1001 Songs Challenge,  1990s,  Music

1001 Songs Challenge #850: Woke Up This Morning (1997)

On 11 February 2019 I set myself the challenge of reading 1001 Songs You Must Hear Before You Die by Robert Dimery (ed.) and following the book’s advice to the letter. I’ve previously read 1001 Films… and started 1001 Albums… but felt 1001 Songs… would be a sensible place to start for what I have in mind here.

My challenge is to read about one song per day and listen to it (YouTube and Spotify, I need you tonight!) before sharing my own thoughts. Some songs I will love, others I’ll hate, and I’m sure there will be those that leave me perplexed but listen to them I shall.

I’ll also try, and most likely fail, to pinpoint the best song from the 1001 on offer but I’m nothing if not foolhardy. Instead of one song, I’m predicting I’ll have about 100 favourites by the end and may have to resort to a Top 10 so far to maintain any semblance of sanity.

So long as I post every day (including Christmas) then this challenge should come to an end on Wednesday 8 November 2021. Staying with the Barney Stinson theme I am hoping that the whole experience will prove to be… legendary!


Alabama 3 – Woke Up This Morning (1997)

Woke Up This Morning – Wikipedia

” Woke Up This Morning” is a song by British band Alabama 3 from their 1997 album Exile on Coldharbour Lane. The song is best known as the opening theme music for The Sopranos , which used the “Chosen One Mix” of the song.


Lyrics (via Genius)


Welcome to 1997, dear reader. The 20th century draws to a close with each new song. Anyway, we’re saying farewell to the US today and returning to the UK and to Brixton in London. Alabama 3 were formed in 1995 and their specialty was fusing genres such as electronic music with the likes of country and even hip hop. We join the group in 1997 with the release of their debut album – Exile on Coldharbour Lane – and from there 1001 Songs have gone with the song – Woke Up This Morning.

Woke Up This Morning has the sound of a gangster tale about it with mention of being born under “a bad sign” and this being the day that you grab a gun. The reality is very different. The song was inspired by the true story of Sara Thornton, a victim of domestic violence, who fatally stabbed her husband in 1989. She was convicted of murder in 1990 but following an appeal a legal defence successfully argued this down to a sentence of manslaughter and Thornton was released in 1996. Her case caused outrage at the time, the lack of justice and protection for victims of domestic abuse being clear for all to see. Woke Up This Morning captures the essence of that moment in Sara Thornton’s life that changed her world forever, the story of a woman who had reached breaking point and could not take it anymore. 

Woke Up This Morning has the most dramatic of origins in its lyrical content but listening to the song initially I would never have guessed at its gestation. It sounds like a hip hop number with some very catchy music to boot. The song would gain major exposure in 1999 when it was used as the theme song to hit show, The Sopranos (1999 – 2007). Quite a journey this song has had.


Favourite songs so far:

The Animals – House of the Rising Sun (1964)

Simon & Garfunkel – The Sounds of Silence (1965)

The Beatles – A Day in the Life (1967)

The Doors – The End (1967)

Pink Floyd – Wish You Were Here (1975)

Meat Loaf – Bat Out of Hell (1977)

Ultravox – Vienna (1980)

Tracy Chapman – Fast Car (1988)

U2 – One (1991)

Jeff Buckley – Hallelujah (1994)

My name is Dave and I live in Yorkshire in the north of England and have been here all my life. I hope you enjoy your visit to All is Ephemeral.

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