Dream a Little Dream Over the Rainbow

Michal Strusman & Yaron Adini

יצאנו למסע בין שני שירים ידועים Somewhere Over the Rainbow ו- Dream a Little Dream of Me. מסע של חקירה את עולם החלומות, עולם הערות, הדמיון, השינה והחלומות בהקיץ: כיצד שירי הערש מובילים אותנו ביניהם?

כמורים לאנגלית הניצבים מול כיתות תלמידים ומבקשים מהם לאתגר את עצמם פעם אחר פעם לכתוב ולקרוא באנגלית, נראה לנו אך טבעי להיענות לאותו אתגר בעצמנו. מקווים שתיהנו!

.In the first grade, I used to go to ballet class every Sunday afternoon. At the beginning of every class, we would come close to the mirror, sit on the floor, and pretend to fly to another place around the world. The teacher would softly say “close your eyes and imagine the place you would you like us to fly to today” and we would close our eyes, spread our arms, make an airplane and pretend that we were flying to somewhere far away, like Paris. The teacher would act as our tour guide and walk us through the streets of Paris pointing at the various sites to see: “This is the Eiffel Tower”, “we are standing on the most beautiful bridge in Paris and from here we can see the lovely Seine River”. We’d forget about the dance studio for a while, and in a dream-like state we'd be magically transported to Paris.

Listening to the song “Somewhere over the Rainbow” from the well-known movie The Wizard of Oz (sung by Judy Garland, written by E.Y. Harburg and composed by Harold Arlen, 1939) reminds me of this dream-like state of the ballet class. We all know this dream state, don't we? We all go to dreamland at the end of each day. We get under the covers, close our eyes and slowly drift away. What lies over the rainbow? Where do you go in your dreams? Do you imagine yourself walking in a forest dense with trees, waterfalls and happy animals? Do you ride a camel in a desert scorched with the beaming sun and looking into an endless view of the horizon? Do you dive into the sea, far away from land, swimming around whales, corals and colorful fish as you smell the seawater? Or do you cycle through a city with concrete paved streets, tall skyscrapers and the sounds of train and traffic? Do you have a different “over the rainbow”?

According to Dorothy (played by Judy Garland in the Wizard of Oz, 1939) over the rainbow is a magical place way up high. Maybe her dreamland is so far away high in the sky because we can’t see this place, we can only imagine it. Our imagination of over the rainbow can take us anywhere, it defies gravity, and by this it defies all grave and heavy feelings; it is full of carefree and light emotions. It is a place where the skies are always blue. There is no cloud to cast any shadow on this magical place. The bluebirds of happiness fly there because it’s truly a blissful place and troubles can’t exist there, they simply melt like lemon drops. This is Dorothy’s dreamland. 

In my ballet classes, I used to look forward to those imaginary trips and while I was roaming the streets of Paris, or Rome, or wherever, I knew I would always return to the safe studio. This ritual at the beginning of every class made ballet classes somewhat similar to a dreamland.  I could dare to dream that I was the best dancer in the world. This ritual of dreaming of another world made the classes a fun place where I could move freely, dance and explore my creativity as a dancer. I could do that because I knew that reality was a safe, warm and loving place. The safe, well-anchored base gave me the strength I needed to fly away. The parent in the lullaby "Dream a Little Dream of Me" also tries to impress the idea that reality is a loving place.

The lullaby "Dream a Little Dream of Me" was written by Gus Kahn and composed by Fabian Andre and Wilbur Schwandt in 1931. It has been recorded and performed live countless times ever since. It became especially popular in 1968 after it was performed by the Mamas and the Papas. In the lullaby “Dream a Little Dream of Me” the send-off to dreamland is described beautifully. First, the entire earthly world, the base of departure, comes in harmony to make the child feel loved and safe. The stars of this world shine bright above; the night breezes cuddle the baby and whisper “I love you”. In this song the parent sends their child to this dreamland that leaves all worries far behind. In dreamland, the child has complete freedom to include the parent or explore dreamland independently. The anxious parent is left alone and blue as can be, and therefore urges his or her child to dream a little dream of me. The parent asks the child to be included in the dream. But is there a connection between these two lullabies? Do they describe the same journey?

The two lullabies together construct a harmonic story of the child’s journey to dreamland. Similar imagery can be found in both lullabies. Dream a Little Dream of Me describes the earthly scene, where everything is firmly grounded: the night, the bed, the trees and the birds on the trees. The parent sends their child on a journey to dreamland to leave all worries far behind you. The second part of the journey is described in Somewhere Over the Rainbow. This place is way up high, over the rainbow. It is the total opposite of reality: it is always sunny and the birds fly freely. This place is the destination of the journey: here troubles melt like lemon drops. The parent's lonely and blue mood in Dream a Little Dream of Me is replaced by the happy, carefree bluebirds fly in Somewhere Over the Rainbow.

We sought to show you how these two different lullabies describe different parts of the same experience. The one is a farewell from a parent to their child that takes place in this earthly world, and the other contains fragments of descriptions from the world beyond. It seems to us that this reflects the dialogue between waking life and the nightly dreamland. You can populate dreamland with creatures and people from this world, and vice versa. Do we live in reality and dreams are only islands in our reality or are our lives a dream where we wake up to islands of reality? Where is “Over the Rainbow”? You may you find that it is right where you are.

Dream a Little Dream Over the Rainbow