Saturday, 30 August 2014

The Musical Legacy of Oz

The most lasting legacy from the musical score of “The Wizard of Oz” is the song “Over the Rainbow”. The song became such an overnight favourite that people are still recording their own versions of the song today.

To the lgbt community the rainbow gained significance with the gradual adoption of the Rainbow Pride flag. It is often assumed that the song inspired the flag. Gilbert Baker, the flag’s creator, has put it on record that he didn’t have “Over the Rainbow” or “The Wizard of Oz” in mind when he made his first flags in 1978.

The film itself has also left a legacy. Many remakes, reboots, re-imaginings, sequels, prequels and parodies have been made. Many times new songs and new music has been written. Perhaps the most famous song inspired by Oz actually doesn’t come from any of them. Elton John’s song “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road” is the title track form his 1973 album. The album was reissued earlier this year.

Instead of going into a list of music by lgbt and straight artists inspired by “The Wizard of Oz” here’s three videos illustrating 3 different ways in which that inspiration saw light.

First is “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road” itself, representing the many songs that have no Oz connection other than being the source of inspiration.

Secondly is a song from a “remake” of the film, a re-imagining from the 1980s tv series “Fame” (the grown-up version of “Twee” – sorry, “Glee”).

Lastly, a song from a re-imagining of sorts, “Wicked”. This musical, written by Stephen Schwartz, and based on a novel by the gay writer Gregory Maguire, tells the story from the viewpoint of the Wicked Witch of the West. I’ve chosen one of the more well-known songs from the show, as performed at the 2006 Tony Awards.


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