I am not a television critic. But since its premiere in the summer of 2001, I have been a huge fan of Six Feet Under, the dark dramedy centered on a dysfunctional Los Angeles family that runs the Fischer and Diaz Funeral Home. Everything Ends, the second collection of music from the critically acclaimed HBO show, coincides with the series’ fifth and final season. But you don’t have to be a fan of the show to enjoy this disc – a nicely sequenced compilation of great songs that ebb and flow as they adhere to a bittersweet vibe.
Any fan of the show will tell you that music is an integral part its vibe, and it’s especially important to the two main female characters. The uber-bohemian subsistence of the freewheeling, wealthy, high-IQ Brenda Chenowith is captured nicely in a queue of down-tempo/trip-hop delights such as tracks from Welsh songstress Jem on “Amazing Life” and with Bebel Gilberto’s “Aganju (Latin Project Remix).” But let’s not forget about the designer-drug-loving, bad-relationship-prone tortured soul of art student Claire Fischer, whose lifestyle is brought to life with Radiohead’s “Lucky” and the swanky strut of “Everything is Everything” from Paris natives Phoenix.
Fans of Six Feet Under also know that at the end of each show, a sort of message is conveyed about life and death. But if there has been one in particular that is delivered through the plight of the characters, it is that life can take you in directions that you never planned on, but you still have to accept and live with them. Songs such as Coldplay’s “A Rush of Blood to the Head” and the tender indie balladry of Death Cab for Cutie’s “Transatlanticism” have been there to create a mood in those particular story arcs. These two tracks hold the album together for regular viewers. Each appears in moments where characters have tried to assimilate into situations beyond their control.
There are even tracks that fit into the funeral home motif, such as “Feeling Good” from the late, great jazz diva Nina Simone. Also included is a version of the Rolling Stones’ “Time is on My Side” by the unjustifiably overlooked soul paladin Irma Thomas, whose rendition of the song joins Townes Van Zandt’s performance of “Dead Flowers” as one of the few Stones covers to match the original’s heart and soul.
Speaking of covers, Caesars even jerks out (pun intended) a version of “Don’t Fear the Reaper” with their touch of Farfisa-heavy power pop. This track fits perfectly, because where most dramas deal with death in an overly cinematic and horrifying matter, Six Feet Under portrays it as a normal part of life, sometimes both happy and sad. It is only apt that a track such as “Don’t Fear the Reaper” is done in an innovative manner that layers those elements within the song.
The last two episodes of the show were the also the most emotional, and the songs played in the final moments tugged at the viewers’ hearts. In the penultimate episode, all of the characters’ worlds crumbled around them amidst a state of self-loathing and internal conflicts. What better way to end that episode than with the icy resonance of “Cold Wind Blowing,” an exclusive new track from Arcade Fire? But it was “Breathe Me” by Sia that was played in its entirety during the final minutes of the show’s finale, which left nary a viewer with dry eyes.
This may seem like just another soundtrack or compilation, but the music’s emotional resonance will not be lost on the uninitiated. And it is a must-have for the show’s dedicated fans. Each song will take you back to moments in the show that captivated you into watching it in the first place.