Song Of The Day 6/20/2013: James Gandolfini - "A Man Without Love"

The Sopranos is one of three TV shows (the others are Twin Peaks and Mad Men) I've watched every episode of. You can divide the eras of television as "before Sopranos" and "after Sopranos." Tony Soprano is my favorite TV character ever. Before Tony you'd encounter the occasional antihero on episodic television -- Andy Sipowicz on NYPD Blue, for example. But audiences had never really been challenged to embrace a protagonist with such moral ambiguity. James Gandolfini did the impossible job of filtering virtue and frailty through the personage of a man most people would, on paper, consider pretty evil. He tested and ultimately raised the limits of your sympathies for six seasons, and disappeared forever in the blink of a Journey song. Without Gandolfini nailing the character of Tony Soprano week in and week out, it would have been fairly hard to conceive of Don Draper or Walter White.

The clip included is from a half-musical movie Gandolfini made with director John Turturro called Romance and Cigarettes. I have not seen it. I don't think a lot of other people have either. But I remember hearing about his performance of Engelbert Humperdinck's "A Man Without Love," and thinking it was such an incongruous idea that it probably worked. In any case it's hard to imagine a force of nature just slipping away as suddenly as Gandolfini did yesterday. It makes little sense.

Rest in peace. Don't stop believin'.


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