A Star is Born: A Traveling Legacy and a Reflection of Music History

A Star is Born: A Traveling Legacy and a Reflection of Music History

While filming A Star is Born (1937), actors Janet Gaynor and Fredric March couldn’t have predicted that one day the classic film would expand into a musical. Or, that a pop star named Lady Gaga would sing an excerpt of “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” in 2018. But both events happened. Why? Because like movies, music is a traveling legacy.

A Sign of the Times Shown in Music

During a 2018 interview with Vogue magazine, Lady Gaga used the words, “traveling legacy” to describe her thoughts about all the remakes of A Star is Born. And she’s right, but not just about the movies. Music creates its own legacy, and each soundtrack for the movie features songs, sound bites, and dialogue exchanges specific to its period in history.

For example, the original version of A Star is Born (1937) is one of the first films made in Technicolor, so its soundtrack features songs about movement and change.

The soundtrack for A Star is Born (1945) is the first remake as a musical. It features performances by the late Judy Garland, who struggled with behavioral health issues. So, most of the songs are about self-awareness, feeling comfortable in one’s own skin, overcoming self-doubt, and practicing mindfulness, especially while in relationships.

The soundtrack for A Star is Born (2018) is mostly about love, in all its glory. And perhaps that’s why the movie broke music records by selling over one million copies worldwide in such a short amount of time. Followed by the soundtrack’s most popular song, “Shallow” (Listen Now!), which set another record for the most downloads.

But for those people who haven’t seen the movie or heard the soundtrack, prepare yourself for legacy infused with life lessons about the reality of self-doubt, the gift of self-love, and the power of addiction.

A Star is Born: Women’s Rights and Empowerment

In 1937, not many female actresses received the same appreciation in the film industry as men. In fact, actress Janet Gaynor, who played Esther Blodgett, didn’t receive any awards for her performance, and many film critics questioned her level of talent. Though, she later received countless awards for her acting abilities.

However, by the 1945 remake, actress Judy Garland was at the height of her career. And some critics call A Star is Born one of her best performances. So, perhaps becoming a musical helped? Perhaps in 1945, being a musical made more sense for an aspiring actress?

Barbra Streisand: The Queen Bee of A Star is Born (1976)

Barbra Streisand, along with musician and actor, Kris Kristofferson starred in the 1976 version of A Star is Born. But after Judy Garland’s stellar performance, not many people appreciated the second remake as much as the first.

Fortunately, the 1976 soundtrack helped carry the movie because it gained a lot of attention due to its particular timing. Just a year before the movie’s release, the United Nations declared March 8, 1975, to be International Women’s Day, which celebrates accomplished women throughout history.

During a 1977 interview, celebrity philanthropist and women’s rights activist, Barbra Streisand said:

“Women have as much need to express themselves as men. In that respect, we are equal.”

Then she quoted a line from “The Woman in the Moon”, which she sings on the 1976 soundtrack:

“I believe in the best of both worlds; mixing old and new.”

1977 interview with Barbra Streisand and Kris Kristofferson | A Star is Born

Streisand not only played the queen bee in A Star is Born (1976), but she also sings a song called “Queen Bee” on the movie’s soundtrack. Here are a few of the lyrics, which also fall right in line with the times.

“The Queen Bee’s story is the power and the glory of the women who have ruled alone…”

“So in conclusion, its an optical illusion if you think we’re the weaker race. Men got the muscle, but the ladies got the hustle, and the truth is staring you in the face.”

Fans are Somewhere Over the Rainbow with A Star is Born

When Vogue magazine asked Bradley Cooper why he chose A Star is Born to make his directing debut, he said,

“I wanted to tell a love story…and to me there’s no better way than through music. With music, it’s impossible to hide. Every fiber of your body becomes alive when you sing.”

Bradley Cooper | Vogue Magazine (2018)

And, he succeeded. But A Star is Born is not a typical love story. It’s mostly about self-love, which Lady Gaga’s character (Ally) struggles with in the beginning. She, like many aspiring singer-songwriters and musicians, struggles with confidence and self-doubt. She makes a lot of excuses about why she doesn’t like to perform her own songs on stage, but most of which have nothing to do with her talent.

“Almost every single person has told me that they like the way I sound, but they don’t like the way I look.”

“I could’ve had a maybe hit song if it wasn’t for my nose.”

Ally, played by Lady Gaga | A Star is Born (2018)
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