Turned On To Show Through Song

the-wire  “Dude. You’ve got to check out The Wire.”  I’ve been told this for a while…four years, in fact.  And I am just now getting around to it (even though, the show is no longer on television).  So why now?  Well, I discovered the theme song is none other than Tom Waits’s “Way Down in a Hole.”  I’m a gigantic Tom Waits fan.  That’s an understatement really…I actually base my life around Tom Waits songs.  Saturday nights, you can find me slumped over a broken piano, empty Chartreuse bottle in hand.  So, of course, I simply had to watch the show. 

The drama depicts different facets of Baltimore: everything from the drug trade to the news media.  The producer, David Simon, says the show is “really about the American city, and about how we live together.  It’s about how institutions have an effect on individuals, and how…whether you’re a cop, a longshoreman, a drug dealer, a politican, a judge [or] a lawyer, you’re ultimately compromised and must contend with whatever insitution you’ve committed to.”

It’s definitely worth a watch, if you haven’t been already.  What I really found intriguing is the show relies mainly on diegetic music: music that originates from sources in the scene….like the rap songs coming from the radio of the street gangs’ cars.

Each season, the theme song is done by a different artist.  The first season features The Blind Boys from Alabama.  Season two is the Tom Waits original.  Followed by the Neville Brothers, DoMaJe, and Steve Earle, respectively.

As a Tom Waits enthusiast, I prefer the original.  But I’ll let you, be the judge. 

Here’s the Tom Waits one:

Here’s the DoMaJe version.  It is recorded by 5 Baltimore teenagers.


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