Song of the Day #2,040: ‘Long Hard Times to Come’ – Gangstagrass

justifiedNow that Breaking Bad has disappeared into the New Mexico sunset — following a final season that has deservedly won every year-end award in the universe — I’m left with a giant Walter White-shaped hole in my TV heart.

Breaking Bad might be my favorite show ever, but what will replace it as my favorite show currently on the air?

Mad Men is a complex and artistically stunning work, featuring one of television’s best ensemble casts and a brilliant central performance by Jon Hamm. It would easily earn the crown were it not for a gaggle of smart-ass cops and criminals in Harlan County, Kentucky.

Yes, Justified, produced by Graham Yost and based on characters created by the late, great Elmore Leonard, has captured the flag. This violent, funny gangster/western mash-up is the best show on TV.

I have to thank my parents for introducing me to Justified. Given its subject matter and authorial lineage, it’s a shock I hadn’t discovered it myself.

Nobody writes smooth-talking bad guys like Elmore Leonard (Tarantino learned most of his moves from the master) and Yost and company have captured that style perfectly. The writing room mantra is “What Would Elmore Leonard Do?” and the answer is usually something unexpected, twisted and hilarious.

Timothy Olyphant’s Raylan Givens is a Deputy U.S. Marshal banished from Miami back to his hometown in rural Kentucky because of his itchy trigger finger. He’s the coolest character to ever grace a widescreen TV, casual and quippy in the face of danger. And he’s in a pretty much constant state of danger.

Over its four and a half seasons, Justified has created a rich and real universe, populated with dozens of colorful characters. From Raylan’s acerbic boss and fellow deputy marshals to the rogue’s gallery of lowlifes who orbit Harlan, there is never enough screen time to fit all the awesomeness.

justified_boyd_raylan

Apart from Raylan, my personal favorite is Boyd Crowder, the show’s principal antagonist, played with sardonic relish by the brilliant Walton Goggins. Boyd is a very bad man with a very impressive vocabulary for whom you can’t help rooting no matter how many awful things he does. When you find yourself cheering on a murderer with a large swastika tattoo on his left shoulder, you know that’s some quality writing and acting.

Today’s SOTD is the show’s theme song. The first 30 seconds play over the opening credits. Gangstagrass is a New York-based band that blends hip-hop and bluegrass. It’s the perfect match for the show itself, which is a beautiful blend of urban crime and rural legacy.

Unfortunately, F/X has announced that next year (Justified‘s sixth season) will be its last. So a little more than a year from now, I’ll have to announce a new favorite show.

On this lonely road, trying to make it home
Doing it by my lonesome-pissed off, who wants some
I’m fighting for my soul, God get at your boy
You try to bogart–fall back, I go hard

On this lonely road, trying to make it home
Doing it by my lonesome-pissed off, who wants some
I see them long hard times to come

Verse 1:
My life is ill son… prepared to kill son
A paradox of pain, baby; it’s real son
Lonely traveler, aint trying to battle ya
But if you’re feeling tuff dog, I welcome all challengers
Aint got no family, you see there’s one of me
Might lose your pulse standing two feet in front of me
I’m pissed at the world, but I aint looking for trouble
I might crack a grin, I aint looking to hug you
Think about it, nobody wants to die
There’s rules to this game son, I’m justified
I’m ready to go partner, hey I’m on the run
The devils hugging on my boots that’s why I own a gun
This journey’s too long, I’m looking for some answers
So much time stressing, I forget the questions
I fear no man, you don’t want no problems ‘B’
Eyes in the back of my head, you better not follow me

[Chorus]
On this lonely road, trying to make it home
Doing it by my lonesome-pissed off who wants some
I’m fighting for my soul, God get at your boy
You try to bogart–fall back, I go hard
On this lonely road, trying to make it home
Doing it by my lonesome-pissed off, who wants some
I see them long hard times to come

Verse 2:
You probably think I’m crazy, or got some loose screws
But that’s alright though–I’m a’do me, you do you
So how you judging me? I’m just trying to survive
And if the time comes, I aint trying to die
I’m just trying to fly, and get a little love
Find me a dime piece and get a little hug
Hook the car up–hit the bar up–clean the scars up–hey yo, the stars up
Hey this is the life of an outlaw
We aint promised tomorrow–I’m living now, dog
I’m walking through life. but yo my feet hurt
All my blessings are fed, man I’ll rest when I’m dead
Look through my eyes and see the real world
Take a walk with me, have a talk with me
Where we end up–god only knows
Strap your boots on tight you might be alright

[Chorus]
On this lonely road, trying to make it home
Doing it by my lonesome pissed off who wants some
I’m fighting for my soul, God get at your boy
You try to bogart fall back I go hard
On this lonely road, trying to make it home
Doing it by my lonesome pissed off who wants some
I see them long hard times to come

6 thoughts on “Song of the Day #2,040: ‘Long Hard Times to Come’ – Gangstagrass

  1. Dana says:

    I think it’s clear that Madmen has passed me by, but I still hope to belatedly get enervated is Breaking Bad. As even that time commitment seems doubting at this point, I don’t see picking up Justiied after-the- fact, but your review is compelling, as is this theme song.

    I think I first became aware of this fusion of hip hop and bluegrass from listening to one of Maddie’s favorites, Watsky. It’s a great combination that seems to work better than it ever should.

  2. Amy says:

    I’m rooting for a new theme week of all tv theme songs. I’d love to see you feature the theme song from Orange is the New Black, for instance. As for shows jockeying to be your new favorite, the fact is there are more than you could ever watch that likely could have a claim to that prize. In the past weeks, I’ve had people tell me I “have to watch” Scandal, Veep, Justified, and others, while I have encouraged others to watch Orange is the New Black, True Detective, or Homicide.

    Of course, all of that is just to fill the void that will never be filled from the parting of Friday Night Lights 😦

    Great theme song, and I agree with Dana that it reminds me of a Watsky song (which is actually “Man of Constant Sorrow” rapped – a great song!)

  3. Clay says:

    Stay tuned for the next couple of days… you might just have your wish granted.

  4. pegclifton says:

    Love your review of the show and love the theme song too. My new favorite theme song is from True Detective, but of course it’s from T Bone Burnett so what would you expect. I too love Boyd Crowder and last week I laughed out loud at his “people have accused me of lots of things but never inarticulate” Glad we were able to turn you on to it 🙂

  5. Andrea Katz says:

    Challenge – Watch 4 episodes of Breaking Bad and tell me that you can just walk away. Just try it.
    I will give justified a go. 🙂
    Love all the Watsky references.

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