song of the Century” chosen in an education project by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), the National Endowment for the Arts, and Scholastic Inc. Over the years it’s been covered many times, a favorite for generations of singers.
None matches the young Judy Garland. Still in her teens, she was already a seasoned pro, as talented as any singer who ever stepped before the camera. She could act, dance, and do comedy too, and her career was one of the great careers of anyone in movies.
You may think “Over the Rainbow” was a sure thing. After the first preview though, Louis B. Mayer had the song cut from the film. He apparently thought it slowed down the picture. Harold Arlen lobbied to get the song back in, and the rest is history. As William Goldman was saying just yesterday: nobody knows anything.
The Wizard of Oz (1939)
Victor Fleming, director
“Over the Rainbow”
E.Y. (Yip) Harburg, lyrics, Harold Arlen, music