By now unless you live under a rock you've heard about the early passing of James Gandolfini. Gandolfini has lent his talents to tons of different productions, appearing as the gay bounty hunter in The Mexican, Juror # 6 in the 1997 version of 12 Angry Men, and in 1992 he even appeared in a Broadway version of the Brando classic On The Waterfront. It seems, however, that his most pervasive role, and the one he will always be remembered for, is as the psychologically troubled gangster Tony Soprano. Gandolfini's passing will resonate with people differently, and for some it may not resonate at all. But most people in the U.S. understand Tony Soprano, and subsequently Gandolfini, as the most entertaining, frightening, and lovable mobster of all time.
Part of why The Sopranos was such an appealing show to someone like me is that it was engrained in Jersey culture. Not only was it written with impeccable Jersey vernacular, but many of its actors were born and raised in The Garden State. In addition, I can personally relate to Gandolfini in a number of ways. Gandolfini was born and raised in North Jersey (just like me). Gandolfini's Italian ancestry can be traced back to Napoli (so can mine). Gandolfini studied Communications at Rutgers University in New Brunswick (I'm majoring in English and Journalism there, but close enough). Obviously those are extremely broad similarities, but similarities nonetheless, so BACK OFF. Anyway, having an authentic Jersey boy portraying possibly the most morally ambiguous yet ruthless mob boss of all time was awesome. On top of that, you can barely watch the show for five minutes without hearing the name of a nearby town, common road, or familiar landmark. They even filmed somebody get whacked at a gas station in my hometown. While the show was fiction, most would agree that it seems very realistic because, let's face it, there must be someone out there right now who is just like Tony Soprano.
So why is this relevant to a site like Baeble? Good question, I was just getting to that.
Another feature that made The Sopranos great was the incredible soundtrack they employed. It seems they put just as much effort into choosing the music for a scene as they did shooting it. Classic songs and new wave music shared equal time amongst Soprano's scenes, and each song was clearly selected in order to bring out the drama, irony, or pathos in any given scene. Each season is littered with amazing tracks, so much so that even though I want to, it is simply impossible for me to recall every Tony moment that was paired so perfectly with a classic piece of music. The only plausible way to do it would be to re-watch every episode, jotting down a description any time a great song comes on. While I don't have time to do that today, as a thank you to Gandolfini, I have combed the Internet, piecing together some of my most memorable music moments from The Sopranos.
Please enjoy, and RIP James Gandolfini.
A3 - "Woke Up This Morning"
HBO probably puts together the coolest opening credit sequences ever. This one showcases some iconic shots of Jersey, and some actual highways that I've personally driven on to get to New York City, and pairs this song perfectly with the themes of the show.
"You woke up this mornin'/ Got yourself a gun/ Mama always said you'd be/ The Chosen One"
Frank Sinatra - "It Was a Very Good Year"
In the opening of season two, Frank Sinatra's solemn song of nostalgia perfectly complements a montage detailing the changes and issues arising within Tony's family.
The Chi Lites - "Oh Girl"
As Tony calmly sings along to this classic, his mind wanders to an old goomah. When he finds her with another man, despite the fact he already knew they were together, he isn't very happy about it.
Warning: this video does contain footage of a half-naked man being whipped with a belt.
Uncle Junior sings "Core n'grato"
Here, at the end of season three Dominic Chianese delivers a powerful performance of the Neapolitan song, and brings almost the entire room to tears.
Otis Redding - "My Lover's Prayer"
This finds its way into the mix after Christopher Moltisanti is shot and is placed in the ICU, and extracts all of the pain and fear from the scene before any dialogue begins.
The Kinks - "Living on a Thin Line"
The Bada Bing Club seems like it was built for an ominous song like this. This scene appears midway through season three.
The Rolling Stones - "Thru and Thru"
The season two finale displays yet another montage juxtaposing Tony's personal life and the repercussions of his business, all the while incorporating this Stones song perfectly.
Fred Neil - "The Dolphins"
After a brief stint in rehab, Christopher Moltisanti finally gives in to the needle. This song documents his relapse and heroin high.
Dean Martin - "My Rifle, My Pony, and Me"
Tony mourns the loss of his beloved horse with this lonely cowboy song.
"Every Step You Take" v. Theme from Peter Gunn
In the season three opener the FBI is all over Tony (not very subtly). As they tail him on his morning drive and attempt to bug his house, a wonderful mash up of The Police's "Every Step You Take" and the theme music from Peter Gunn occurs. You can also catch Tony singing "Dirty Work" by Steely Dan as he drives along at (5:44).
Best of Steven Van Zandt
For those of you who don't know, Bruce Springsteen's & the E Street Band's guitarist Steven Van Zandt played, Silvio Dante, Tony Soprano's consigliere. Here's a compilation of some of his more memorable moments.
The Music of the Sopranos
Watch as the cast and crew discuss how they chose the music for the show.