If you’re a fan of the HBO Series, Six Feet Under, you’ll instantly recognize the opening track used to promote the launch of their fifth season, which will end this summer. The pictures featured inside the cover actually get the series’ original theme song running through your head as the hands, once held together, break apart when one leaves this life for the afterlife.
The show itself gained popularity quickly with its take on a subject that typically doesn’t come up in dinner conversation – all the gory details involved in dying from the view of a family who runs a funeral home. That’s what made it so provocative and hooked others like myself. As the show evolved it was more about life than death as the characters come into their own and connect, if only for a few days, with the strangers that walk into their establishment. There is obviously heart ache and pain involved, but the brighter side of humanity is spotlighted, from comedic and endearing moments to bravely shedding emotional armor in exchange for vulnerability and honesty.
The music has been a background character from day one, using artists that not only bring the viewer closer into the show through their familiarity of the band or a song, but songs also follow episode themes that at times, fly fearless in the face of death, as with Nina Simone’s “Feeling Good,” a saucy tune that could easily be used in a modern day burlesque show. The words as much as the rhythms play leading roles, and you can definitely count on Phoenix (Everything is Everything), Coldplay (A Rush Of Blood To The Head), Radiohead (Lucky) and Death Cab For Cutie (Transatlanticism) to hit their mark.
Opportunities to grab that “good to be alive” feeling comes into play on Bebel Gilberto’s “Aganju” and are intertwined with what I consider to be a very tongue and cheek rendition of “(Don’t Fear) The Reaper” by Caesars or “Time Is On My Side” by Irma Thomas, along with song lyrics on other tracks that are very literal in their contemplations and observations.
Even if you’re not a fan of the show or don’t know if it’s existence because you don’t get cable, I highly suggest this soundtrack for those days that you want to either embrace the life that you live or the agonies that come along with it. For me, I think I’ll add the Caesars version of “The Reaper” to the list of songs to be played at my wake. It will give my friends a good laugh.
Everything does come to and end, and for Six Feet Under, that will happen with the airing of their last episode air August 21. But at least we got to know them for the time they were here.