Somewhere Over the Rainbow

Even when I was much younger, I am used to having music on most of the time. In my room in Sampaloc, when I was in high school thru college, I had a small stereo radio with a cassette player that sits near my bed. It played instrumental music or light jazz when I am studying (I avoid music that will cause me to break into a song or make me sing-along when I am reading for that will disturb my concentration), and soft mellow music when I am ready to sleep.

If I am not studying or sleeping, my music can range from folk, rock, country, pop, gospel, and OPM’s (to which I freely sing-along). The music will drown the noise from our street, and most of the time, I would fall asleep with the radio on. The radio playing did not bother me at all, in fact it lulled me to sleep, especially during nights when sleep did not come so easily.

I don’t sleep with the radio on anymore. I have to consider the one I’m sharing the bed with now. My wife is a light sleeper and she easily gets awakened with noises, and a radio on will not let her sleep at all. Too bad she has to sleep with the noise of my snoring though. However, there are still nights that I cannot turn off my mind, or I can become restless, and sleep will not come to me. On these occasions, I put my earphones with my i-Pod or i-Phone on, and listen to my favorite music that will transcend me to La La land.

For a very long time, it has been observed that music can affect human behavior. In Biblical times, it was recorded that King Saul would call for David to play him his harp to soothe his troubled spirit.

In more modern times, research has shown that music with a strong beat can stimulate brainwaves to resonate in sync with the beat, with faster beats resulting sharper concentration and more alert thinking, while a slower tempo promotes a calm, meditative state. Music therapy is a growing field in health care and had been used in pain management, children with Attention Deficit Disorder, and even in ICU to help pacify patients. For some reason music appears to calm my restless leg syndrome as good as medication.

Not too long ago, I heard a version of “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” sang by this certain singer, that I really like. Then when we were in Hawaii several months ago, the tour guide mentioned this singer and I learned that he was from that island. He is Israel Kamakawiwo’ole (yes, that’s definitely an Hawaiian name).

It was sad though to learn that he passed away at an early age of 38, in 1997. He had health problems stemming from his weight, which at one point was more than 750 pounds. But that did not stop me from downloading his songs in my i-Phone. His “What a Wonderful World” is another favorite of mine, and he now sings me lullaby when I cannot sleep.

More recently, I heard from the radio a version of “Fields of Golds” that was an original song of Sting, who by the way is one of my favorite singers. But this specific rendition of the song captivated me, and so I looked for it and downloaded it also in my i-Phone.

I was intrigue why I have not heard of this female singer before, so I searched for her other songs in i-Tunes and I found most of them were really beautiful. Then I also found out that she had died back in 1996 from a malignant melanoma at such a young age of 33. Her name is Eva Cassidy.

What’s with me and dead singers? We’ll I guess I just like their songs, and it does not matter whether they are dead or alive. Eva Cassidy also now rocks me gently to sleep in my restless nights.

Here is Eva and Israel in their different versions of “Somewhere Over the Rainbow.” Yes, both of them are really somewhere over there.

(videos from youtube)

7 thoughts on “Somewhere Over the Rainbow

  1. The Hawaiian version of Somewhere over the Rainbow is also a favorite of mine. The singer’s young death is a tragedy. Music is a way for us to connect with ourselves and others. It help us forget our problems even for a moment. Wonderful post my friend!

  2. you said that faster and stronger beats can make the listener’s brain active and leads to fast concentration? so if i’m going to study or memorize what kind of music do you think I should listen to? cos i usually listen to classical music. but i’m wondering if other genres of music work as good as classical.

    • Even though not fully understood yet, the music rhythm increases the release of neurotransmitters in the brain. Classical music is the most studied type of music that has a positive effect. A study done in Stanford University years ago found improvement in learning and memory while listening to Mozart. It was coined the “Mozart effect.” Go ahead and bring out the Mozart CD’s. But don’t forget to study too! 🙂

      • I always study while listening to classical music. It’s just that i’m wondering if it depends by person…if like, mellow rock music can also be listened to while studying. :]

  3. hello, pinoytransplant,

    salamat dito sa post. pakikinggan ko uli si eva cassidy, isa sa napakahuhusay na singers na narinig ko. magaling din itong hawaiian singer, ang ganda ng timbre ng boses at ang husay ng kontrol. hahanapin ko ang iba pa nyang kanta sa youtube, ahaha. thanks and regards! 🙂

  4. They called him “Brother IZ.” His version of the Rainbow/what a wonderful world medley has been used in many movies and commercials for its soothing rendition complete with the playful ukelele. I think we also heard it played in “50 First Dates.”

  5. that’s one of the songs i consider when i am in my emo-moments (aside from moon river and my other oldie-favorites). the version was hauntingly beautiful. but she died at 33 with melanoma? poor one.

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