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" … and all the pieces matter": Five Years of Music from "The Wire"

" … and all the pieces matter": Five Years of Music from "The Wire" cover art

Track Listing

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1“This America, man.”0:24
2Way Down in the Hole – The Blind Boys of Alabama (Tom Waits)2:54
3“Why would anyone ever wanna leave Baltimore?”0:21
4Oh My God – Michael Franti & Spearhead (Michael Franti & Ramon Lazo)5:05
5Dance My Pain Away – Rod Lee (listen to full-length track)2:07
6My Life Extra – DJ Technics (Glenn Brand a.k.a. DJ Technics)1:17
7“The king stay the king.”0:48
8Way Down in the Hole – The Neville Brothers (Tom Waits)1:36
9“We used to make shit in this country.”0:15
10Sixteen Tons – The Nighthawks (Merle Travis)3:36
11Assume the Position – Lafayette Gilchrist (Lafayette Gilchrist)2:42
12“What the fuck did I do?”0:12
13Step by Step – Jesse Winchester (Jesse Winchester)2:56
14I Walk on Gilded Splinters – Paul Weller (Dr. John Creau)4:58
15Fast Train – Solomon Burke (Van Morrison)5:37
16The Body of an American – The Pogues (Shane MacGowan)4:45
17“All the pieces matter.”0:08
18Efuge Efuge – Stelios Kazantzidis (Vassilis Vassiliadis, Pythagoras)3:32
19“Omar comin’!”0:40
20Way Down in the Hole – Domaje (Tom Waits)1:43
21“If it’s a lie, then we fight on that lie”0:22
22Projects – Tyree Colion (Tyree Moorehead, Juan Donovan Bell, & Jamal Roberts)3:26
23“Later for that gangsta bullshit.”0:38
24Ayo – Bossman (Loren Hill, Travis Holifield, & Richard Shelton)(3:20
25Analyze – Sharpshooters2:44
26“Wars end.”0:20
27Unfriendly Game – Masta Ace Feat. Stricklin (Duvall Clear, Scott Stricklin, & Luis Tineo)3:52
28What You Know About Baltimore – Ogun Feat. Phathead (Kevin Donnell Beasley, Juan Donovan Bell, & Jamal Roberts)3:16
29Jail Flick – Diablo (Damion Lamont Champ, Juan Donovan Bell, & Jamal Roberts)3:38
30The Life, The Hood, The Streetz – Mullyman (Kevin Muldrow)3:47
31“An act of daily journalism.”0:07
32I Feel Alright – Steve Earle2:58
33Way Down in the Hole – Tom Waits (listen to full-length track) (Tom Waits)1:45
34“You remember that one day summer past?”0:41
35The Fall – Blake Leyh (listen to full-length track) (Blake Leyh)1:24

News & Reviews

  • David Simon, Creator of "The Wire," Named a 2010 MacArthur Fellow

    Congratulations to David Simon, the creator of The Wire (to which Nonesuch released the soundtrack) and Treme, who was named a MacArthur Fellow for 2010. The Fellows, selected for their creativity, originality, and potential to make important contributions in the future, receive $500,000 each in “no strings attached” support over the next five years. MacArthur Fellowships, often referred to as "Genius" grants, offer Fellows unprecedented freedom and opportunity to reflect, create, and explore. Dawn Upshaw was named a Fellow in 2007.

  • Nonesuch Albums Abound in Year-End Best Lists

    While 2008 may go down as one of the more turbulent years in recent (or distant) memory, or, more optimistically, a time of change, there is much to celebrate in the year in music. Nonesuch artists across all genres have contributed to that and, accordingly, have made their way onto many critics' lists of the year's best. For the final Nonesuch Journal article of the year, we offer an overview of just some of that year-end critical praise.

About this Album

"No other program has ever done anything remotely like what this one does, namely to portray the social, political, and economic life of an American city with the scope, observational precision, and moral vision of great literature.” —Slate

Nonesuch released the first soundtrack from the critically acclaimed, Peabody Award–winning HBO series The Wire on January 8, 2008—two days after the series kicks off its fifth season on the pay television network. Although music plays a significant role in the David–Simon created drama, it has never before been collected and released as an album.

