For those of you like the me of a few months ago who haven’t seen The Wire, each series has its own version of the Tom Waits song Way Down in the Hole.
The first series’ theme was performed by The Blind Boys of Alabama. The album that this song comes from, Spirit of the Century, is absolutely fantastic. The highlight is the blues on the oud number Soldier.
I’ve written up the chords as they appear in the theme tune, but there’s nothing in the full song that isn’t in this version.
At the end of each line there’s little little lick.
With this at the end of the verse.
The original Tom Waits version is one fret higher than the BBoA at Bm.
The Neville Brothers’ version is in the key of Am – which makes it the most suitable for the ukulele. My favourite way of playing the song is to use the key of Am and the bass lead in from this version and combine it with the lead parts from the Blind Boys’ version to get this:
Back to the BBoA key of Bbm. I have to say, this is my least favourite version by a long way. For the fuzzy solo, bust out the Bb minor pentatonic scale.
As well as providing the theme for the final season and appearing in the show, Steve Earle’s Feel Alright was used for the end of season 2 montage (listen here if you don’t want any spoilers). It’s a great song. I was going to write it up for the uke, but it’s one of those rare songs that sounds better on the guitar.
Earle’s version of Way Down in the Hole is in Gm.