1990s

Soundtracks of Television: ‘The Sopranos’ Season 1, Episode 1 (‘Pilot’)

The Sopranos Soundtrack - Every Song in Season 1, Episode 1

The Sopranos soundtrack for season 1, episode 1 features music by Sting, Jefferson Airplane and Connie Francis. This Vague Visages info article contains spoilers for the 1999 HBO episode. Check out more music guides in the Soundtracks of Television section.

Written and directed by David Chase, The Sopranos’ first episode primarily focuses on the perspective of series antihero Tony Soprano (James Gandolfini). The New Jersey mobster recalls a recent panic attack while speaking to his therapist, Dr. Melfi (Lorraine Bracco), and has a nightmare about a bird flying away with his penis. As a whole, “Pilot” explores themes of masculinity, vulnerability and loyalty, especially between two main members of the DiMeo crime family. Here’s every featured song in The Sopranos soundtrack for season 1, episode 1.

The Sopranos Soundtrack: Every Song in Season 1, Episode 1 “Pilot”

The Sopranos Soundtrack - Every Song in Season 1, Episode 1

  • “Welcome (Back)” by Land of the Loops (00:04): Tony visits with Dr. Melfi and reflects about getting sick. He worries that “the best is over” and believes that his late father — a less successful man — lived a more valuable life. The Sopranos soundtrack instrumental takes viewers into Tony’s mind as he reads The Star-Ledger.
  • “Who Can You Trust?” by Morcheeba (00:05): Tony remembers two wild ducks that showed up at his pool. The reference to “ducklings” correlates with the gangster’s subconscious thoughts about his wife and children. Michele DeCesare, the daughter of The Sopranos creator David Chase, makes her first appearance as Hunter Scangarelo.
  • “Shame, Shame, Shame” by Shirley & Company (00:06): Hunter talks with Tony’s daughter, Meadow (Jamie-Lynn Sigler), about the ducks. Carmela (Edie Falco) wishes a happy birthday for her son, A.J. (Robert Iler), and asks the girls if they want some sfogliatelle (a pastry that’s native to the Campania region of Italy where Tony’s family emigrated from). The Sopranos soundtrack song fades as Carmela looks at her husband disapprovingly and says “Him… with those ducks.”
  • “I’m So Happy I Can’t Stop Crying” by Sting (00:07): The song plays directly after Tony tells Dr. Melfi that Carmela thinks Hunter could negatively influence Meadow. At the Soprano residence, Falco’s character refers to her husband as “Birdman” and indirectly references his therapist meetings. The music cuts as Tony informs Dr. Melfi that he can’t talk about his personal life.
  • “Other Side of This Life” by Jefferson Airplane (00:08): Tony discusses the day he collapsed. He drives with his “nephew” Christopher Moltisanti (Michael Imperioli), who is learning the business and thus living a double life — a thematic connection to the song lyrics. The Sopranos soundtrack music cuts when the mobsters spot Alex Mahaffey (Michael Gaston), a man who owes them money. Dr. Melfi warns Tony about talking too much about the “other side” of his waste management life.
  • “I Wonder Why” by Dion and the Belmonts (00:10): Tony lies to Dr. Melfi and tells her that he only had coffee with Mr. Mahaffey. A flashback shows Christopher chasing the man and getting kicked. The throwback pop music is used playfully as Tony tracks down Mahaffey and hits him with a car. The musical  moment feels reminiscent of a Martin Scorsese movie.
  • “Rumble” by Link Wray (00:12): Tony tells Dr. Melfi about a breakfast meeting at Centanni’s Meat Market/Satriale’s. Salvatore “Big Pussy” Bonpensiero (Vincent Pastore) tells his boss about local businessmen, the Kolar brothers, who aren’t showing the appropriate amount of respect. Silvio Dante (Steven Van Zandt) shows up for some gabagool (capocollo). The Sopranos soundtrack instrumental fades when Tony references a “situation” with his long-time pal Artie Bucco (John Ventimiglia), and the music then picks up again when it’s revealed that Junior Soprano (Dominic Chianese) — Tony’s uncle — wants to kill Pussy Malanga at Artie’s restaurant, Bucco’s Vesuvio.
