Israel Kamakawiwo'ole's simple rendition of the Wizard of Oz's Somewhere Over The Rainbow is one of the most enigmatic recordings ever produced. People hear it, fall in love with it, and then spend the next few months trying to track it down. There's something very special about the song that makes you feel good, but it's impossible to describe exactly what it is.
The San Francisco Chronicle published a great story tracing the song's rise in popularity from its impromptu recording session to it getting used in numerous movies and commercials.
A young engineer named Milan Bertosa sits in his recording studio, waiting. He was planning to go home, until some Hawai'ian guy with a lot of letters in his name called up and wanted to record something right away. It's late, Bertosa is tired, but the voice was insistent, saying he only needed half an hour. A knock at the door, and there stands an unimaginable sight. De Mello, whom Bertosa recognizes, stands about five foot two and 100 pounds. Next to him, the largest man he's ever seen, a gargantuan six-foot-six Hawai'ian carrying a ukulele. De Mello introduces the two, they get Israel situated in a chair, and Bertosa starts rolling tape.
Download "Somewhere Over The Rainbow" at the iTunes Music Store for 99¢
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