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10 Things You Might Not Know About The Wire's Theme Song!

Published Tue Sep 17 2019 By Travis
10 Things You Might Not Know About The Wire's Theme Song!

'The Wire', when it comes to television and most of the movies, there is no equal to the genius which went behind the creation of one of the greatest shows ever created. The change in narrative and the different story beats which were prevalent in all of the stories told in the five-season of the show is something which was never achieved, neither will it ever be replicated.

There are only a few who would argue the greatness of the show, and most would fail to point out the point which they dislike and made them dislike the show as a whole. The whole series takes place in five different scenarios with the five seasons tackling various areas of the Baltimore urban areas and the problems facing each of the sectors of the city. To tie it all together though, there is the theme song of the series.

Watch: The song by Tom Waits 'Way Down in the Hole' which was used as a theme song for The Wire

‘Way Down In The Hole’ by Tom Waits is the song which plays when the title card of the show comes on screen and clips of various Baltimore natives are shown. The song is easy to miss because every year it feels like a different song by the different artist, but there is a story behind the whole thing, the song and the way it foreshadows what you are about to see in the series from the first moment. So, here are ten things you probably didn’t know about The Wire theme song.

10. Written In Haste

Tom Waits with a folder.

It seems most of the songs in the world which were written without much time and just going off the cuff with the narrative elements is the way to get a hit back in the day. Nowadays a room full of writers get in a room and go over every syllable to hit the right pop note for a specially tailored pop song, it is not the case for the song by Tom Waits. The whole song was written in the Checkerboard Lounge gospel and inside the studio, written and recorded and the song turned out to be one of the most recognized recordings of his career.

9. The Song Is Almost A Gospel Record

Tom Waits older

The whole song is filled with Gospel message, and it is about the tug of war between an evangelist and Frank. The thing is the song leans heavy on Jesus being the savior of mankind, and if people are not careful then when the day he finally arrives again, then the sinful will perish. Good and Evil and the battle between the two sides is documented in the song, and it was an apt way to open a show about good and evil.

8. Walk But Watch Your Back

Tom Waits performing

The first line of the song goes, “When you walk through the garden, you gotta watch your back,” which is a clear message for the show to use. The garden probably means the Garden of Eden, the place created by God and where Adam and Eve were first to reside. The garden is supposed to be a safe place, but sin is going to find a way. The line in the song means when walking the garden, people need to be careful not to be pulled by temptations.

The garden also probably means the place where Jesus prayed for the last time before being betrayed by Judas and being crucified. This is also a great way for the singer to show the prevalence of danger and the fact there are people out to get you everywhere. For a show about police and drug dealers and corrupt officials, this whole line hits right at home.

7. The Album Was Ranked The Fifth Best In 1987

Tom Waits album cover

The song is not the only piece of music in the whole album which talks about the battle between Frank and the Baptist. The song is the most recognized one but the album is filled with the battle between Frank and his deliverance to or punishment from God. The theme and the way the whole thing was collected is the reason why the song is so popular, and the album was considered to be the fifth-best album of 1987.

6. Tom Explained The Song

Tom Waits performing

There are many ways the piece of music from the talented singer can be interpolated, and most of the time, we are just guessing what the artist is trying to say in the particular piece of music. But for Way Down in the Hole, we got a concrete answer as to where and whom the song is based on. The singer said the song is from the perspective of a “berserk evangelist” who is on the path to converting Frank from his destructive ways of booze, women, and drugs. The song was the battle between man and his destructive ways and the messenger of God who thinks he can help the person get to the Promised Land.

5. The Warning From The Messenger Of God

Tom Waits older

Message in the song is clear you need to pray and grab the hand of Jesus to get deliverance. Frank is just a character which was mentioned in the song, but the whole thing is intended for the people and the listeners. Drugs, booze, and women are the way to hell and to find deliverance and way into heaven, people need to stay away from temptations. Frank will most probably be punished for his sins, but it is not too late for everyone else, this song is a warning call to not slide into the temptations and evils of the world.

4. Same Song, Different Versions

The song was released in 1987, and it was okay till the show came into town, then the song was transformed by four different artists for the specific requirements for the show. Like the show was not based on a singular story beat, the song used from the artist was also not based on the original with The Wire using the original song only in the second season of the show. The first and the subsequent shows after the second season used different versions of the song by various artists. Though the later attempt was not as hard-hitting as the first few attempts at revamping the song, at least they did not run it back with the whole thing again in all the seasons of the show.

3. Legendary Singer

Tom Waits older

The singer was not only controlled by one aspect of the music industry with the singer first coming from with jazz influences in the earlier days, but the talented musician moved on to experiment with various other aspects of his music. The singer also transitioned into movies, but the singer is also got critical acclaim for his music which helped propel the artist in new heights and made him the legendary performer he is today. He even got his own music festival outside of New York for crying out loud.

2. Only Two Song Is Recognizable

The thing about The Wire is the series used one theme song for the opening and one for the closing of the show which makes the whole thing memorable for everyone who watches the show. The show is lacking in music, and the only recognizable aspect for the whole thing is the ending and the opening track of the series. The show starts with the obvious theme song, but the end of the show is with 'The Fall' by the singer Blake Leyh. It is, in a way a stamp for the show, the two pieces of music flank the series and provides a cohesive complete story for HBO hit.

1. Specifically Recorded

The Wire utilizes different versions of the same song in the series, but there was a slight change when it comes to the theme song used in the fourth season of the series. In the fourth season of the series DoMaJe, a group from Baltimore were the ones who sang the theme song specifically for the show. The group which consists of Ivan Ashford, Markel Steele, Cameron Brown, Tariq Al-Sabir and Avery Bargasse, the five Baltimore teenagers were on hand to sing the song and the whole thing was recorded specifically and arranged by the request of the show’s creator.

The Wire is definitely one of the best series to ever premiere on television, and the show was more than just a crime drama. It was the whole idea of the show which keeps the legacy of the series so fresh and endearing. And at the end, the music played a huge role in bringing the show together and foreshadowing what is to come in the series. Tom Waits is one of the greats, and his song complimented the whole series perfectly, which is why David Simon chose the song to start out every episode of The Wire.

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