Over the course of its five seasons, True Blood has consistently been one of the best shows on television, not only for fans of vampires but for music fans as well. Each episode is named after a song title, and a number of artists have contributed new recordings to the show. Every week during season six, Radio.com speaks with True Blood Music Supervisor Gary Calamar, who has been nominated for GRAMMYs twice for his work on the show.
This week’s episode — the second to last of a shortened, ten-part season — may have been the best, with a final goodbye to a longtime character and a particularly bloody jailbreak.
(Spoiler alert) Eric — now with extra powers, post-faerie blood binge — returned to vamp camp to release all of the vampires from captivity. A splatter fest followed, which included at least one doctor losing his manparts (the same guy lived long enough to have his face crushed. Though this week’s episode certainly wasn’t for the squeamish, it also featured one of the season’s emotional peaks.
While fans seemed to tire of Terry Bellefleur’s storyline last season (the Gulf War vet was haunted by a spirit he first encountered in the Middle East), his death this season was sad. During his funeral this week, Sookie, Sam, Andy and Lafayette, among others, remembered Terry through a series of flashbacks. Sookie recalled Terry’s first meeting with his widow, Arlene, one night at Merlotte’s where they all first met, back in far simpler times. As the new waitress flirted with Terry (asking to “thank” him for his service to his country after work), a version of “I Wanna Be Your Man” played in the background.
Astute rock fans will recognize that song as one written by John Lennon and Paul McCartney for the Rolling Stones. Released as an early single by the Stones in England in 1963, the song served as a B-side to the Stones’ cover of Buddy Holly’s “Not Fade Away” in the U.S. the following year. The Beatles released their own version on 1963’s With The Beatles, with Ringo Starr on lead vocals.
Even casual Beatles fans know that it’s not easy to get permission to use a Lennon/McCartney composition on television. However, Gary Calamar tells Radio.com that he didn’t need to “glamour” anyone to get it.
“I was recently approached by a publisher who told me that they now owned the rights to some early Beatle songs that are outside of the Sony/ATV/Michael Jackson deal,” Calamar said. “I was skeptical but intrigued. I always loved the Beatles lore of how the Rolling Stones asked Lennon and McCartney for a song for their next single and John and Paul came up with ‘I Wanna Be Your Man.’ Anyway, the publisher played me a badass version of ‘I Wanna Be Your Man’ by an Austin group called Mobley that I thought would be perfect for True Blood. We worked out a nice deal and it works great in the scene. I am always happy to work with The Fab Four any way that I can.”
In related news, Calamar says that the publishing company he worked with will be “releasing an album of these ‘reimagined’ Beatle tracks later this year.” Meanwhile, Mobley’s take on the song appears on the latest True Blood soundtrack.
A somewhat lesser-known songwriter was featured during Terry’s funeral and during the end credits, though admittedly everyone is a lesser-known songwriter than Lennon or McCartney.
“The title song(s) were written by a great Aussie artist Archie Roach for an obscure movie called The Tracker,” Calamar said. “I believe it was our showrunner Brian Buckner who discovered it online. It’s actually two songs combined, ‘Far Away Home / Life Matters.’ We loved Archie’s version but we couldn’t quite get it to fit right at the funeral where Big John was singing it for Terry. So we had a fabulous artist, Chris Pierce, redo the vocals with lovely instrumentation by our composer Nathan Barr. It turned out beautifully and was a fitting farewell to our friend Terry Bellefleur.”
Next week’s season finale is titled “Radioactive,” which is something of a popular song title. Could it be the current Top 10 hit from Imagine Dragons? The song from Gene Simmons’ 1978 solo album, which featured Aerosmith’s Joe Perry on guitar and Bob Seger on backing vocals? Kings Of Leon? Rita Ora? Or how about the biggest hit by the short-lived ’80s supergroup the Firm, which featured Bad Company’s Paul Rodgers and Led Zeppelin’s Jimmy Page? Tune in to find out.