2020s

Soundtracks of Television: ‘Winning Time: The Rise of the Lakers Dynasty’

Winning Time Soundtrack - Every Song in the HBO Series

The Winning Time soundtrack includes music by Lou Rawls, Ketty Lester and Rokotto. This info article contains spoilers for Max Borenstein and Jim Hecht’s HBO series. Visit the Soundtracks of Television section for more Vague Visages music guides.

Winning Time stars John C. Reilly as Jerry Buss, an American businessman who purchases the Los Angeles Lakers in 1979. Quincy Isaiah co-stars as Earvin “Magic” Johnson, a #1 pick who elevates the franchise’s value. The storyline follows various subplots as Buss and company compete for NBA championships. Composers Nicholas Britell (Succession) and Robert Glasper (The Photograph) scored the HBO series, which features The Coup’s “My Favorite Mutiny” as the theme song. In addition, music coordinator Henry Van Roden (The Walking Dead) assisted with the featured needle-drops. Here’s every song in Winning Time, an adaptation of Jeff Pearlman’s 2014 book Showtime: Magic, Kareem, Riley, and the Los Angeles Lakers Dynasty of the 1980s.

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Winning Time Soundtrack: Every Song in Season 1, Episode 1 “The Swan”

Winning Time Soundtrack on HBO - Every Song in Season 1, Episode 1

  • “Bring It On Home” by Lou Rawls (00:13): The Winning Time soundtrack song scores a coin flip sequence. Various characters wait for a quarter to drop. The Los Angeles Lakers win the #1 pick.
  • “Love Letters” by Ketty Lester (00:18): Jerry Buss narrates about the legacy of Jerry West (Jason Clarke). The music plays during a flashback montage. West wins MVP yet continues to lose.
  • “New Generation” by The Universals (00:20): Norm Nixon (DeVaughn Nixon) introduces himself to the audience. He discusses Magic Johnson while receiving a pedicure. Norm thinks about his future as the Lakers’ point guard.
  • “TBA” by TBA (00:22): Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (Solomon Hughes) listens to jazz music in a trailer. Norm arrives and tries to get his teammate’s attention. The Winning Time soundtrack song drops when Kareem takes his headphones off.
  • “The Dancing Bumble Bee/Bumble Boogie” by Neil Diamond” (00:37): Magic arrives at a “white party.” He puts on a jacket and enters as people watch. Jerry Buss introduces Magic to Donald Sterling (Kirk Bovill).
  • “Lift This Hurt” by Elvin Spencer (00:39): Jerry Buss introduces Magic to Norm. The music plays at a party. Norm inquires about Magic’s upbringing.
  • “The Love We Share” by Branch Estate (00:40): The Winning Time soundtrack song accompanies a party sequence. Norm offers advice to Magic. He urges him to return to Michigan State University.
  • “TBA” by TBA (00:41): Norm makes a jump shot at a party. He plays one-on-one against Magic. The music cuts as Norm makes fun of his potential teammate.
  • “Night and Day” by Fred Astaire (00:56): Jerry West breaks a window. The music kicks in during an exterior shot of Circus Liquors. Jerry Buss buys a bottle of booze and enjoys himself at The Forum.
  • “Are You Ready” by Rokotto (00:58): The Winning Time soundtrack song plays during the end credits.

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Winning Time Soundtrack: Every Song in Season 1, Episode 2 “Is That All There Is?”

