Song of the Day #2,811: ‘Way Down in the Hole’ – Steve Earle

wire_season_fiveThe fifth and final season of The Wire focuses on the staff of The Baltimore Sun, with editors and reporters serving as fictionalized stand-ins for David Simon’s former co-workers at the same publication.

Simon paints unflattering portraits of the paper’s top editors, who are more eager to win prizes than practice ethical journalism. Tom McCarthy (who later went on to direct and co-write the Oscar-winning Spotlight) plays a Stephen Glass-esque reporter who is celebrated by the bosses even when the accuracy of his stories is questioned.

Working at a newspaper for a couple of decades myself, I found many details of Season Four spot-on, but others a bit too on-the-nose. The editor and managing editor are the only two characters in all five seasons of The Wire who feel like caricatures rather than fully realized human beings. I felt deep empathy for drug dealers and murderers but the newspaper editor may as well be twirling his moustache while tying a woman to railroad tracks.

That quibble aside, Season Five does a masterful job tying together almost all of the loose ends served up in Seasons One through Four. Old characters return, perennial characters are given closure (or not). The tapestry of people and institutions that make up the city of Baltimore is laid out in final, beautiful fashion.

Breaking Bad and Friday Night Lights are my first and second favorite TV shows of all time. The Wire is battling it out with a few other contenders for the third spot.

Singing the final season’s version of ‘Way Down in the Hole’ is Steve Earle, who also plays a supporting role on the show as a drug counselor.

When you walk through the garden
You gotta watch your back
Well I beg your pardon
Walk the straight and narrow track
When you walk with Jesus
He’s gonna save your soul
You got to keep the devil
You gotta keep him
Down in the hole

He’s got the fire people
He’s got the fury
At his command
You don’t have to worry
Hold on to hold on to Jesus’ hand
We’ll all be safe from Satan when the thunder
When the thunder starts to roll
We got to keep the devil keep him on down
Down in the hole

That red horned lousy low life
Underneath our boots
Praise the Lord
I don’t know what it is
Two dollar
That demon meister
Three dollar
That prince devil
Just see if you can come up with a figure
That matches your faith
You say how much has Jesus done for you
And we got to go in with our
Hydraulic system and blast him out
People can I get an amen

All the angels
They start to sing
All about Jesus’ mighty sword
And they’ll shield you with their wings
People they’ll keep you close to the Lord
Now don’t pay heed to temptation
For his hands are so cold
You gotta keep the Devil
Keep him on down in the hole
Down in the hole
Down in the hole
Down in the hole

Well people I got to speak about something
Can I get an amen
Can I get a hallelujah
Praise the lord
Have mercy
The lord is a very very busy man
I do what I can
But Jesus is always going for the big picture
But he’s always there to help us out of the little jams too

Down in the hole
Down in the hole
Down in the hole
Keep him down in the hole
We got to keep the Devil
Down in the hole
We got to keep the Devil
Keep him on down in the hole

Down down down
Mighty devil
I send you down below my boots
Down down
Filling my life
With anger and strife
Go down mighty Devil
Find a place to live
Down down down

Note: This embed doesn’t seem to work on all devices. You can also click through to the YouTube clip right here.

2 thoughts on “Song of the Day #2,811: ‘Way Down in the Hole’ – Steve Earle

  1. Dana says:

    This is the other season that intrigued me given the focus on the newspaper.

    Perhaps the newspaper characters were intentionally drawn more two dimensionally. After all, newspaper people Are supposed to maintain the appearance of some level of objectivity or at least dispassion. Digging too deep into these characters may have run counter to to the personalities they are supposed to project.

  2. Peg says:

    If I remember correctly the city editor did see through the lies in the Tom McCarthy character but was unable to make anything happen. Great TV series and great idea for a theme week!

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