Harmetz, Aljean. The Making of The Wizard of Oz. New York: Knopf, 1977.
The third chapter of Aljean Harmetz' The Making of the Wizard of Oz, entitled "The Brains, The Heart, The Nerve, and The Music," discusses the way in which E. Y. Harburg (the lyricist) and Harold Arlen (the composer) worked together to develop the soundtrack for The Wizard of Oz. Harburg, who was hand picked by Arlen, had previously recorded "Brother, Can You Spare a Dime?," which became the "battle hymn of the Depression" (Harmetz, 76). When confronted with the challenge of composing a ballad for The Wizard of Oz, Harburg maintained his desire to reflect reality through music and created "Somewhere Over the Rainbow" to showcase the possibility of exploring new places. Harburg attached deep emotion to this song and hoped audiences would realize his message. Technically, the rainbow offers Dorothy "a visual reason for going to a new land and a reason for changing to color" (Harmetz, 77). However, Harburg also intended the song to represent an opportunity to flee the black and white Kansas farm and enter a new city full of vibrant color. After the first screening of The Wizard of Oz, L.B. Mayer, the head of MGM, removed "Somewhere Over the Rainbow" from the film. Harburg was angry not only because that meant losing a beautiful ballad, but also because it meant eliminating a dramatic political statement. After much deliberation, however, the song was put back into the film and has since become one of the most easily recognizable songs in history.
Harmetz' discussion of Harburg as a lyricist can be analyzed further in light of Harburg's past accomplishments and the political and economic landscape in the Untied States in 1939. Harburg's "Brother, Can You Spare a Dime?" is an overt representation of the economic crisis that overtook America in the 1930s. It is therefore probable that included in Harburg's intentions for "Somewhere Over the Rainbow" was the goal of representing Dorothy's entrance into a new land, full of color, as America's emergence into a new era of economic prosperity. In this light, it is probable that Kansas represents the Depression-era and the Land of Oz correlates with Franklin Delano Roosevelt's New Deal. When FDR became president in 1933, he instituted the New Deal strategy in an attempt to restore America's reputation as a land of affluence. His efforts helped farmers across the Midwest reestablish themselves as successful workers and, ultimately, recreate their old lifestyles. The New Deal offered America the chance to reinvent itself and become vibrant country, full of Technicolor. Dorothy's desire to escape the dullness and squalor of Kansas and experience a new, exotic locale reflects Harburg's hope that America would once again be the land of opportunity where the streets are paved with gold.