Winning Time Soundtrack on HBO - Every Song in Season 1, Episode 2

  • “Walkin’ You Home” by Tony Butala (00:04): Jerry West finishes a sexual encounter. The Winning Time soundtrack song plays as he asks a woman if she wants to stay.
  • “Is That All There Is?” by Peggy Lee (00:05): Jerry West’s sexual partner leaves. The spoken work track plays during a stylized slo-mo sequence.
  • “Way Outside You” by Up With People (00:20): Cookie greets Earvin. The characters embrace as the music plays during a home sequence. Earvin has a passive-aggressive conversation with Brian (Carter Redwood).
  • “I Can’t Give Up on You” by The Remarkables (00:32): Jerry West ends a conversation with Kareem. The Winning Time soundtrack song scores a brief cityscape sequence. Earvin speaks with Earleatha (“Cookie”) about his mother.
  • “Out Here on Your Word” by Johnnie Frierson (00:34): The music accompanies a fish fry scene. Earvin speaks with his mother and Cookie. He gives a wad of money to a surprised Brian.
  • “Maryanne from Birmingham” by Geoffrey Gascoyne (00:35): Jerry Buss arrives at a restaurant. He is greeted by Bruno. Jerry introduces Red Auerbach (Michael Chiklis) to a couple of women.
  • “The Wonder of It All” by Up With People (00:42): The Winning Time soundtrack song plays during a sex sequence. Earvin hooks up with a woman in Michigan. They discuss his relationship with Cookie.
  • “Rappers Delight” by The Sugarhill Gang (00:43): Earvin shows off a new vehicle. Various neighborhood kids circle around him to take a look. Brian and Cookie observe from afar.
  • “Out of Sight, Out of Mind” by Dick Flood (00:49): Jerry West argues with Karen (Lola Kirke). The track scores a flashback sequence. The music fades as Earvin narrates about his nickname origin story.
  • “Somebody’s Gonna Lose or Win” by The Hygrades (00:58): Jerry West resigns as the Lakers head coach. The Winning Time soundtrack song plays during the credits.

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Winning Time Soundtrack: Every Song in Season 1, Episode 3 “The Best Is Yet to Come”

Winning Time Soundtrack on HBO - Every Song in Season 1, Episode 3

  • “Il Y A Bien Trop De Fille” by Sacha Distel (00:15): Pat Riley (Adrien Brody) kisses Chris (Gillian Jacobs) while looking at his father’s baseball bat. The Winning Time soundtrack song continues as Jerry buss speaks with Jessie Buss (Sally Field) and Jeanie.
  • “Bobby Bobylon” by Freddie McGregor (00:16): Earvin reunites with Norm. They hang out and discuss style. Norm criticizes Earvin’s appearance.
  • “Hey You” by Experience Unlimited (00:29): Earvin visits Hollywood with Norm. They discuss an upcoming movie premiere. The music fades as the characters chat about Jerry Buss’ intentions.
  • “Whole Lotta Your Love” by Lee Hurst (00:49): The Winning Time soundtrack song scores a phone call scene. Earvin speaks with Cookie about his L.A. experiences. He wants more than industry “side hustles.”
  • “Something’s Bad” by The Chosen Few (00:51): Jerry West talks with Karen (Lola Kirke). The music accompanies an intimate moment. Jerry gets distracted.
  • “The Good Life” by Bobby Darin (00:53): Jerry Buss drives around with Jeanie. He states that the potential new head coach, Jerry Tarkanian (Rory Cochrane), is the “last piece” for the upcoming Lakers season. The Winning Time soundtrack song continues as Jerry makes a “falling plane” analogy.
  • “TBA” by TBA (00:55): An unidentified song plays during the end credits.

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Winning Time Soundtrack: Every Song in Season 1, Episode 4 “Who the F**k Is Jack McKinney”

