Music from The Sopranos by Max Mertens
Until last year, I had never watched a single episode of The Sopranos. Despite being an influence on so many of today’s *extremely nerdy The AV Club commentator voice* “prestige” TV programs, David Chase’s groundbreaking family crime drama series was one of my major pop culture blind spots. Obviously given the show’s New Jersey setting, and the fact E Street Band guitarist Steven Van Zandt (whose syndicated radio show Little Steven’s Underground Garage I listened to religiously in high school) played the sharp-dressing Silvio Dante, I expected Bruce Springsteen’s oeuvre would be involved in some capacity. However that was just the tip of the iceberg when it came to the show’s sharp musical choices, courtesy of music supervisor Kathryn Dayak, producer Martin Bruestle, and Chase. From Italian love songs (who can forget Junior’s rendition of "Core 'ngrato"?) to A.J.’s nu-metal phase and Adriana’s short-lived career as a producer, the genre-diverse soundtrack offered something for everybody, and elevated the drama’s most poignant scenes.
When making this playlist, I tried to avoid more obvious picks like Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believin’” (used in the series finale’s unforgettable closing scene) or the show’s (admittedly catchy-as-hell) theme song, Alabama 3’s “Woke Up This Morning,” in favour of greasy rock ‘n’ roll anthems, moody, 90s alt-rock slow burners, and a generous helping of between-the-sheets soul and funk. Over the course of two hours and forty minutes, you’ll hear Bada Bing favourites, 50s jukebox hits, and a fantastic Mazzy Star deep cut. Grab some leftover gabagool and moozadell from the fridge, pour one out for James Gandolfini, and turn this up loud.
Max Mertens is a writer and social commentator. Follow him on twitter.