The album, “…and all the pieces matter.”— Five Years of Music from The Wire, includes several versions of the show’s opening theme song—Tom Waits’s “Way Down in the Hole”—as performed by The Blind Boys of Alabama, The Neville Brothers, and DoMaJe, a group of Baltimore teenagers.

It also features numerous tracks from the Baltimore club and hip-hop scene that have never before appeared on a major label release, including Rod Lee’s “Dance My Pain Away,” Tyree Colion’s “Projects,” Diablo’s “Jail Flick,” Mullyman’s “The Life, The Hood, The Streetz,” and “What You Know About Baltimore?” by Ogun featuring Phathead.

Other songs include “Oh My God” by Michael Franti, “I Walk on Gilded Splinters” by Paul Weller, “The Body of an American” by The Pogues, “I Feel Alright” by Steve Earle (who also has an acting role on the series), Solomon Burke’s “Fast Train,” and the show’s closing theme, “The Fall,” composed by The Wire music supervisor Blake Leyh.

Some of the most memorable dialog from the program’s five years is included on the record. The CD booklet features essays by author and series writer George Pelecanos and noted hip-hop journalist Jeff Chang, as well as an interview between Simon and journalist/novelist Nick Hornby that was originally published in The Believer.

A separate album, Beyond Hamsterdam: Baltimore Tracks from The Wire, comprising only the “…and all the pieces matter.” tracks by Baltimore musicians, plus two extra songs, will be released simultaneously. Complete track lists for both albums follow.

Over the course of five seasons, The Wire developed a portrait of Baltimore through the themes of education, the war on drugs, the decline of the working class, the role of political leadership in addressing urban problems, and the mass media’s impact on the city.


The Blind Boys of Alabama (2), Michael Franti & Spearhead (4), Rod Lee (5), DJ Technics (6), The Neville Brothers (8), The Nighthawks (10), Lafayette Gilchrist (11), Jesse Winchester (13), Paul Weller (14), Solomon Burke (15), The Pogues (16), Stelios Kazantzidis (18), DoMaJe (20), Tyree Colion (22), Bossman (24), Sharpshooters (25), Masta Ace feat. Stricklin (27), Ogun feat. Phathead (28), Diablo (29), Mullyman (30), Steve Earle (32), Tom Waits (33), Blake Leyh (35)

Produced by Michael Franti (4); Rod Lee (5); Glenn Brand a.k.a. DJ Technics (6); Milton Davis, The Neville Brothers, Ivan Neville (8); Joe Henry (15); Doreen Vail, Maurette Brown-Clark, J.B. Wilkins, Nina Noble (20); Juan Donovan & Jamal Roberts for Darkroom Productions Inc. (22, 29); Richard Shelton & Loren Hill for One Up Entertainment (24); Mr. Supreme (25); Luis “Sabor” Tineo for Songs of David (27); Juan Donovan & Jamal Roberts for Darkroom Productions Inc. (28); James Mbah (30); Ray Kennedy and Richard Bennet (32); Blake Leyh (35)

Track 8 recorded and mixed by James Bevelle at Neville Neville Land Studios, New Orleans, LA, courtesy of Neville Nation Records
Track 20 arranged by Doreen Vail, Maurette Brown-Clark & J.B. Wilkins; engineered by Mike Potter; mixed by Andy Kris & Blake Leyh; vocals by Ivan Ashford, Markel Steele, Cameron Brown, Tariq Al-Sabir, & Avery Bargasse; additional musicians: Ronald Lindsey & Thomas Crosson

This compilation mastered by Greg Calbi at Sterling Sound, New York City
Executive Producer: David Simon
Producers: Karen L. Thorson and Blake Leyh
Executive Producer for Nonesuch Records: David Bither

Design: Sequel Studio, New York

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