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.
We're a little more than a month away from the fourth season of True Blood and the return of our weekly coverage of the music Alan Ball and music supervisor Gary Calamar choose to heighten the drama... because blood-drinking, shape-shifting, and Anna Paquin naked are so stale without a soundtrack.
All kidding aside, we've already been lucky to hear the first song wedded to the new season, Joan Jett's cover of "Season of the Witch." Now another new track has emerged, and to be honest, we're viewing it with mixed emotions.
On the plus side of this bloody equation is the fact that the song is song by Neko Case and Nick Cave. Case is a worthy artist, but when you're talking horror and seductive violence there is just no other name more appropriate than Nick Cave, who has consistently redrawn the line between what is beautiful and what is horrifying over the long course of his career.
Sex, murder, and mythology are so much a part of his opus of work as a solo artist or as a member of the Bad Seeds or Grinderman, that you could make a compelling argument that True Blood is really just a long-running daydream of Cave's.
That's the good news. The bad news is that the song is a cover of the Zombies "She's Not There." There is not a single thing wrong with that song. Malcolm McLaren's cover made for one of the greatest musical moments in the Kill Bill films, and that is no small compliment.
It's a good, dark track whose meaning has never really been explained by composer Rod Argent. Fan speculation runs the gamut from a condemnation of an unfaithful woman to a confession of murder. Given the nature of True Blood, we're going to give 4-to-3 odds on those two interpretations.
What bothers us about the use of the song is the fact that this is yet another cover. Previous seasons were pretty cover-heavy as well, though calling modern renditions of prison work songs or spirituals covers may be stretching the strictest definition of the word.
The thing we like about the music of True Blood is the way Ball and Calamar have used it to expose the world to recordings that may have otherwise flown under the radar. While the fact that Case and Cave were specifically tapped to lay down the tracks for the first episode rather than using the Santana cover indicated in the script makes us jump for joy, we'd be much happier with some new, original material.
The modern music scene is already rife with nostalgia. Let's keep blazing a new path in music as well as television.
True Blood returns June 26 on HBO. Be sure to visit the Loving True Blood in Dallas blog, where Jef With One F will be a regular contributor to the podcast this season.
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