Everything You Need to Know About ‘Watchmen’s Use of Music
[Warning: This gallery contains MAJOR spoilers for Season 1 of Watchmen.]
For viewers of HBO’s ambitious new series Watchmen, there’s one key component that appears to be making quite the impact — its music.
Along with the series’ score, its employment of specific tunes for certain scenes often has deeper meaning underneath the surface.
Below, we’re breaking down some of the clever and meaningful uses of music in the series so far, beginning with the wild premiere episode “It’s Summer and We’re Running Out of Ice,” which itself is a song lyric.
“Pore Jud Is Daid”
The most pivotal scene within the premiere episode has to be Judd Crawford’s (Don Johnson) somewhat surprising demise. As Judd is strung up in the oak tree on Roland Hill, Will Reeves (Louis Gossett Jr.) sits silently next to the swaying corpse and the tune begins to play.
“Pore Jud is daid, Pore Jud Fry is daid, All gather ’round his cawfin now and cry, He looks like he’s asleep, It’s a shame that he won’t keep, But it’s summer and we’re running out of ice,” the lyrics of “Pore Jud Is Daid,” written by Richard Rogers, say.
The choice of this particular song isn’t altogether shocking considering the Chief’s own name is Judd, and the musical Oklahoma is mentioned multiple times throughout he episode. Oh, and the premiere title is plucked directly from the lyrics of this tune, which originates from the musical.
But upon a closer look at the lyrics, the choice is even more fitting because of the way the Chief died. The lyrics reference the subject of the song — Jud Fry — as also being hung.
This moment is very similar to The Comedian’s death in the graphic novel — an event which also takes place within the universe in which the show is set. If fans of the original source material were unconvinced, the drop of blood which lands on Crawford’s Chief badge in the grass is a dead giveaway — no pun intended.
Watchmen the series is rooted in the canon associated with the graphic novel by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons. But that doesn’t mean the show has ignored the big-screen adaptation of the story.
In the premiere, the song “Unforgettable” plays briefly during “The Lord”s (Jeremy Irons) toast with Mr. Phillips (Tom Mison) and Ms. Crookshanks (Sara Vickers). The particular version that plays is performed by Dinah Washington, but the song also famously played in the 2009 film during the Comedian’s death sequence.
In the movie, Nat King Cole’s version plays as the Comedian is tossed about his high-rise apartment. The song is written by Irving Gordon and has been released by various artists over the years.
So, it’s safe to say this song was selected as a quick nod to the film, which many have enjoyed over the past 10 years.
Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross
You may have heard of the duo above — they’re best known for their work in the band Nine Inch Nails — but these musicians have scored many major films in recent years including The Social Network, Gone Girl, Patriots Day, and Mid90s.
In 2011, they won the Oscar for Best Original Score for their work in The Social Network. Watchmen is their first scripted television project as composers, setting the tone for Damon Lindelof‘s creation. Among some of the most talked-about topics following the premiere was how good the score was. In case you missed out, give the end credits a listen below.
Stay tuned in the coming weeks to see how music impacts the series moving forward and what clues it may unveil.
Watchmen,Sundays, 9/8c, HBO