The Music of ‘Walking Dead’ Season 5: Guns, Bee Gees and A Lot of Cookies

By Brian Ives 

Over the course of four-plus seasons, ‘The Walking Dead’ has used a wide range of music from artists that span nearly every genre and era including Bob Dylan, Motörhead, the Stanley Brothers, Sharon Van Etten, Wang Chung and Tom Waits, whose song “Hold On” was sung by cast member Emily Kinney. During the show’s fifth season, we’ll be talking with Thomas Golubic of SuperMusicVision, who helps choose the show’s music, to get the scoop on what you heard on the latest episode.

“People are the real threat now,” Rick tells Deanna, the leader of Alexandria.

Deanna, trying to toe the line between keeping her town safe and keeping it civilized, replies, “I know you think everyone should be armed within the walls.  I can’t do that.”

Different members of Team Rick have been adjusting to life within the walls with varying levels of success. Daryl, up until now has the most feral member of the team, but he finally found his purpose when Noah asks him to become a recruiter for the community, because he’s able to tell the good guys from the bad guys. Michonne seems OK with hanging up her katana on her wall (where it’s still easily accessible), as a reminder of her past. Maggie looks like she’s going to help Deanna in creating a government for Alexandria.

But not everyone is doing as well: Sasha, increasingly uncomfortable within the confines of the town, had a bit of a freakout when she attended a semi-mandatory dinner party. And Carol, as always the group’s secret weapon, had her most fearsome moment since she advised Lizzie to “Just look at the flowers.” As she snuck out of the party and into the gun storage room to grab some firearms, a child followed her in. Poor kid: he thought she was going to get more cookies (the Alexandrians think of her as something of a single housewife and yes, she makes cookies). So, Carol gave the boy two choices: either he could tell his mother what he saw, and if he did, he’d find himself tied to a tree far away from the town. Or, he could keep his mouth shut, and he’d get cookies. Lots of cookies.

The kid smartly went with choice B (although he’s gonna have nightmares about this for a long time and really, will he be able to keep this from his mom?). The next morning, Carol was showing Rick and Daryl the guns she’d smuggled out (only the three of them were in on the gun theft plan). Daryl, finally less of an outsider, decides that he doesn’t need a gun anymore. Carol, of course, keeps one.

And Rick?

The new constable of the town seems to be acclimating to suburban life, even enjoying a drink (or drinks) at the party. Perhaps he’s acclimating a bit too much. After planting a kiss on (the married) Jessie’s cheek, she walked away, but they shared a glance that spoke volumes. So, the next day, at the secret gun meeting, Rick decides to take a firearm. But for what purpose? Let’s just say that things are not looking good for Jessie’s husband, who seems to have forgotten that he greeted Rick rather threateningly in last week’s episode. Rick, of course, has not forgotten. But will the group’s leader jeopardize the peace that seems to exist in Alexandria over the love of a married woman?

And so, as Rick walks towards the wall that separates Alexandria from the rest of the world, we hear the bouncy piano intro to a Bee Gees nugget from 1966, “Spicks and Specks.” On the other side of the wall, there’s a single walker. What separates them, besides that wall? The walker just wants to survive. The same was true for Rick, to an extent. But now, he has other concerns. Including, perhaps, romance.

“Where are the girls I left far behind?” the Brothers Gibb sing. “The spicks and the specks/Of the girls on my mind.”

Thomas Golubic tells Radio.com, “Closing this episode with ‘Spicks and Specks’ came from editor Jute Ramsey. He pulled it from the very first mixtape I created for The Walking Dead, way back in Season 1. At that time, we weren’t sure of the tone of the series, and I wanted to include some ironic counterpoint songs that played on the apocalyptic tone of the series, but approached the scenes lyrically from a romantic point of view. The Walker Brothers song ‘The Sun Ain’t Gonna Shine Anymore’ (which was used in our season 1 Comic Con trailer) came from that same collection, as did Ellie Greenwich’s ‘You Don’t Know,’ a wonderful girl group song that we have yet to find a home for.”

Thankfully, irony hasn’t worked its way into this series very much up to this point; after all, what’s ironic about fighting for your very survival? But now our ragged survivors are adjusting to their new life, where big concerns include worrying about finding pasta makers, grabbing enough chocolate to make cookies and avoiding the person who talks too much at parties. Which allowed for music with a less serious tone.

“[Showrunner] Scott Gimple really liked the counterpoint approach of ‘Spicks and Specks,’ and we were able to get the song cleared for the episode.  One of the exciting things about working on The Walking Dead is we keep shifting the tone and approach of the series and the storytelling. Scott has created several seasons now where the story and the tone shifts in pretty dramatic ways, while still staying true to the characters.  Using music with a bit more ironic detachment is an exciting new direction to play with.  This Bee Gees song, very early in their career and largely overlooked, was a wonderful way to capture Rick’s strange and unsure sense of his direction forward.”

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