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HBO comes through with Treme music playlist

In television on 04/14/2010 at 9:37 pm

As hoped, HBO released a fabulous music playlist after the Sunday-night premiere of Treme on HBO — David (The Wire) Simon’s new drama about a handful of New Orleanians after Katrina.

I tried my best, with my Swiss-cheese musical knowledge and did not too badly, but confused Louis Armstrong’s Do You Know What It Means to Miss New Orleans for Louis Prima’s (but, in my defense, I got the song right and anyway, my music site, grooveshark, doesn’t have the Prima version). My list was a best guess, aided by my iPhone’s Shazam app (introducing me to Mystikal’s Bouncin’ Back and Shake Ya Ass, both blasted by Steve Zahn’s Davis McAlary to the unappreciative neighbours he judges unworthy of the REAL New Orleans).

Anyway, here’s the link to HBO’s site. And thank you HBO. I read in a few of the 45,000 reviews of the show (critics love their David Simon!) that Treme was one of the best organic uses of music in a series. Absolutely dead on. After watching the first three episodes, I have not witnessed music sacrificed to any other purpose but its own power. Nothing maudlin or sentimental. Do You Know What It Means to Miss New Orleans is barely recognizable, playing as it does on the car radio, under the scene in which the disgusted daughter of Clarke Peters’ chief Albert Lambreux tells her brother he must come to New Orleans to talk sense to their father, not because either of them think they will succeed in getting him to leave, but because it’s the brother’s turn to try. She knows what it means to miss New Orleans and she’s okay with that. But does the brother, a professional musician with a more uneasy relationship with his father and his home town?

Some songs begin as performances, at least a half dozen an episode featuring the many fictional (Wendell Pierce’s Antoine Batiste’s trombonist) and real (Kermit Ruffins playing Skokiaan near the end was my fave), but most are snipped off — some with such abruptness, it feels like a punch, and I kind of liked the dramatic violence of it. It’s part of what the series is about: art interrupted and recommenced. It also begs the kind of playlist that HBO has, thankfully, provided.

Now, the HBO playlist has links to sample and buy, via iTunes, but you can take the song titles make your own playlist for free. I found this story on the weekend, which recommends three free playlists. I’m trying out grooveshark and while, as said earlier, it doesn’t have all the tracks for Episode 1, you can get pretty close versions to most of the songs. It’s not authentic Treme, but it’ll do until…

Something to look forward to? Simon told Billboard magazine: “We are planning CD releases for each season, and we are talking to iTunes about offering full musical performance videos on their site. Perhaps one per episode. Nothing’s sealed yet, though.”

Nothing so far (on iTunes, other than promo videos, all free so far), but I’ll keep checking.

And now, I gotta go back to humming I Feel Like Funkin’ It Up.

– Denise Duguay

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