Winning Time Soundtrack on HBO - Every Song in Season 1, Episode 4

  • “Pretty Woman Pass On By” by Richard Marks (00:13): The Winning Time soundtrack song scores a brief montage. Paul Westhead (Jason Segel) and Jack McKinney (Tracy Letts) arrive at the Ocotillo Lodge. The characters discuss the past year.
  • “Art’s a Happy Man” by The Plastic Cloud (00:33): Jeanie hangs out with Linda Zafrani (Molly Gordon) and Lon Rosen (Joey Brooks). She explains her motivations for interning. The characters smoke marijuana as the music plays.
  • “Pink Deville” by Paul Rothman (00:34): Jerry Buss discusses The Laker Girls with Claire. He eats lobster and listens to a “Disneyland Meets The Playboy Club  at the Oscars” proposal. Jerry likes the idea.
  • “Kings and Queens” by Jay Ramsey (00:44): Jessie warns Jeanie about getting “too close” to the family business. The Winning Time soundtrack song plays during a Monopoly sequence. Jeanie inquires about “money stuff.”
  • “Song of a Gypsy” by Damon (00:52): Earvin speaks to himself at 5:58 a.m. in the morning. He prepares and delivers juice to Kareem.
  • “Right On” by Carleen & The Groovers (00:59): Jerry Buss listens to a pitch from Claire and Jeanie. He states that “It’s showtime.” The Winning Time soundtrack song scores the end credits.

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Winning Time Soundtrack: Every Song in Season 1, Episode 5 “Pieces of a Man”

Winning Time Soundtrack on HBO - Every Song in Season 1, Episode 5

  • “Keepin’ It Movin'” by Robby D feat. Heli Sterner (00:05): The Winning Time soundtrack song scores a Laker Girls choreography sequence. Jerry Buss says “I want sex!” Jeanie suggests a little more hip movement.
  • “(Not Just) Knee Deep” by Funkadelic (00:19): Earvin enters the Lakers locker room with a boombox. He sings and says, “EJ the DJ coming to you live and direct from game one.” Spencer Haywood (Wood Harris) arrives and greets Kareem.
  • “Brick House” by Commodores (00:26): Kareem prays before a basketball game. He is interrupted by music from the next room. Earvin holds a boombox.
  • “I Love Dancin'” by Tisa Weathersbee (00:31): Jeanie speaks with choreographer Paula Abdul (Carina Conti) on a football field. She asks her to be the head Laker Girl as the Winning Time soundtrack song continues. Paula enthusiastically accepts the position.
  • “Pieces of a Man” by Gil Scott-Heron (00:39): Kareem lashes out after an argument with Earvin. The track scores a news montage about the deaths of Black political figures. Kareem arrives at a mosque as the music fades.
  • “Ring My Bell” by Anita Ward (00:44): Jerry meets with Jeanie and Claire. He grins while watching the Laker Girls perform. The track plays again at 00:52 during the season opener.
  • “Get In a Hurry” by Eugene Blacknell, The New Breed (00:51): The 1979-80 Lakers season begins. Earvin and his teammates are introduced.
  • “Get It Down” by Rokotto (00:54): Chick and Pat discuss the new-look Lakers. The music continues during a victory montage. “Get It Down” drops as Jack meets with Paul.
  • “Good Vibrations” by The Beach Boys (00:57): Jack enjoys his morning. He rides his bicycle and falls over the handle bars due to a brake malfunction. The Winning Time soundtrack song plays during the end credits.

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Winning Time Soundtrack: Every Song in Season 1, Episode 6 “Memento Mori”

