Marti's Theory

Archive for January 2015

wizardofoz5740

The Wizard of Oz was released by MGM in 1939, with music by Harold Arlen and E.Y. Harburg. I know every lyric of every song, and more of the spoken dialog than I’ll admit in public.  “Optimistic Voices” is the name of the short piece that plays when the gang first sees the Emerald City in the distance, and may be my favorite part of my favorite movie.  I love the 1930s style of the tune, and also get a kick out of Ray Bolger (the Scarecrow) looking around puzzled, as though he’s thinking, “Hey, where’s that music coming from?”  Just a tiny throwaway bit, but fun.

But it’s hard to understand the lyrics as sung by the choir in the flick. As many times as I’ve seen that movie (don’t even ask), I didn’t really know what they were singing until someone brought it to my attention a few years ago.  Harburg wrote the lyrics as a sort of as a “code” to an America which had just crawled out of an economic depression and a war. In an effort to find a clip that didn’t have an ad longer than the song, I found something really cool. The audio portion of the first link is actually Arlen and Harburg singing it in rehearsal for the choir to get a feel for it. How cool is that? Nevertheless, my main point of posting this is for the lyrics. Aren’t they great? So very simple…

Here’s the Arlen Harbug clip:
Optimistic Voices Rehearsal

And if you aren’t a movie trivia geek like me, here’s the actual scene from the movie:
Optimistic Voices Choir from the Wizard of Oz

And here are the lyrics.  If you’re still with me, I recommend opening the second clip and reading along while they sing ’em:

You’re out of the woods
You’re out of the dark
You’re out of the night
Step into the sun
Step into the light

Keep straight ahead for the most glorious place
On the face of the earth or the sky
Hold onto your breath
Hold onto your heart
Hold onto your hope
March up to the gate and bid it open

You’re out of the woods
You’re out of the dark
You’re out of the night
Step into the sun
Step into the light
March up to the gate and bid it open, open…

Wishing you all – individually and collectively – sun, light, hope, open gates and glorious places in 2015 and beyond…
xo,
Marti