The end credits of The Many Saints of Newark are accompanied by a song that will be instantly familiar to fans of The Sopranos – the original series’ theme song, “Woke Up This Morning” by Alabama 3. The song has become an enduring piece of the HBO show’s legacy and is widely seen as one of the most iconic opening themes in TV history. It’s inclusion at the end of The Many Saints of Newark is a fun Sopranos Easter egg, but its positioning at the end of the film also has a greater narrative significance.
Much of the story of The Many Saints of Newark focuses on the relationship between the young Tony Soprano and Dickie Moltisanti – a major mobster and the father of The Sopranos’ Christopher. Tony clearly admires Dickie, and though he shows major promise academically, he starts to feel the constant pull of the excitement and luxury of mob life. Unfortunately for him, Dickie is killed in a hit ordered by Junior Soprano at the end of The Many Saints of Newark, cutting off the relationship abruptly and making Dickie a martyr for Tony to continue idolizing.
Like most of the later relationships in his life, Tony Soprano’s relationship with Dickie is warped and harmful, despite the apparent affection the two have for each other. Dickie acts as a mentor and father figure to Tony, but with the ultimate result of Tony going down the same dark path. It’s a cyclical pattern of losing innocence that’s beautifully summed up by the lyrics and feeling of the film’s end credits song.
What Song Plays Over Many Saints Of Newark: Sopranos Theme Explained
The Many Saints of Newark’s end credits song is “Woke Up This Morning” by Alabama 3, the original theme song of The Sopranos. Thematically, the song is reminder at the start of every Sopranos episode of what the viewer is actually watching – Tony Soprano’s story of struggling to hold power and joy as they continue to slip away from him. The Sopranos is, in many ways, a show about inevitability. Tony’s anxiety attacks start because of the gnawing knowledge that the old-school gangster world he’s a part of will only lead him towards an inevitable fall. At the beginning of every Sopranos episode, the theme song recounts that theme of inescapable decline.
Why The Sopranos Theme Song Plays Over Many Saints’ End-Credits
Obviously, the Sopranos theme song is included in The Many Saints of Newark largely as a fun reference to The Sopranos, but the greater meaning of “Woke Up This Morning” also comes into play. At the end of The Many Saints of Newark, Tony is officially on his path as a mobster. The events of his film, his relationship with Dickie Moltisanti, and the way that relationship ends ultimately catapults Tony toward his Sopranos fate – something that possibly could have been avoided earlier in his life, but which is inevitable by the end of the movie. The playing of “Woke Up This Morning” in the end credits is therefore particularly significant, as it marks the start of Tony’s true decline.
Of course, while Tony’s fall begins in The Many Saints of Newark, there are still many years of his life prior to The Sopranos that have gone unexplored. The journey from young underling to the Don of North Jersey is one that still has yet to be told, and one that many are hoping could be explored by a Many Saints of Newark sequel. Michael Gandolfini is stellar in the role that his father played so perfectly, and it would be great to see him continue the story of Tony Soprano after the events of The Many Saints of Newark.