Harold Arlen composed some of the great classics of the Great American Song Book including “Come Rain or Come Shine,” “Blues in the Night,” “Stormy Weather,” and, of the Wizard of Oz signature song “Over the Rainbow.”
Walter Rimler details the stories behind the songs in his book The Man That Got Away: the Life and Songs of Harold Arlen.
Sometimes the tales of the tunes were as winding as the Yellow Brick Road.
Take for instance the connection between the man who would sang “If I Only Had a Brain” in the MGM classic and the song’s composer.
As reported by WGRZ TV in the feature you can view below, Harold Arlen met his future Scarecrow in the exotic cabaret scene of Buffalo, New York.
Before becoming one of Tin Pan Alley’s most revered songwriters, Arlen had a gig as a pianist and singer on the steamer The Canadiana, which cruised the Emerald Channel of Lake Erie. That’s right: the Emerald Channel.
The comic dancer Ray Bolger crossed paths with Harold Arlen on similar bookings and the two became friends and eventually roommates. Years later, Bolger would be on contract with MGM and was cast as the loose-limbed Scarecrow.