Judy Garland Wears Red, Hates Bourgeoisie

We don’t know about you kids, but we wake up singing! You know, because we’re gay and gay people sing, like, all the time.

Okay, we don’t wake up singing. On the contrary, we typically wake up grumbling, but that’s not the point. So, what is the point? Good question.

Anyway, we were conducting our typical search of all things gay and came across this fairly entertaining dissection of some homo-inclined songs from South Africa’s Independent. In it, the journos Terry Kirby and Richard Smith decide whether some classic “gay” songs were, in fact, written to be gay or if they’ve been adopted by the homos. Of course, it wouldn’t be a list of fag-anthems without a bit of Judy Garland, right?

[Song:] Over the Rainbow, sung by Judy Garland, written by Ey Harburg . From The Wizard of Oz, released in 1938. Intentional or adopted? Adopted, as Garland’s personal tragedies mounted.

The story of the song: with lyrics epitomising the hopes and dreams of a young girl, it became a classic.

Lyrics: “Somewhere over the rainbow Bluebirds fly, Birds fly over the rainbow Why then, oh why can’t I? Some day I’ll wish upon a star And wake up where the clouds are far behind me, Where troubles melt like lemondrops, Away above the chimney tops That’s where you’ll find me.”

Smith’s verdict: the song’s longing for a socialist future gave voice to gay male aspirations before liberation even appeared in their dictionary.

Huh? We had no idea “Over the Rainbow” propagates socialism. We thought it dealt more with escape and personal validation. Now we hear that it’s actually some sort of call for an entire social revolution. Boy, are we self-centered, or what?

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One Comment

  • Leland

    Sometimes I think I am the oldest surviving queen, who, despite catching Alzheimer’s from a toilet seat, remembers these things: WOZ was released in 1939. The greatest year for great movies ever. As they say in “Boys in the Band,” “Any kid knows that.” But now I suppose I’ll have to explain BITB.

    It was E.Y. [Yip] Harburg not Ey Harburg, but “bust my buttons,” it turns out that there has been a “socialist,” or rather anti-socialist interpretation of his work for some time because, well, he had been a socialist and we must all thank all of those brilliant minds who have seen through New York Jewish Socialist art for what it is—brainwashing—could that be the real meaning behind, “If I Only Had A Brain”?

    And, of course, not only did he write the lyrics to that anti-American classic “Brother Can You Spare A Dime,” but set it to an old RUSSIAN tune!!!!! And supported women’s sufferage and racial integration, and, well, OF COURSE, he HAD to be blacklisted in the 50s.

    To the best of my knowledge, he was straight, but, in addition to the song lyrics he wrote some of the WOZ dialogue, and the project itself was permeated with friends of THE Dorothy [though some say the expression originally referred to Dorothy Parker] from an uncredited George Cukor, to screenwriter Noel Langley to Adrian to the man at the center of [straight Arthur] “Freed’s Fairies.”

    The Harburg US postage stamp, released last year, is quite lovely, with a rainbow and the song’s first words above his photo.

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