There are so many reasons why The Sopranos is the greatest television show ever, with the musical selection being one of them. Coming from multiple genres and artists large and small, there really is something for everyone. As for me? Read on to learn about my favorite songs from The Sopranos on HBO.
Season 1- Favorite Music on The Sopranos
First, one of my favorite songs from The Sopranos appears right in the Pilot with “Fired Up” by Funky Green Dogs. It comes on at The Bada Bing, a topless bar run by Silvio Dante, Tony’s loyal consigliere. Though it wasn’t on The Sopranos where I first heard “Fired Up.” I actually recall hearing it quite often on the radio when I was younger. This was probably right around the time that they shot the Pilot episode, so I suppose that timing makes sense.
"White Rabbit" by Jefferson Airplane - S1, E7, "Down Neck"
Next, we come to Jefferson Airplane’s “White Rabbit.” This song came on in “Down Neck” (S1, E7) as Tony begins having flashbacks to his childhood when he discovers what his father does for a living. And did you see the game last night? Joey Pepitone, tree RBIs!
After the extraordinary success of season one, The Sopranos season 2 had a hard act to follow. Sure enough, they outdid themselves with the season two opening featuring Frank Sinatra’s “It was a Very Good Year.” I know I speak for many people when I say I think The Sopranos season two is the best season of any television show, period. In any case, this musical opening to season two does NOT disappoint.
"You Can't Put Your Arms Around a Memory" by Johnny Thunders - Season 2, Episode 11, "House Arrest"
Later in season two, one of my favorite songs from The Sopranos—”You Can’t Put Your Arms Around a Memory“—plays at the end of “House Arrest.” What makes this song by Johnny Thunders one of my overall Sopranos favorites is the foreshadowing we see with Tony and Agent Harris making small talk while Big Pussy’s walking back into Satriale’s. It’s those subtle details that make The Sopranos so magnificent.
After “You Can’t Put Your Arms Round a Memory,” we arrive at “Free Fallin‘” by Tom Petty in the season two finale, “Funhouse.” The song starts playing as Tony announces to A.J., Meadow, and Carm that he bought a new boat. After Tony breaks the news, Meadow also announces she’ll be attending Columbia University for college. But the most special moment for me here is the instant transition from the kitchen table to Tony waking up in the backseat of Sil’s car right as we hear the word “Freeeee” and the start of the chorus.
In addition to playing in one of the greatest Sopranos episodes, “Free Fallin‘” has personal sentimental value. I remember listening to this song by Tom Petty quite often while on car rides with my dad to travel soccer games and tournaments.
Next, “Thru and Thru” by The Rolling Stones in “Funhouse” takes goosebumps to a whole new level. The episode’s final seconds with the drum beat accompanied by Tony’s cigar puff and the majestic ocean waves evokes a feeling that’s impossible to put into words. But as a fellow Sopranos fan, you probably understand exactly what I mean.
"Dirty Work" by Steely Dan - Season 3, Episode 1, "Mr. Ruggiero's Neighborhood."
Here, I can’t exactly explain why, but “Dirty Work” by Steely Dan feels fantastic to turn up and listen to while on a drive. I guess Tony and I have something in common here. For what it’s worth, “Mr. Ruggiero’s Neighborhood” isn’t one of my favorite episodes, but it has its moments, and I include this scene among them.
"Livin' on a Thin Line" by The Kinks - Season 3, Episode 6, "University"
Next, The Sopranos has so many great scene transitions that illustrate how they characters are all “Living on a Thin Line.” It makes sense when considering how “Nothing is separate, everything is connected.” 😉
"Black Books" by Nils Lofgren - Season 3, Episode 7, "Second Opinion"
Speaking of living on a thin line, it’s not just Tony and his crew who have to navigate it. Carmela often thinks about the principle’s she’s sacrificed in order to maintain her “bourgeois” lifestyle as the wife of mob boss Tony Soprano. In “Second Opinion” (S3, E7), we hear “Black Books” by Nils Lofgren while Carmela waits outside Meadow’s dorm to be let in, as well as at the end of the episode when Carmela essentially forces Tony to donate $50,000 to Columbia University in “Sunny Harlem”!
"Eclipse" by Pink Floyd - Season 4, Episode 8, "Mergers and Acquisitions"
Additionally, I really enjoy listening to “Eclipse” by Pink Floyd. For me, the song connects very well with the larger Sopranos themes of identity, purpose, and meaning.
Further, I had actually never heard “Little Bird” by Annie Lennox prior to watching The Sopranos. Better late than never! For some reason, this song always gets me in an upbeat mood, though Carmela was surely far from upbeat while it was playing at the end of “Eloise.” Why the long face on Carmela? Well, it’s because her crush, Furio Giunta. had just gone back to Italy without any warning (at least, I think he went back to Italy?)
"Evidently Chickentown" by John Cooper Clarke - Season 6, Episode 14, "Stage 5"
Favorite Music on The Sopranos - Conclusion
Finally, these music choices are totally a personal preference. Speaking of, some additional honorable mentions for me include Inside of Me, World Destruction, Kentucky Fried Flow, Rock the Casbah, American Girl, and This Magic Moment. Truthfully, there are probably at least a couple or three missing here that I’ve temporarily forgotten. If I remember any others, I’ll be sure to update this post. In the meantime, what are some of your picks for greatest music on The Sopranos? Stay in touch and subscribe to Sopranos Blueprint, and here’s the Sopranos Blueprint playlist in case you missed it!