David Chase’s eulogy for James Gandolfini

David Chase's eulogy for James Gandolfini

I was asked to talk about the work, and so I’ll talk about the show we used to do and how we used to do it. I guess everybody knows we always ended an episode with a song. And that was kind of like, letting the great geniuses do the heavy lifting — Bruce [Springsteen] and Nick [Lowe] and Keith [Richards] and Howling Wolf, and a bunch of them.

So if this was an episode, we would end with a song. And the song, as far as I’m concerned, would be Joan Osborne’s “What If God Was One of Us.” And the setup for this — we never did this, you never even heard of this. But the setup was, Tony was somehow lost in the Meadowlands. He didn’t have his car and his wallet, and his car keys. And I forget how he got there — there was some kind of a story. But he had nothing in his pocket but some change. He didn’t have his guys with him. He didn’t have his gun.

And so mob boss Tony Soprano is like one of the working stiffs, getting in line to get on the bus. And the way we were going to film it, he was going to get on the bus. And the lyric that would have gone over that would have been — we don’t have Joan Osborne here to sing it — “If God had a face/What would it look like?/And would you want to see/If seeing meant that you would have to believe?/And yeah, yeah/God is great/Yeah, yeah/God is good/Yeah, yeah, yeah.”

So Tony would get on the bus, and he would sit there, and the bus would pull out of this big billowy haze of smoke. And then the key lyric would come on, and it was: “What if God was one of us/Just a slob like one of us/Just a stranger on the bus/Trying to make his way home?” And that would be playing over your face, Jimmy.

But then — and this is where it gets kind of strange — now, we would have to update it, because of the events of the last week. And I would let the song play further, and the lyrics would be, “Just trying to make his way home/Like a holy rollin’ stone/Back up to heaven all alone/Nobody callin’ on the phone/Except the pope, maybe in Rome.”

Read the full transcript here.

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