Woke up this Morning – Alabama 3

Woke up this Morning is a song by English band Alabama 3 (also known as A3) from their 1997 album Exile on Coldharbour Lane. The song became famous as the theme...

Woke up this Morning is a song by English band Alabama 3 (also known as A3) from their 1997 album Exile on Coldharbour Lane. The song became famous as the theme song for the HBO TV show The Sopranos, but it was around long before the show and remained an obscurity until David Chase, who created the show, decided to use it as the theme song.

Alabama 3 are neither a trio nor from Alabama. Formed by Rob Spragg and Jake Black, they are from south London, but have an affinity for American Country music, which they would combine with House music. Like Chumbawamba, they were a collective with rotating members, often performing songs with political leanings.

With the refrain “Woke up this morning, got yourself a gun” and “got a blue moon in your eyes” the song does infact sound very ‘gangster’ and appropriate for the show, which is about a Mafia family and their emotional struggles, but it is actually about a case in which a wife finally shot her abusive husband after twenty years. The song is about female empowerment, not the mob.

In an interview with ABC Rob Spragg said:

“It’s a song written about female empowerment. It’s about a young woman who’s had enough of domestic violence and blows the guy away. Maybe that was a transferable identity for what they were doing on the show. It’s ironic.”

The woman in question is Sara Thornton, who killed her husband in 1989. She was sentenced to life imprisonment after being convicted of the 1989 murder of her violent and alcoholic husband. Thornton never denied the killing, but claimed it had been an accident during an argument. The prosecution at her trial argued that she had carried out the act for financial gain, and she was found guilty of murder. The case became a cause célèbre among women’s groups, and ignited a political debate on how the courts should deal with the issue of domestic violence. At a retrial in 1996 Thornton was found guilty of the lesser charge of manslaughter and freed from custody. The case made headlines in England, where Alabama 3 founder Rob Spragg heard about it and got the idea for the song. He wrote the song with his bandmates Jake Black, Simon Edwards and Piers Marsh.

As Jake Black explained in The Times of London:

“It’s totally ironic that we, who disapprove of anything villains do, should be picked for the theme song of a show that shows the human side of villains. You see the guy knocking f–k out of someone… but he’s got heart. All the while the guy’s controlling thousands of people’s lives, squeezing them. So that is ironic.”

As detailed in the liner notes for the album, this song samples “Tell Me” by Howlin’ Wolf, “Standing at the Burying Ground” by Mississippi Fred McDowell and “Mannish Boy” by Muddy Waters. Howlin’ Wolf, under his real name Chester Burnett, is a credited writer on the song along with four members of Alabama 3.

I’m gonna take you down
Deep down to the front lines

You woke up this morning
Got yourself a gun,
Mama always said you’d be
The Chosen One.

She said, you’re one in a million
You’ve got to burn to shine,
But you were born under a bad sign,
With a blue moon in your eyes.

You woke up this morning
All that love had gone,
Your Papa never told you
About right and wrong.

But you’re looking good, baby,
I believe you’re feeling fine, (Shame about it),
Born under a bad sign
With a blue moon in your eyes.

You woke up this morning
Got a blue moon in your eyes
You woke up this morning
Got a blue moon in your eyes

You woke up this morning
The world turned upside down,
Thing’s ain’t been the same
Since the Blues walked into town.
But you’re one in a million
You’ve got that shotgun shine. (Shame about it)
Born under a bad sign,
With a blue moon in your eyes.
You woke up this morning
Got a blue moon in your eyes
You woke up this morning
Got a blue moon in your eyes

When you woke up this morning everything was gone.
By half past ten your head was going ding-dong.
Ringing like a bell from your head down to your toes,
Like a voice trying to tell you there’s something you should know.
Last night you were flying but today you’re so low
Ain’t it times like these that make you wonder if
You’ll ever know the meaning of things as they appear to the others;
Wives, mothers, fathers, sisters and brothers.
Don’t you wish you didn’t function, don’t you wish you
Didn’t think beyond the next paycheck and the next little drink?
Well you do so make up your mind to go on, ’cause
When you woke up this morning everything you had was gone.

Woke up this morning,
Woke up this morning,
Woke up this morning,
You want to be the Chosen One.

Woke up this morning,
Woke up this morning,
Woke up this morning,
You got yourself a gun.

Categories
Sounds from the Bucket
Marco Principia

Born in Rome, his beloved city. Graduated with honors in Political Science and International Relations at Università degli Studi "Roma Tre". Expert of current affairs and United Nations. Recently attended a course in Humanitarian Emergency at INTERSOS. Currently employed at CIES - ONLUS in the Coordination and Organization Office for Interpreting and Translation Service for Territorial Commissions for the Recognition of International Protection. Huge fan of A.S. Roma.
No Comment

Leave a Reply

*

*

RELATED BY