Music can captivate, entertain, and establish a precedent unlike any other medium.
There’s always been one thing I’ve loved about HBO television series.
It’s not the unfiltered realism depicted on screen – although that’s pretty great.
It’s not the quality of acting and directing, although that’s awesome as well.
It’s the sudden shift from story to abstract, as the closing credits roll and the music starts.
This is not the same music that plays during opening credits – that’s always the same song for each unique series. During the closing credits, however, a new song is always played to close each episode. I’m thinking of series like The Wire, The Sopranos, True Blood, and Entourage. (HBO may do this for all series, but these are just a few I have watched recently.)
What I enjoy, particularly, about the closing credits/music to HBO shows, is it’s ability to snap you out of the story in an abrupt fashion – kind of like flipping on the lights in a dark movie theater, or finally hearing the recorded song being played over the loudspeakers after a long music concert, when the band has left the stage for good.
It’s kind of a let down (who likes a good thing to end?), but a promise for more someday.
This music provides a completely different atmosphere from the tone of the concert or screenplay – but one that causes you to still reflect on what you just saw, as well as consider the big picture of it all.
This subtle shift can be done poorly, or just right, as in the case of HBO.
A world apart
The music chosen for closing credits on various HBO shows is very well thought-out. The lyrics typically speak of related ideas or emotions presented during the show. The music itself is often brazen or crude, but sometimes contemplative, and even upbeat. It’s this mixture of tones, moods, and words that get conveyed at the very end of something involved and complex that kind of takes the weight off your shoulder.
You can breathe easy again. It was just a show – a performance for your entertainment. Phew.
Quite often we become so engrossed in the little details and complexity of a show or performance, we really become part of that world.
Nothing snaps you out of it more than a great song that helps put things in perspective, and no one seems to do it better than HBO.