My Music Picks: Peaky Blinders

If a picture paints a thousand words, a lyric evokes a thousand images.

Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds – Red Right Hand

The acting and dialogue make the show, but the poetic tunes in Peaky Blinders deserve some credit too. The theme song by Nick Cave &The Bad Seeds – Red Right Hand, is not what I expected the theme song to be. I anticipated a sadder tune, something more reminiscent of the horrors of the war, but I was wrong; this definitely works. Picture Tommy Shelby walking slowly through the streets of Birmingham, cold eyes lifeless and unfocussed, while wild eyes stare in fear from dumpsters, street corners and windows. The images that the lyrics suggest are so forceful that I can’t help but associate them with Tommy in his flat cap, crisp collar and black slicked shoes. Though only the first two minutes or so of the song are used, they are distinct and memorable.

Jack White – Love is Blindness

Not again. We’ve all heard this song used in a trailer, show or movie at some point, and it may seem overused, but that’s a testament to the greatness and versatility of this song. If a picture paints a thousand words, a lyric evokes a thousand images, precisely why this song suits so many different texts. Easily recognizable after the first few notes, the electric, new rock sound compliments the exciting season finale perfectly.

Some Other Great Peaky Blinders Tunes:

Nick Cave & Warren Ellis – Martha’s Dream

Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds – Abattoir Blues

The White Stripes – St. James Infirmary Blues

The White Stripes – I Fought Piranhas

The Raconteurs – Blue Veins

Tom Waits – Time

Dan Auerbach – The Prowl

Final Thoughts: I could write a novel on each song, but I won’t, this post would never get published. You need to check out the entire soundtrack, for you will thank me when you do. You’re welcome. Head to BBC, they have all the tracks listed by the episodes they appear in.

What are your favourite tracks from the show? Does it annoy you when you hear different sources using the same tunes? Do you automatically compare the succeeding uses to the first time you heard the tune used in a text?

Peaky Blinders: Yup, this is definitely a hooker

Network: BBC Two

Originally Aired: September 12th, 2013

Creator: Steven Knight

Grace: You think I am a whore?

Tommy: Everyone’s a whore, Grace. We just sell different parts of ourselves.

Background: Peaky Blinders? Yes, that’s right, but don’t rule it out for its quirky title. This historic crime drama set in 1919 Birmingham gets its unique title from an actual gang that sewed razors blades on the fringes of their caps. Whether or not the original Peaky Blinders were a single gang or a title for rowdy, violent youth is debatable. The show, however, settles on shadowing the lives of a single gang family: the Shelby Family.

Overview: Tommy Shelby (Cillian Murphy), the bookie and brains behind the Peaky Blinders, is a cool, clever man with eyes as chilling and morbid as death. After returning from the war, like many men, he is changed. Tommy takes up the business that his aunt Polly (Helen McCrory) ran for four years while he was away at war. Despite the past that dogs him and the enemies that swarm him, Tommy slaves to bring power and legitimacy to his family name. His plans are tested by Inspector Campbell (Sam Neill), a ruthless man sent from Belfast by Winston Churchill to retrieve stolen weapons.

What’s New?: While watching the show I had to rewind at many places; the shots and settings amazed me (though admittedly I also rewound a lot to catch the words of the characters, one probably led to the other). The shots are stunning, and the scene transitions are seamless, effortlessly merging different plots into dynamic montages.

It is hard to define something because the moment that we do we limit what it can be. Peaky Blinders is more than its drama, dazzling shots, striking characters and dynamic plot. It offers a new take on period dramas by changing the dialogue. The conversations in this show are fresh and new, not relying on the typical quick exchanges of overused clichés found in most gangster-cop dramas. The writers and editors put time into crafting the utterances of every character. For this, the characters seem authentic, so many of Tommy and Campbell’s lines can stand alone as iconic quotes. We can believe that Tommy is cold, fragmented, sincere, conflicted and intelligent and not feel conflicted by this knowledge. Inspector Campbell is creepy, terrifying, and menacing all at once, with his overbearing stalk. Campbell cannot be summed up as good, nor Tommy as bad; these characters and their motives are too complex to be described in a single word.

Aunt Pol is a provocative female character, but not in the expected sense. She is neither the hard-ass woman nor the needy woman, she is simply herself. Strong female characters are sometimes defined by their ability to be like men and shake off “female tendencies”, but in her actions, Aunt Pol works against this convention. She cunningly uses her sex to advantage herself (her scene with Campbell is brilliant). Those who demand respect from others, often receive fear instead; Aunt Pol doesn’t demand it yet is respected and feared nonetheless.

And then there is Grace (Annabelle Wallis), not to be ignored with her angelic, sad voice. She is beautiful, and seemingly out of place in the dirty, rough slums of Birmingham. But there is more to her than her controlled, calculated actions let on (that’s all I will say).

Final Thoughts: There is no doubt in my mind that period dramas will continue to be conceived, developed and birthed by major networks; bastard drama offspring produced from a single mother plot. But Peaky Blinders varies from the main stream current, daring to give audiences a new take on historic dramas, conventional characters and character dialogue.

What makes you hooked on Peaky Blinders? Why do you think modern audiences have such a preoccupation with historic dramas?