The other night, after we had returned home from my teenage children’s high school production of The Wizard of Oz, I played for my parents my favorite version of the song “Somewhere over the Rainbow.” It is not, as you might have guessed if you know me or if you’re a regular reader of the blog, the Judy Garland version.
I don’t dislike Judy Garland’s version. But it doesn’t mean very much to me. Instead, I prefer the song as sung by the German experimental musician Blixa Bargeld. My mother was not impressed. “Who told him he could sing?” she asked.
Oh well, I didn’t really expect her to be all that impressed. But I got to thinking about it: why does this particular version of the song (from Bargeld’s 1995 release Commissioned Music – music for a number of theatre plays) mean more to me than the standard as sung by Judy Garland?
The answer is easy enough: I’m not a dewy ingénue; I’m a 41 year old man who has become somewhat cynical (I’m not as cynical as I could be, but I’m trying), someone who fears that he is becoming embittered and nihilistic. I’ve been around and around, beaten and shaken down. But I still hope (or try to hope) to find that land that I heard of, once in a lullaby. I still hope that it exists. I still dare to dream (or dare to try to dream...)
So if my favorite version of the ballad has more dissonance than saccharine, you’ll understand why.