Winning Time Soundtrack on HBO - Every Song in Season 1, Episode 6

  • “Foot Print in the Sand” by Christophe Canavaggio, Sean Henry (00:01): Paul arrives at The Forum. The Winning Time soundtrack song continues as he looks for Jack. Pat watches game footage and chats with Paul.
  • “Dive Bar” by Paul Moran (00:10): Jerry Buss hangs out at The Beverly Hills Hotel. The music scores a brief montage sequence. Jerry receives a champagne gift from Jack Nicholson (Max E. Williams).
  • “Iz Ya Funkin’ Tonight” by Bright Moments (00:21): Jerry Buss welcomes people to The Forum Club. Disco music plays as patrons dance. Dr. Mike (Joshua Weinstein) offers cocaine to various Lakers.
  • “I’d Rather Go Blind” by Etta James (00:27): The Winning Time soundtrack song accompanies a locker room sequence. Magic argues with Cindy (Rachel Hilson). The characters have oral sex.
  • “Touch” by Black Ice (00:30): Jerry Buss entertains people from Great Western Bank. He receives a six-month loan extension. Jerry breaks the fourth wall and speaks to the audience.
  • “Go For It” by Spirit of the Brotherhood (00:30): Wesley (Blake Cooper Griffin) from Great Western Bank clarifies his offer. Jerry Buss negotiates a revised deal. He predicts an NBA championship in May.
  • “Lickety Lips” by Orchestra Addy Flor (00:39): Phil Knight (Olli Haaskivi) of Nike attends the National Sporting Goods Convention. Magic chats with Dr. Thomas Day (Steve Harris) from Converse. The Winning Time soundtrack song continues during an elevator sequence.
  • “Dear Mr. Fantasy” by Traffic (00:41): Jerry Buss smokes a cigarette on a balcony. He looks after Jessie. Jerry speaks to the audience about his father.
  • “Prove Your Love” by Fleetwood Mac (00:44): Jerry Buss tells Jeanie to “get it together.” Paul visits Jack in a hospital room. He later sits in his vehicle outside The Forum.
  • “Nobody Knows” by Pastor T.L. Barrett & The Youth for Christ Choir (00:55): Dr. Day meets with Cookie. He delivers tickets for a Lakers game against the Detroit Pistons in Michigan. The Winning Time soundtrack song scores the end credits.

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Winning Time Soundtrack: Every Song in Season 1, Episode 7 “Invisible Man”

Winning Time Soundtrack on HBO - Every Song in Season 1, Episode 7

  • “Twice as Nice” by Eddie Horan (00:16): The Lakers lose to the Indiana Pacers. Magic talks about an upcoming trip to Michigan. The Winning Time soundtrack song plays as a woman flashes her breasts and trolls the Lakers.
  • “Santa’s Got a Bag of Soul” by The Poets of Rhythm (00:19): Jerry Buss tells Jack that he’s about to “feel the wrath of the Top Hat.” The music continues during a Lansing, Michigan montage. Cookie applies makeup and imagines a news reporter talking to her about Magic.
  • “Xmas Commercial Blues” by Nancy Lee feat. Al Johnson & Soul-Jers (00:21): Cookie says that she doesn’t need a wedding ring. Magic speaks to the press on Christmas Day. Cookie arrives at a hotel and observes “the center of attention.”
  • “Christmas on the Beach of Waikiki” by Paul Page, Paradise Music (00:23): Pat stares at himself in a mirror. He works on his “Coach Riley” persona. Jerry West talks with Paul at a diner.
  • “Mr. Santa Claus (Santa Claus Helping Hand)” by Richard Marks (00:25): The Lakers lose to the Detroit Pistons. Pat spots Paul after the game. The coaches chat as the Winning Time soundtrack song fades.
  • “Thousand Years from Today” by The Hearts (00:26): Earvin Sr. and Christine host a Christmas dinner. Magic talks with his father about business.
  • “A Dram and a Jam” by Cy Jack, Duncan Aran (00:29): Norm tells a story about Bill Russell. A Boston resident leaves a “man shit” in the player’s bed. Norm says, “Different kind of white people over there.”
  • “You Were Using Me” by Charles Hodges (00:30): Kareem chats with Earvin Sr. about Magic as the Winning Time soundtrack song plays. He inquires about his teammate’s “happy” personality. Earvin Sr. jokes about Magic’s demeanor “since his first breath.”
  • “Strange Fruit” by Billie Holiday (00:32): Earvin Sr. talks with Kareem about his upbringing. He says that black men were “gator bait” when he grew up in Mississippi. He briefly sings the Billie Holiday classic, a song about racism and lynchings.
  • “Something Bad” by The Chosen Few (00:32): Rhonda arrives at the Johnson home. She is greeted by Magic. The characters embrace and talk about Cookie.
  • “And If I Had” by Teddy Pendergrass (00:39): Magic and Cookie share an intimate moment. The Winning Time soundtrack song sets in as the characters kiss. Cookie tells Magic to call from Boston after he whoops Larry Bird.
  • “Something Special to Do” by The Rondels feat. Steve King (00:41): The track scores a Boston montage. The Lakers arrive at Logan International Airport. Boston Celtic fans heckle Magic and company.
  • “Satan Is Real” by The Louvin Brothers (00:43): Larry Bird (Sean Patrick Small) arrives for a press conference. He holds a a can of Budweiser and wears leather boots. Magic stares at his rival in alignment with the title lyric.
  • “Soul Freedom” by Ray & His Court (00:47): The music accompanies a Boston Garden montage. Jerry Buss arrives at his seat. He receives a special gift from Red Auerbach.
  • “Through Thick N’ Thin” by Loosely Tight (00:49): Larry Bird trolls two Laker defenders. He tells them what he’s about to do. The Winning Time soundtrack song continues as Michael Cooper says “That leprechaun’s for real!”

