The Music of ‘Walking Dead’ Season 4: A.C. Newman Covers Bill Fay’s ‘Be Not So Fearful’
By Brian Ives
Over the course of nearly four full seasons, ‘Walking Dead’ has used a wide range of music from artists that span nearly every genre and era including Bob Dylan, Motörhead, the Stanley Brothers, Sharon Van Etten, Wang Chung and Tom Waits, whose song “Hold On” was sung by cast member Emily Kinney. For the remainder of the show’s fourth season, we’ll be talking with Thomas Golubic of SuperMusicVision, who helps choose the show’s music, to get the scoop on what you heard last night.
Let us start out by saying: “Spoiler Alert.” If you didn’t watch last night’s episode yet, and you don’t want to have it ruined, stop here and come back after you’ve watched it. What are you waiting for?
If you’re still with us, last night’s music moment came when much of the cast arrived, finally, at Terminus. And the song we heard during that scene was New Pornographer A.C. Newman‘s cover of Bill Fay‘s “Be Not So Fearful,” a song released in 1970 but could have been written for “The Walking Dead.”
The lyrics “Be not so nervous/ Be not so frail/ Someone watches you/ You won’t fail” may have applied to many of the characters when we first met them. “Be not so sorry/ For what you have done/ You must forget them now/ It’s done,” on the other hand, works for many of the characters as we now see them, including Carol (absent this week, but who did the near-unthinkable last week), but also for Tara (Alanna Masterson) who confessed to Glenn (Steven Yeun) that she had sided with the Governor before realizing that she made a mistake the moment he killed Hershel, Glenn’s father-in-law. Glenn may not forget that, but he did forgive; when he introduced Tara to his wife Maggie (Lauren Cohan), he didn’t mention her past, instead talking about her character.
Thomas Golubic told Radio.com about the choice of “Be Not So Fearful”.
“Figuring out the right tone for the arrival to Terminus was tricky,” he said. “They enter the compound guns drawn, wary, and for good reason. As signs of civilization appear, planters, a smoking barbecue, and a warm greeting, they lower their guard. We didn’t want to make the scene triumphant, since nobody knows whether this is truly a safe haven or another dark turn. Bill Fay’s song ‘Be Not So Fearful’ is actually a sad and comforting song. Almost like a lullaby for a scared child.
“Once we selected the song, the trick was figuring out who would be the right artist to perform it. A.C. Newman of The New Pornographers has the sort of simple, sincere, and unadorned voice that [showrunner] Scott Gimple really responds to in the story telling this season. His nuanced performance of Bill Fay’s somber song brings closure to a particularly difficult chapter in our group’s lives, and presents the possibility of a brand new start.”
Newman seemed rather stoked to be included, tweeting during the episode, “Watch tonight’s #TheWalkingDead as I bring my windows-down summer-sunny power-pop to post-apocalyptic Georgia!” and then “Why is Glen the only person in #TheWalkingDead world with riot gear?” (pretty soon he wouldn’t be).
Bill Fay, by the way, is a rather obscure singer/songwriter from the early ’70s who is much adored by a cult audience, which includes the members of Wilco, who have also covered “Be Not So Fearful”; Jeff Tweedy is seen singing it in the band’s documentary I Am Trying To Break Your Heart. He was dropped from his record label after releasing his second album in 1971; his albums remained out of print for decades. In 2012, he released Life Is People, his first album in 40 years.
Next week is the season finale, and while we don’t know what music will be used, if any, we are pretty sure there’s at least one new character with a connection to music — and she’s also someone apt to inspire celebration among sci-fi fans. That woman who our heroes met at Terminus? Denise Crosby! She’s the granddaughter of Bing Crosby, and original “Star Trek: The Next Generation” cast member. Girlfriend probably commands lots of attention at ComicCon, since she’s also appeared on “Dexter,” “Lois and Clark: The New Adventures Of Superman,” “The Flash” and “The X-Files” (she also has a recurring role on “Ray Donovan”).