June 9, 2004

Sixties songs and The Sopranos finale.

Since songs of the sixties became a theme of this blog today, let me say the one thing I wanted to say about The Sopranos season finale. When Tony was on his long walk home, he stops and sits on a step outside an elementary school, and you can hear a classroom full of kids singing. The song they are singing is "Mr. Tamborine Man." I'm not sure what that might have been intended to add to the meaning of the episode, but it would be really weird if an elementary school chorus really had to learn "Mr. Tambourine Man," which, by the way, was one of the key songs identified as being about drugs by Time Magazine in a widely discussed mid-60s article (the one that ripped the childlike innocence away from "Puff the Magic Dragon").

Here are the "Mr. Tambourine Man" lyrics that might refer to Tony's long walk home in the snow (with my comments in brackets):
There is no place I'm going to.... [He does have somewhere to go, but maybe in some deeper sense, he's lost.]

My weariness amazes me ... [Literally true.]

I have no one to meet ... [Because Johnny Sack just got arrested.]

And the ancient empty street's too dead for dreaming.... [That sounds like New Jersey, right?]

My toes too numb to step ... [Because he just had to wade in very cold water.]

wait only for my boot heels to be wanderin'...[He's stopped to rest.]

Then take me disappearin' through the smoke rings of my mind ... [Possible reference to Tony's fainting problem.]

A good explanation for this song appearing in this episode, however, is probably that the people making the decision to use it are aging baby boomers like me, and these 60s songs have tremendous appeal for us. (I note that they recently ended an episode with "I'm Not Like Everybody Else"--my favorite Kinks song.) Or, better: Tony is an aging baby boomer, he would have been a kid in the sixties, so he'd like the same pop songs that the baby boomers watching the show remember loving when they were young. This goes with the big theme of the show: how weird it is that Tony's a mob boss but he's also an ordinary person.

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