The song: Cat Power, “Maybe Not”
The episode: “Pilot” (101)
The hook: Chan Marshall’s piano meditation made for a thematically appropriate complement to this complicated “Real or not?” dreamworld drama about Michael Britten (Jason Isaacs), a man whose life was split in two by a car accident. In the waking world, his wife survived instead of his son. When Michael went to sleep, he was transported to a reality in which his son had lived but not his wife. Marshall’s words, “There’s a dream that I see, I pray it can be,” portrayed the bittersweetness of Michael’s fractured existence as he made love to his wife in this state of limbo. Shuttling back and forth between the worlds, Michael echoed Marshall’s notion that “We all do what we can so we can do just one more thing. We can all be free… with your mind.”
Watch it! To sleep, perchance to dream? The scene begins around 23:24 on Awake‘s Hulu. See what Ken Tucker thought of the intricate premiere in his review.
The song: Lynda Kay, “Jack & Coke”
The episode: “Watching the Detectives” (308)
The hook: When music supervisor Greg Sill wanted to portray the down-and-out mental state of Raylan Givens (Timothy Olyphant), he turned to honky-tonk chanteuse Kay. As Raylan sat in the bar he’s lived above since his break-up with Winona (Natalie Zea), Kay sang this alcoholic anthem in the background, proving nothing mixes with “Jack & Coke” quite like steel-guitar sadness. You could hear the desperation in Kay’s voice, and indeed see it in Raylan’s eyes, atop the lyrics, “Well, I wanna get drunk tonight… I don’t care if it ain’t right, just give me a Jack & Coke. I got a scratch that needs itching, and a thirst that needs quenchin’. So shut up with your bitchin’ and pour me a Jack and Coke.”
Watch it! ”Watching the Detectives” isn’t available in full online, but you can read Justified executive producer Graham Yost’s behind-the-scenes take on the episode in his interview with Mandi Bierly, then head over to the show’s official blog and watch Kay perform the song.
BEING HUMAN (BBC America)
The song: Henry’s Funeral Shoe, “Dog Scratched Ear”
The episode: “Being Human 1955″ (402)
The hook: The Welsh power duo’s thrummer was spot-on as vampire-slaying werewolf Tom McNair (Michael Socha) snuck back into his house after a night of bloodsucker bashing. While Tom added a vamp’s teeth to his trophy box, frontman Aled Clifford sang, “Your actions are infectious like a dog scratched ear. The pleasure is high. You’ve been climbing walls, chewing up time, looking for joy when there’s none to find.” Philip John, who directed this episode, explained, “We liked the momentum [this song] brought — the freewheeling rock ‘n’ roll intoxication spoke precisely of Tom’s current and crusading obsession with ridding the world of vampires.”
Watch it! BBC America doesn’t have full episodes of Being Human available online, but you can hear “Dog Scratched Ear” on Henry’s Funeral Shoe’s official site.