Sunday, June 10, 2007

Music on The Sopranos - When the Music's Over

Friends of ours: Soprano Crime Family

At one point early on in Sunday night's The Sopranos ("The Blue Comet,") special agent Harris says to Tony about the weather, "End of times, huh? Ready for the Rapture?" After what soon followed in this penultimate episode, that comment feels almost not apocalyptic enough to encompass all the carnage that ensued. It was an explosive and powerful episode that sets up a series finale that's sure to be talked about for ages (and consider that your spoiler.)

It's something else, though, that Agent Harris confides to Tony that kick starts the episode: Phil has set in motion plans to take out Tony and a few of his friends. Tony quickly ditches the gabagool sandwich in his hand (remember that meat was a catalyst of his first panic attack,) and gets 'management' together. At a meeting, they decide to hit Phil first, and then Tony and Sil crack up Bobby with some slow-mo boxing moves. The whole scene is backed by Pietro Mascagni's "Intermezzo" from Cavalleria Rusticana, which was used as the title theme to Scorsese's Raging Bull, making for a goose-bump-inducing moment. The piece was also used in Godfather III, in the scene where Michael Corleone's daughter dies, a dangerous reference if intended. Writer Terry Winter cleared that up yesterday at Slate:

...the use of Cavalleria Rusticana is Raging Bull and Raging Bull only. Godfather III does not exist for me. It ceased to exist at 3:30 pm on Christmas Day, 1990, when I walked out of the first ever showing at the Kings Plaza Shopping Center Multiplex in Brooklyn, utterly heartbroken at what I had just witnessed.

When Bobby delegates the hit on Phil to Paulie into the back room of The Bing, The Door's "When the Music's Over" is playing, which is both odd and appropriate. Odd to think that anyone would choose to strip/dance to the 10-minute long experimental jam, and appropriate in the sentiment that it is almost over for the series. When Paulie then delegates the job to Patsy, Black Rebel Motorcycle Club's "American X" is playing, featuring the lines you?ve sold your soul but it?s only a fake / you?d kill yourself for a piece of the take, making me think, again, that Paulie could be playing both sides here.

Later, when Sil and Paulie figure out that the hit was screwed up, the Madder Rose song "You Remember" plays, and a couple lines from the song are highlighted: No one knows how to turn this thing around / it's moving faster now, be quiet and I'll tell you about the sound. There's obviously no 'turning back' now, but Tony's crew finds ways to 'turn their back' on the danger. First Bobby gets taken out in spectacular fashion (while purchasing a Blue Comet train replica train set,) and we're reminded that while he's come a long way from being Junior's driver, he's still a naive little kid at heart.

Then, even as Sil and Patsy are in the process of 'going to ground,' they're still caught unawares outside The Bing (while listening to Nat King Cole's "Ramblin' Rose.") Why wouldn't Sil have a gun on him? Does he think that Phil's goons will respect The Bing? As the carnage is going on, Chase makes sure to have patrons and strippers (still naked) from The Bing outside gawking at the scene. It serves as a nice "F-You!" to the Soprano lookie-loos who only watch for the violence and the occasional nudity - Chase has never shied from publicly loathing their patronage.

While Phil is an arrogant prick, the bumbling by Tony's crew validates much of Phil's complaints about the New Jersey family and their way of doing business. Meanwhile, Elliott (Peter Bogdanovich) is also an arrogant prick who's problems with Tony are validated. Elliott is not only similar to Phil in that regard, but also in his success at eliminating Tony's support, as he helps push Melfi into giving up on Tony. Her abandonment of him in his time of need was a long time coming, given the history of their relationship, but the timing couldn't have been worse as a realistic resolution. It's hard to believe that Yochelson & Samenow's "The Criminal Personality" can close the book on that part of the series so quickly.

So it's just Tony and Paulie left, holed up in some nondescript safehouse. And as Tony tries to sleep clutching the semi-automatic rifle that dearly departed Bobby got him for his birthday, we hear the Tindersticks song "Running Wild" through the credits. It's the perfect moody, foreboding piece of work to end the episode, and while Chase uses the instrumental version, the lyrics to the song are relevant:

Running wild through my mind that I can't sleep tonight Like a child, like a child I have no place to hide Running wild, is there no ending for the...

Playlist: The Sopranos - Episode 620
1. "We Belong Together" - Robert & Johnny - Phil Leotardo sets plans in motion at his social club
2. "Intermezzo Stafonico (from 'Cavalleria Rusticana')" - Pietro Mascagni - Tony, Bobby, and Silvio talk and horse around at Vesuvio's
3. "Sympathy" - Keith Jarrett - Dr. Melfi and friends discuss her patient at a dinner party
4. "When The Music's Over" - The Doors - Bobby summons Paulie to the backroom of The Bing
5. "American X" - Black Rebel Motorcycle Club - Paulie and Patsy talk at The Bing
6. "Nuages" - Django Reinhardt - The Sopranos catch up with Artie and Charmaine at Vesuvio's
7. "You Remember" - Madder Rose - Silvio and Paulie read the news at The Bing
8. "Ramblin' Rose" - Nat King Cole - Shootout in parking lot of The Bing
9. "Running Wild" - Tindersticks - Tony goes to sleep

Thanks to Drake LeLane

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