2017, 1 track, 3 mins 32 sec
In one of the best mash-ups ever produced, Israel “IZ” Kamakawiwo'ole weaves together the two fantastic movie tunes “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” with “What a Wonderful World.” Amazingly, Kamakawiwo'ole had recorded the piece as a demo in 1988, not expecting anything to come of it’s unique quality. Perhaps initially viewed as a one-off, casual piece, it was re-introduced by recording engineer Milan Bertosa to producer Jon de Mello, where the decision was made to have it as the title track of IZ’s then new 1993 album. The track was a phenomenal success around the world, praised for it’s pure feeling of love and contentment. Many years after IZ’s 1997 death, this medley is still played and beloved by many.
The core to it’s success is it’s re-imagining in the form of both Hawaiian and Reggae influences. The skank note is somber yet steady, weaved in quite seamlessly with the natural ukulele melody. Kamakawiwo'ole‘ s voice is perfectly expressed, louder in the mix, but soft and angelic in delivery. With just his beautiful voice and guitar providing the structure, subtle effects are used to fatten the sound, through reverb and distant background choral vocalization. Melancholy sets in, as listeners will take note of the words, sang in a fresh way, describing a perfect, care-free world, somewhere out there, that one can transport their mind too whenever they may feel down within the confines of their current situation. To know that a big man like Israel had such a big heart is comforting, though the sadness a listener might feel must be related to questions about how IZ must have felt, trapped under all that weight, but setting his mind to happier thoughts, no matter his circumstance. Or, conversely, perhaps there is nothing to feel sorry about, and the track simply teaches us that through the imagination, anything is possible.
"Somewhere Over the Rainbow/What a Wonderful World" (also known as "Over the Rainbow/What a Wonderful World") is a medley of the songs "Over the Rainbow" and "What a Wonderful World", by Israel Kamakawiwoʻole and released on his albums Ka ʻAnoʻi and Facing Future.