David Chase Sings Goodbye to James Gandolfini

28 Jun

Sopranos creator David Chase gave a loving, considered eulogy this week in tribute to his star and friend, James Gandolfini, who played his great creation Tony Soprano. A humorous/serious and buoyant/reverent tribute it was. And like all his productions, he paired it with the appropriate music. Music as soundtrack to what we do. As he always does. As do I. So included in his scenario is just the right song. Here’s the Sopranos episode that never was, the story he “told” to Gandolfini:

“… You know, everybody knows that we always ended an episode with a song. That was kind of like me and the writers letting the real geniuses do the heavy lifting: Bruce, and Mick and Keith, and Howling Wolf and a bunch of them. So if this was an episode, it would end with a song. And the song, as far as I’m concerned, would be Joan Osborne’s (What If God Was) One of Us. And the set-up for this — we never did this, and you never even heard this — is that Tony was somehow lost in the Meadowlands. He didn’t have his car, and his wallet, and his car keys. I forget how he got there — there was some kind of a scrape — but he had nothing in his pocket but some change. He didn’t have his guys with him, he didn’t have his gun. And so mob boss Tony Soprano just had to be one of the working stiffs, getting in line to get on the bus. And the way we were going to film it, he was going to get on the bus, and the lyric that would’ve [played] over that would’ve been — and we don’t have Joan Osborne to sing it:”

If God had a face
what would it look like?
And would you want to see
if seeing meant you had to believe?
And yeah, yeah, God is great.
Yeah, yeah, God is good.
Yeah, yeah, yeah.

“So Tony would get on the bus, and he would sit there, and the bus would pull out in this big billow of diesel smoke. And then the key lyric would come on, and it was:”

What if God was one of us?
Just a slob like one of us?
Just a stranger on the bus
trying to make his way home.

“And that would’ve been playing over your face, Jimmy. But then — and this is where it gets kind of strange — now I would have to update, because of the events of the last week. And I would let the song play further, and the lyrics would be:”

Just trying to make his way home
Like a holy rollin’ stone
Back up to Heaven all alone
Nobody callin’ on the phone
‘cept for the Pope, maybe, in Rome.

What made this a great story that would have been a great episode was, c’mon people, say it with me now: the music. When a song evokes just the sentiment you wish to convey, well, that’s magic. It’s what David Chase does out of his knowledge of and his passion for music. He understands the power of music. It is the reason I connect with him. It is how I live and breathe. Music is woven through all my writing – you find it in my posts here. But it is especially omnipresent in those posts found in my other blog, Lollapalingo.

TonySoprano.6.28.13David Chase sent Tony Soprano off with a great story with the perfect song.

And he sent James Gandolfini off with a song from his heart.

RIP, James Gandolfini.

 

Sources:
David Chase eulogy: Alan Sepinwall/HitFix
(What If God Was) One of Us lyrics:  Eric Bazillian/Alfred Publishing Co., Inc. (1996)
Tony Soprano Pic: HBO

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