True Blood: Life Matters Because We Die
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. Much thanks to True-Blood.net, who has offered to help us with tracking down the songs of True Blood post-episode.
We've only one episode left in this season of True Blood, a season that I still can't decide if it was brilliant or a sign of further decline. It's taken some truly bizarre turns, but in doing so also made some extremely bold decisions. Perhaps none more than this week.
The death of Terry Bellefleur is damn strange, even though it's a death with no mystery behind it at all. In the midst of the vampire holocaust finally being averted in a complete and utter bloodbath of face stomping and dick-ripping, the episode focuses its entire other half on Terry's funeral.
Perhaps there is not other character you could kill and so perfectly make an audience sad. Certainly no other character managed to come so far from a damaged root into love and happiness. In a sense, it was an experience that was so quintessentially Charlaine Harris that for the first time sense season two I really remembered why I liked the books so much in the first place.
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There's good old fashioned Southern fighting and casual racism at the funeral. There's heartfelt, not at all supernatural stories of the town of Bon Temps coming to re-accept Terry as he struggled with PTSD following his time in the Iraq War, flashbacks of Terry's terrible first obstacles to re-acclimate to society, and Sookie casually using her telepathy to ease the pain of others regardless of how weird it makes her seem.
It really was a triumph of an episode that explores death completely and humanely, which has been real hard to do when you start making everyone vampires. This was the true core of what made the whole Sookieverse enticing. It was the simple story of a small town where there just happen to be vampires. Every episode should be like this one.
Perhaps the best moment of the whole thing was an impromptu song by Big John, Terry's fellow Merlotte's cook. I honestly can't remember when the character was last on the show, yet he stands up near the end of the funeral to deliver his words for the occasion. He does so in song, an original compositions by Nathan Barr for the episode called "Life Matters."
I regret there isn't anyway to post the tune here at the moment. It hasn't been made available for download, nor does anyone have it on YouTube yet. The song is sung in an old black gospel style, and John says it was a favorite of his grandmother's. I have a deep passionate love of classic Southern hymns and popular Christian songs from the first half of the twentieth century. Barr really did a great job on capturing that spirit, and in doing so created the best musical incidental moment since Bill performed "Hard Hearted Hannah" as a young vampire.
The voice comes courtesy of Chris Pierce, who sings with Reverend Tall Tree & The Blackstrap Brothers. Pierce is actually Tara Buck's (Ginger) husband, who was delighted to have an opportunity to be heard on the show in some form.
It's a beautiful tune that I hope we see available for sale soon in some form. Its lyrics so perfectly summed up the magic of this series that drew us all in before. If they can do this, why don't they do it every episode?
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