Over the course of its five seasons, “True Blood” has consistently been one of the best shows on television not only for fans of vampires but for music fans as well. Each episode is named after a song title, and a number of artists have contributed new recordings to the show. Every week during season six, Radio.com will check in with “True Blood” Music Supervisor Gary Calamar, who has been nominated for GRAMMYs twice for his work on the show. To see previous recaps, go here.
“At Last.” A timeless classic. Recorded in 1941 by the Glenn Miller Orchestra; today, the 1960 version by Etta James is probably the most well known version. It’s never a surprise to hear it at a wedding (where it’s surely been used countless times over the decades). But in a notably unromantic True Blood season — Sookie is not with Bill, Eric or even Alcide anymore, Tara and Pam’s budding romance seems to be going nowhere, Holly is (understandably) mad at Andy Bellefleur for knocking up a fairy and even Jason has yet to get laid – it seemed an odd choice for a show title.
Warning: spoilers ahead, so if you haven’t watched this week’s episode yet, vamoose.
The show used the iconic Etta James version of “At Last,” which pops up at the end of the show as Sookie invites the mysterious Ben Flynn to her house, and she puts the classic record on Gran’s turntable (remember, she’s still living in her late grandmother’s house). All seems to be going well. Very well actually: clothes fly off quicker than usual. But Sookie, usually the hopeless romantic, has other plans… in the form of a anti-vampire fireball she’s conjured, and is holding right behind Ben’s head. “Get the f*** off me or die,” she says, revealing that she’s discovered his true identity: “Warlow!” The guy who killed her parents! Awkward!
But it wasn’t even the most awkward scene of the week. That honor went to Sookie’s brother, Jason and… well, Ben/Warlow. That man is definitely making his way around the Stackhouse family! To be fair, it wasn’t a “real” scene, it was all in Jason’s mind. After getting vampire blood from Ben (while unconscious), he started having the usual erotic dreams/nightmares about his benefactor. In his case, a bathroom session in which the dudes shaved each other (‘s faces). What was playing in the background? Miguel’s “Adorn.”
Radio.com spoke with Gary Calamar about the show’s song selections. “At Last” seemed especially ripe for a remake, and he says that they had a specific artist in mind to it for the episode. “At one point there was some talk about using a great new artist named Lianne La Havas,” he says: but it wouldn’t have been realistic. Sookie’s record collection has been inherited from her Grandmother. ”As hip as Gran was, this is not something she would have had in her vintage record collection.” And given that La Havas debuted in 2011, it would have been chronologically impossible (as Gran died in season 1, which took place in 2008 — or at least that’s when it aired).
“At first I was not in favor of using Etta James’ ‘At Last,’ as it is such a well known classic and I like to throw curveballs whenever I can,” Calamar admits. “But after watching the scene with writer Alex Woo, I realized that this was a bullseye, and classics are classics for a reason!”
As for “Adorn,” it was written into the scene before Calamar even saw the script. “When the writers and producers showed me the scene, this song was in there. Everybody loved it and my mission was to clear it.”
“Apparently ‘Adorn’ was inspired by a series of dreams that Miguel had experienced. That feeling, and the romance of it, worked very beautifully.” Of course, Jason Stackhouse may not agree!
It wasn’t all about love songs though: Andy Bellefleur’s quickly aging (and ill-fated) daughters hit puberty just days after being born. No sooner than they grew their boobs did they steal dad’s ride (a police car, no less!) and took off for the convenience store to score some booze. And although most cruisers don’t have a stereo system, dad’s fortunately did! So, what were they listening to?
Calamar says, “I chose a new band from LA that I am very excited about, Deap Vally. They are starting to get a lot of attention. They rock. Hard. Their band is just two girls with bare bones instrumentation: guitar and drums a la The Black Keys. I felt that their song ‘(She’s A) Wanderer’ really captured these wild fairy ‘teenagers’ joy riding in their daddy’s police car. I’m very pleased that we got this song on our new soundtrack just as we had to go to press to finalize the track list.” Deap Vally just played at the Glastonbury Festival in the UK, as well as a few US festivals. And they’re pretty stoked to be on the show’s soundtrack, judging by a photo they posted to their Facebook page before the episode.
Photo From Deap Vally’s Facebook Page
That’s it for this week’s music, but Calamar shared an additional fun fact about the episode: ”The guy who works at the convenience store is the same guy who worked at the convenience store in the very first scene in episode #1,” he revealed. “I guess good jobs are hard to come by in Bon Temps!”
– Brian Ives, Radio.com