Five Things About…The Music of "The Sopranos"

One of the most fascinating aspects of Tony Soprano’s character is his taste for thoroughly mainstream classic rock. We expect literary heroes (and Tony Soprano is one) to have distinctive or quirky taste, but there’s no reason why they should. And in fact, the contrast between Tony’s average taste and the horrible things he does makes him that much more fascinating.

The Sopranos is justifiably famed for its use of music to punctuate and even to advance the plot. Our list of Five Things About . . . The Music of The Sopranos features one episode from each of the first five seasons and some of the classic-rock songs heard therein. (Caution: for the few who haven’t yet seen the show, the descriptions include a few spoilers.)

1. “Isabella,” season 1.

Tony escapes an attempted hit ordered by Uncle Junior, and it actually improves his outlook on life. Heard in the episode: Cream’s “I Feel Free.”

2. “D-Girl,” season 2.

13-year-old A. J. discovers Camus and Nietzsche and decides life is meaningless. Heard in the episode: “Rhiannon” by Fleetwood Mac and “Swingtown” by the Steve Miller Band.

3. “Mr. Ruggerio’s Neighborhood,” season 3.

Big Pussy is dead, Patsy Parisi is suspicious, and the FBI bugs the Sopranos’ basement, to the tune of, among others, Steely Dan (“Dirty Work”) and the Eagles (“Hotel California”).

4. “The Weight,” season 4.

Do not make jokes about Ginny Sack’s butt. Featured: “Tush” by ZZ Top.

5. “Rat Pack,” season 5.

Tony’s ringtone is “We Are the Champions” by Queen.

Here’s a bonus Sixth Thing: a clip from the season 4 episode “Watching Too Much Television,” in which Tony punches up our sister station WCBS-FM (listen for the jingle at the beginning of the clip) and hums along to the Chi-Lites’ “Oh Girl” while on his way to visit his girlfriend Irina.

For more on the music of The Sopranos, there’s this article from 2006; HBO’s Sopranos website, with music listings for each episode, is here.

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