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Winning Time Soundtrack: Every Song in Season 1, Episode 8 “California Dreaming”

Winning Time Soundtrack on HBO - Every Song in Season 1, Episode 8

  • “Any Way You Want It” by Journey (00:05): The 1980s begin. Magic speaks to reporters after making the NBA all star team. The Winning Time soundtrack song continues as he responds to an unflattering player poll.
  • “When I’m with You” by Johnny Amoroso (00:17): Magic and Cookie attend an All Star luncheon event. They spot Julius “Dr. J” Erving (James Lesure). Magic tells Cookie to “play it cool.”
  • “Jungle Fever” by Cynthia Richards (00:24): Jerry Buss watches the NBA all star game with Jessie and Jeanie. He prepares to eat a meal from Kentucky Fried Chicken. Jeanie vomits after correlating “breast” and “69” with her father’s personal life.
  • “Believe Me” by The Dee Jays (00:37): Pat smokes a cigarette with his wife, Chris. The Winning Time soundtrack song scores a Philadelphia montage. Jack and Paul pose for a photo at Nick’s Cafe.
  • “Get Down Tonight” by KC and the Sunshine Band (00:49): The Lakers plays the Philadelphia 76ers. Julius throws down a windmill dunk over Magic. Kareem says, “Looks a little bit different up close.”
  • “California Dreaming” by Lee Moses (00:55): Jerry sits in a vehicle with Lucia (Natalia Cordova-Buckley). He cries while thinking about his sick mother. Jerry fondles Lucia; Jerry West speaks with Magic about his commitment to winning.

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Winning Time Soundtrack: Every Song in Season 1, Episode 9 “Acceptable Loss”

Winning Time Soundtrack on HBO - Every Song in Season 1, Episode 9

  • “All Because of You” by Al Hazan feat. The Starr Sisters (00:18): The Winning Time soundtrack song scores a brief night montage. Jerry Buss breaks into Pickfair with Jeanie and Jessie. The music drops as the characters talk by a pool.
  • “Tusk” by Fleetwood Mac (00:41): Jerry Buss allows Pat and Paul to coach the rest of the season. The music continues during a transition sequence. Magic adds to his underwear drawer; Kareem exercises outside.

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Winning Time Soundtrack: Every Song in Season 1, Episode 10 “Promised Land”

Winning Time Soundtrack on HBO - Every Song in Season 1, Episode 10

  • Golden Time of Day” by Maze & Frankie Beverly (00:18): The Winning Time soundtrack song scores a TWA flight sequence. Magic boards a plane with a boombox. He entertains his colleagues by singing along to the music.
  • “Back On the Streets Again” by Tower of Power (00:24): A Philadelphia 76ers montage begins. Graphics identify the star players. The song drops as Magic smiles.
  • “Hog of the Road” by Z-Cars (00:23): Magic jokingly taunts Julius Erving. He arrives at half court as an NBA Finals game begins. Magic decides to compete for the opening tip.
  • “Standing on the Verge of Getting It On” by Funkadelic (00:42): Magic dunks and smiles at a TV camera. Various people celebrate during a montage. The Winning Time soundtrack song continues as the Lakers win the NBA championship.

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