Alan Ball was known for his masterful use of music in Six Feet Under. He's lost none of his touch when it comes to his current HBO series, True Blood - which happens to be set in the Louisiana swamps, not terribly far from Houston.
Each season of True Blood is based on a corresponding novel by Charlaine Harris. The first season was based on the first book, the second on the second, etc. The fourth book in the series is our favorite, so it would stand to reason that the fourth season would be or favorite.
Despite a rocky start, this would seem to be the case. We are now well into the circumstances that made that book stand out. The cocky, manipulative Eric Northman has been replaced with a sad amnesiac struggling to find his way in a world of which he, in many ways, was formerly the master. He's basically the protagonist of Coldplay's "Viva la Vida," except without the desire on our part to invent to ways to injure the human body with a weed whacker after listening to it.
However, there are indicators, at least to your humble narrator, that series creator and executive producer Alan Ball is not planning on doing this gig much longer.
By way of a for example, though we were less than thrilled with the overly Ren Fest-y aspects of the faerie corner of the Sookieverse, it's not much better to take a character like Claudine and have her drained to the point of going poof by Eric. In the books, Claudine rocks tits to absolute dust. Now, she is absolute dust.
What this is telling Art Attack is that the world of True Blood is not long for this world. Oh sure, we knew that there was little to no chance that we'd see 13 seasons to match the projected 13-book arc, but we were hoping to get at least seven seasons out of it. However, by having Claudine axed at so early a junction in so brief a way has us convinced that Ball is planning for Season 5, six at the outside, to mark the end of True Blood.
Bye bye easy paycheck.
That's one possibility. Another is that we will see a new Boxing Gandhis album, though it is just as unlikely. Kudos for Ball for digging up one of the more obscure artists in the world to name his episode. Back in the ancient 1990s, Boxing Gandhis managed to funk this track up acoustically, basically bringing strumming soul to the world after being absent since "He's Ain't Heavy, He's My Brother."
The song and episode title is "If You Love Me (Why Am I Dying)," and it is a freakin' doozy. How this song has not become the anthem of a generation is concrete proof that there is a Man and he hates your guts. The Virginia funksters left us in 2001, save for an occasional reunion gig, but they left behind two albums that we are sorely ashamed of not owning.
It's a quiet kind of power, the way a dream become a movement. The way a whisper turns into a scream. It's unfortunate that it gets so short a bill in the episode. We hear less than 30 seconds of the track as Lafayette, Jesus, and Tara decide how they will handle their coven rebooting Eric's brain. The star slot over the credits goes to yet another cover of Donovan's "Season of the Witch."
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We don't know whose it is, but it's not Joan Jett, so we do not care.
A path is laid out before us, friends and enemies, and though we see only a short way down it that does not change the fact that it leads but one way. True Blood is already on its way into the true death, and the music may dance the corporate marketing mating call of the ingenious cover and proven product, but down in its heart there still beats the true blood of genre rebellion and forgotten genius.
You can download the two albums that are all that is left of a funky juggernaut in the realization, but the future has already been written to be over. Prepare yourselves for the end that is nigh.
Be sure to visit the Loving True Blood in Dallas blog, where Jef With One F will be a semi-regular contributor to the podcast this season.