Thursday, January 31, 2013

No. 490 – I Feel Free

Performer: Cream
Songwriters: Jack Bruce, Pete Brown
Original Release: Fresh Cream
Year: 1966
Definitive Version: None

On the one hand, I’ve already written about The Sopranos. On the other hand, I would be remiss if I didn’t at least mention how that show got me into this song.

Because Debbie was a huge Eric Clapton fan, as I’ve mentioned, she was into Cream pretty heavily, not that I had a problem with that. She knew this song real well, but I didn’t when we first started dating. I went through a big Cream/Blind Faith phase in 1998, as I also have mentioned, and then it faded—as did any affection for this song.

Fast forward another year. I’d been watching The Sopranos since finding it late one night, as I mentioned, and the season was building to a climax. I don’t want to get too into the details. If you’ve seen the show, you know this already. If you haven’t, rent or buy the first season. Trust me: You won’t regret it.

Each episode, of course, ends with a particular song on fade out as the credits start to roll. All season long, it had been stark acoustic numbers, oldies, Frank—stuff you would associate with a story about the mob.

Then we get to the second-to-last episode, which was nothing short of riveting. It wound up with Tony Soprano on the phone talking to his shrink, saying “All in all, I feel pretty good. When I find out who took a shot at me, I’ll feel even better.” Cue this song’s vocal intro and jaunty Sixties-rock pace.

It was astonishing—not only because it was the first rock song used all season, but also because it produced what, in my inexpert opinion, was a perfect ending. A perfect ending is not to be dismissed, because they are so rare. A perfect ending can take your breath away, at least it can for me. Examples include: A River Runs Through It, Goodfellas, the finale of Six Feet Under.

The Sopranos had two: the aforementioned second-to-last episode of the first season and the last episode of the first season, which featured State Trooper from Bruce Springsteen’s Nebraska album as the credit closer.

All writers aspire to nail it at least once, and David Chase did it on back-to-back episodes of a single show, in my opinion. Needless to say, but I’ll say it anyway, the pressure will be on me to stick the dismount when we finally reach the end of this here blog next year.

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