  • “Can’t Be Still” by Booker T. & the M.G.’s (00:13): The song kicks in as Tony heads to Bucco’s Vesuvio. Christopher states that it will be bad for business if someone gets killed in the restaurant. “Can’t Be Still” correlates with Tony’s demeanor while trying to pinpoint the best course of action.
  • “Who’s Sorry Now?” by Connie Francis (00:17): Tony visits his mother, Livia (Nancy Marchand), and brings her a CD player. The mobster plays music by Connie Francis while awkwardly trying to slow dance. Tony and Livia argue about a nursing home and Junior’s business methods. Gandolfini’s character also refers to his mother as “a broken record.”
  • “La Rondine: Chi il bel sogno di Doretta” by Renee Fleming, English Chamber Orchestra, Jeffrey Tate (00:19): The Sopranos soundtrack music scores a grilling sequence. Tony cackles at the ducks in his pool. He then experiences a panic attack as the birds fly away; a moment that triggers subconscious thoughts about being abandoned.
  • “I’m a Man” by Bo Diddley (00:22): Christopher stands in the darkness at Centanni’s. Emil Kolar (Bruce Smolanoff), one of the businessmen causing problems, arrives for a meeting. Christopher kills “E-mail,” and the music drops after the lyric “I’m a man / Spelled M.” To reinforce the message, Chase includes visuals of traditional leading men such as Humphrey Bogart, Dean Martin and Edward G. Robinson.
  • “The Rockford Files Theme” by Mike Post (00:30): Tony and his family visit a retirement community with Livia. The Sopranos soundtrack music functions as a nod to the 70s series The Rockford Files, as Chase worked as a writer on 20 episodes of the NBC show. Tony has another panic attack and faints.
  • “Fired Up!” by Funky Green Dogs (00:33): The songs plays at the Bada Bing! strip club. Christopher talks with Hesh Rabkin (Jerry Adler) about Mahaffey’s late payment. Tony states that Junior wants to kill Little Pussy, not Big Pussy — “You think he’s gonna fuck with Big Pussy? My Pussy?”
  • “Lumina” by Joan Osborne (00:36): Meadow listens to the song in her bedroom. Carmela urges her to continue their annual tradition of having tea at the New York Plaza Hotel. The  idealistic lyrics of The Sopranos soundtrack tune contrast with Meadow’s stern-headed demeanor, at least in this particular moment, suggesting that she’s no longer the little girl that Carmela wants her to be.
  • “Little Star” by The Elegants (00:41): Dick Barone (Joe Lisi) meets with Tony and Paulie “Walnuts” Gualtieri (Tony Sirico). He states that the Kolar brothers withdrew their bid for the Triboro Towers. The lyrics thematically link with Tony’s influence.
  • “Tardes de Bolonha” by Madredeus (00:42): Dr. Melfi visits a restaurant. Her date, Nils Borglund (Phil Coccioletti), complains about his reservation to Adriana La Cerva (Drea de Matteo). Tony arrives with his gumar (mistress) — Irina Peltsin (Siberia M. Federico) — and says hello to his therapist. Nils is impressed when Tony immediately gets Dr. Melfi a table.
  • “WCPM Ballroom Dance Orchestra” by Latido (00:43): Tony and Irina have fun aboard The Stugots. The mobster’s gumar wears a captain’s hat that was once worn by John F. Kennedy. Tony states that he doesn’t have an intimate relationship with Dr. Melfi.
  • “No More ‘I Love You’s'” by Annie Lennox (00:54): Artie speaks with Tony about a recent fire at Bucco’s Vesuvio. The Sopranos soundtrack song plays lightly during the conversation. Tony states that “Hope comes in many forms,” knowing that he’s responsible for torching Artie’s beloved business. The music continues as Christopher complains about not getting any respect for resolving the Triboro Tower conflict.
  • “The Beast in Me” by Nick Lowe: Tony’s guests leave his backyard. Chase, who directed the episode, pans to the now-empty pool. The Sopranos soundtrack music plays over the final shot in “Pilot,” with the moment suggesting that Tony is trapped in the world he created for himself.

Q.V. Hough (@QVHough) is Vague Visages’ founding editor.

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