Tuesday, September 18, 2007

The 50 Music Project: Final Chapter

XXV. Cut to Black, Over and Out

Don't Stop Believin', Journey

There really could be no other way to end it.

Pop or rock songs have played key parts in movies and television for years. There probably isn't anyone who doesn't have an image in their mind of a great song placed within the context of a film: whether it be the funeral cortege heading over the bridge in The Big Chill while "You Can't Always Get What You Want" plays, "Gimme Shelter" serving as the introduction to The Departed, the brilliant use of Smokey Robinson's "The Love I Saw in You Was Just a Mirage" in American Gigolo, or countless others. For a while, you hear the song, you think of the movie, and then you forget the connection, until and unless you happen to see the movie again at some point in the future.

But this one is different. For anyone who watched the final episode of The Sopranos, it will be impossible to ever again hear this song without thinking of Tony and his family sitting in that diner, waiting for a climax that never comes - a climax that David Chase brilliantly chose to leave in the imaginations of the viewers.

It truly was a great moment in television history, one that will be talked about for as long as people care about great television. Thousands and thousands of words were written about that final scene, but I'm not sure that anyone said it better than Matt Zoller Seitz:

So often on The Sopranos, when a character or characters spend a lot of screen time shooting the breeze or fixating on some mundane bit of business, the non-drama is followed by a beat-down or a bullet in the brain; your attention starts to wander and then WHAM. We expect the same dynamic this time; but Meadow successfully parks the car. She walks across the street. We think she might get hit by a car; she does not. Cut to the inside of the restaurant; Tony looks up at the sound of the bell ringing; cut to black.

The sound cuts out, too.

The credits roll.

There is no music.

What happens next?

We don't know. We'll never know.

What we do know is that "Don't Stop Believin," the song that Tony chose to play on that jukebox on what might have been the last night of his life, ceased belonging to Journey the moment that the scene ended. Like it or not, that song now belongs to Tony Soprano.

And with that, the 50th Anniversary Music Project comes to an end. 50 years, 421 songs, and if one were inclined to do such a thing, they might find that it would fill up 20 CDs. It was great fun, and while it was also a lot of work, I'm sorry it had to come to an end. I hope everyone who had a chance to read it, or at least part of it, enjoyed reading it as much as I enjoyed putting it all together.

And thanks, mom and dad, for providing the inspiration.

1 comment:

Carol B said...

I totally agree about the final Sopranos episode. It rang true. In real life, every chapter isn't punctuated with some sytlistically spectacular event. We generally just keep on keeping on, perhaps glancing nervously at the door or arriving late to a family dinner, where nothing special happens. This episode lets viewers continue the story in their heads. It can end however we choose to have it end. I like that. I had lots of trouble with the casual violence that was so much a part of the series, but I loved it anyway because it was so smart and funny. The characters were compelling and that kept me hooked.