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.
Look, we know that True Blood is a goth show only in the sense that it is the kind of thing that is of interest to goths, and not in the sense that it has any sort of inspiration from goth sources. Goths don't own vampires, we just sort of rent them from the teenagers and soccer moms lately.
Having said that, after four seasons of covering the music used in True Blood, it's nice to finally get some real goth in the form of "Spellbound" by Siouxsie & the Banshees.
"Spellbound" comes from 1981's Juju, which was, for our money, where the Banshees really hit their stride. The Scream and Join Hands more or less coasted on Siouxsie and Steve Severin's initial brilliance, and the personnel changes that led up to Kaleidoscope give the album just a hint of desperation.
Juju has John McGeoch and Budgie really coming into their own on guitar and drums, respectively, and it's their work that gives "Spellbound" the extra lift from great Banshees song to being one of the best early goth songs of all time.
"Spellbound," for obvious reasons, ties in nicely to the latest episode of True Blood. An all-out supernatural war is brewing. On one side are a group of witches led by a very pissed-off spirit from a vampire-led inquisition during the 1600s.
On the other side are the vampires and Sookie. Now, the werewolf and shifter communities may have been drawn into the Bay of Occult Pigs as Alcide rescues Sookie from the first full-on battle of the war when a sniper hits her in the stomach.
Of course, much of the episode is dedicated to a sex scene between Eric and Siouxsie where apparently the sharing of blood and genitals leads to some kind of porno/acid trip. The scenery and imagery utilized in these scenes prompted us to paraphrase Anchorman with the quip, "Narnia is so beautiful! Do me on it!." Anywho, back to the music.
Taking Siouxsie at her literal meaning is never a safe bet. Looking deeper into the song, we don't think that she was singing about someone being under a hex, though of course that's exactly what "juju" means. No, we think that she is relating a more universal experience.
The lyrics point us to that time in all our early childhood when the nighttime sounds all around us are monsters, demons, eaters of children. It's a time when you are faced with a danger that is so overpowering, if imaginary, that you lie completely inert and unable to muster a defense.
And that, in a way, ties in nicely with the deeper implications of what is going on in Bon Temps. After all, vampires, werewolves and witches are all the creatures of fear and nightmare, and we can attest to at least a few nights when we were young when we were certain a man in evening dress with razor blades wedged in his guns was waiting for the first opportunity to relieve us of all our blood.
But here in True Blood, those monsters walk among us, and though they claim otherwise, time and time gain, humans die around them with all the regularity of a mortal warzone. Even faced with the reality of the existence of all that once held us trapped in our beds, we are prone to inaction.
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Maybe that's not what Siouxsie was singing about. Hard to tell with her, and we wouldn't ask her even if we got the chance because, well... she scares us quite badly. Maybe that's why we never say anything even remotely bad about her here in the pages of Art Attack. In our own way, we're just another six-year-old trying not to piss ourselves in terror.
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.