Welcome to Wednesday’s Blue Light Special. I don’t have a product for you today. Instead, I have a concept and a question.
My husband and I spent about six months re-watching every single episode of The Sopranos on HBOGo.
[Note: if you subscribe to HBO and haven’t activated HBOGo, you should. The service is a wonderful add-on to the channel.]
Episode thirteen of season three, “Army of One” has the whole Sopranos crew going to their favorite restaurant after a funeral. Junior Soprano (played by Dominic Chianese) sings “Core ‘ngrato” in Italian (or is it Sicilian?).
Here is the whole sequence.
If you didn’t watch, that’s okay. I’ll tell you what happened. Most of the attendees are very moved, many of them tearful.
After the episode ended, my husband and I got into a discussion about the song. We wondered what made that particular song so touching to that particular group of people.
I learned the song’s title translates to “Ungrateful Heart,” and it’s the lament of a heartbroken guy to his beloved.
I concluded that the reaction to the song came as much from the group’s shared heritage (Italian) as it did from the song’s sad lyrics. That made sense because The Sopranos is full of references to the characters’ Italian heritage.
That got me thinking about heritage and tradition. I pondered the manner in which members of a shared background cultivate a common identity.
Sometimes that background has to do with ethnicity. Sometimes it has to do with religion. Other times it is socio-economic. And I guess it could be a million other things, too.
All these designations have one thing in common: origins. We all came from somewhere. We had to do certain things, travel certain roads, to get where we are now. Most of us are indelibly marked by those origins. Those things that bind us to our origins awaken strong feelings within us–both positive and negative.
So with all that in mind, I asked my husband if there was any song that made him feel part of a unified group. Without missing a beat, he said, “A Country Boy Can Survive” by Hank Williams II.
At first, I didn’t get why he’d say that. But after a few listens, I agreed with him. That song does illustrate our shared background.
Neither of us identify ourselves with any particular ethnicity–we are both strong Heinz 57 stock. We don’t have a particular religion with which we are affiliated.
But we did both grow up in a time and place where there was a code of sorts: be tough, be self-sufficient, work hard, and stick up for your family and friends. And, most of all, be proud of who you are and were you came from.
So that’s us.