The Music of Parenthood, Part I

Here it is, people.

As I prepare to enter into all this AP Test Prepping and Financial Aid Stressing and the general sketchiness that is my life in May, I’d like to pay tribute to a show that unceremoniously closed out its second season in April with great writing, great music and a great setup for season three to make way for The Voice, NBC’s surprisingly wonderful new reality show. I am, of course, speaking of the best show on network television, the miracle that is: Parenthood.

As a future screenwriting major at the University of Southern California, I could go on for days about how technically good this show is, how spectacular the writing (and directorial style, and acting, and everything else) is. However, let’s just suffice it to say that in my professional opinion, you should be watching. I promise you’ll relate to at least one thing.

Today, however, I’d like to put that aside, and focus on the majesty that is Liza Richardson’s music supervision for the show (she chooses the songs for each moment in each episode, along with showrunner/executive producer/all-around God Jason Katims, Friday Night Lights).

The theme song is undoubtedly classic, and absolutely perfect for the show–Bob Dylan’s full band version of “Forever Young”:

The first season’s soundtrack is available on iTunes, which is a definite recommend–one of the best albums of the year in my mind; its cohesive flow reminds me of…actual albums of the days of yore.

I’ll pick out some of my favorite musical moments here, as the whole soundtrack is much too awesome and deep to cover in one post (much less twenty).

Season 1, Episode 1: Pilot
written by Jason Katims
directed by Thomas Schlamme

The last scene before the teaser ends (or where we SMASH CUT TO: MAIN TITLES) is usually one of the better scenes in the episode, and the Parenthood Pilot is no exception to this rule. Adam and Crosby, two of the main siblings, coach Adam’s soon-to-be-diagnosed-with-Asperger’s son Max’s baseball team. Crosby remarks how the kid on the mound doesn’t look eight, and was probably “imported from the Dominican”, in one of the better lines in the episode. Max gets ostracized by his teammates because he, admittedly, ain’t that good, and tells his dad he isn’t having fun. Adam gives the kid a pep talk, and tells him “a walk’s as good as a hit”, a scene certainly reminiscent of my youth. Max makes contact on a weak grounder to the mound and gets down the line. He’s obviously safe, but the umpire calls him out. Tired of seeing his kid lose every break, he steps out of the third-base coaching box and, in a touching moment, GOES FUCKING NUTS to the ump (in the words of the original pilot script). We circle Adam and the ump–as Bob Dylan’s “Forever Young” kicks in–while Adam kicks the dirt on the mound and gets thrown out of the game.  Dad stood up for his kid. Gotta do whatcha gotta do.

“Forever Young” — Bob Dylan (iTunes)

Season 1, Episode 9: Perchance To Dream
written by Becky Hartman-Edwards
directed by Lawrence Trilling

This series is great for so many reasons, and this is one of them. The episode opens with a scene at the local high school, where Drew nervously discusses the upcoming dance with a cute girl he likes. The song they play? “Hell”. Perfect for the high school experience, am I right?

Even better, the lyrics foreshadow Drew’s rejection in Act III: “I know you feel it too / it all seems so untrue / when we get up and over it and over them”

Tegan & Sara – Hell

Season 1, Episode 13: Lost and Found
written by Jason Katims
directed by Lawrence Trilling

This episode has three of the best moments in the series’ short history. Amber, played by the incomparable Mae Whitman, runs away in the midst of a deep life crisis, brought on by having sex with her cousin Haddie’s ex-boyfriend (nothing wrong, but she was guilt-tripped into thinking she was a bad person) and Lucy Schwartz’s hauntingly beautiful “Gone Away”, a piano ballad for true musicians (she’s just as good as Regina Spektor, with less recognition), plays as her mother, loose and well-meaning Sarah, recognizes this fact. When Amber and Haddie reconcile later in the episode, Ray LaMontagne douses the right amount of soul onto the sweetest moment with “Let It Be Me”. And of course, there’s the family’s patriarch, Zeek (Craig T. Nelson),  at the end of the episode, apologizing to his wife (Bonnie Bedelia, aka Holly Gennero from Die Hard), whom he cheated on many years ago, with “I’m Into Something Good” by Herman’s Hermits on the uke. Cute. But unfortunately nowhere on the internet.

Lucy Schwartz – Gone Away

Ray LaMontagne — Let It Be Me  (iTunes)


Season 2 is next.

About Dylan Visvikis

Dylan Visvikis is a working screenwriter and director in Los Angeles. View all posts by Dylan Visvikis

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