The Sopranos was a brutal and darkly funny crime drama that ran for six seasons and 86 episodes on HBO from January 1999 to June 2007. It’s list of awards takes about five minutes to scroll through online. It’s the first show I can remember where the writing and acting was so good, I found myself being sympathetic toward terrible people doing horrible things. Tony Soprano, played brilliantly by the late James Gandolfini, was depicted as just another guy attempting to balance work and home life. Of course “work” involved extortion, arson, robbery, bribery, money laundering, assault and murder. I seldom watch re-runs, but one day I will make an exception for The Sopranos, one of my favorite television series of all time.
The music that accompanies the show’s gritty opening montage as Tony exits the Holland tunnel en route to his home at 633 Stag Trail Road in suburban Caldwell, New Jersey, perfectly sets the mood for the show. It’s performed by Alabama 3, a British band that shortened its name to A3 to avoid legal issues with the American country band, Alabama. The song features a weird, everything-but-the-kitchen-sink-blend of country, techno, hip hop, rock, blues, and jazz—hardly the obvious choice to pair with a show about Italian mobsters. Nevertheless it is destined to be immortalized as the Soprano’s “theme song” rather than the A3 hit, “Woke Up This Morning;” a song inspired by the 1996 murder case involving Sara Thornton, a woman who got herself a gun and killed her alcoholic husband after two years of violent abuse, and neglect.
“Woke Up This Morning” first appeared on A3’s 1997 debut, Exile on Coldharbour Lane. Twenty-two years later it’s the Happy Medium Song of the Day. (Please use the comments box to share your thoughts.)