Over the course of its five seasons, “True Blood” has consistently been one of the best shows on television not only for fans of vampires but for music fans as well. Each episode is named after a song title, and a number of artists have contributed new recordings to the show. Every week during season six, Radio.com will check in with “True Blood” Music Supervisor Gary Calamar, who has been nominated for GRAMMYs twice for his work on the show. This week, at Gary’s suggestion, we spoke to Angela Robinson, who wrote this week’s episode and suggested the episode’s title and sole musical focus. (To see previous recaps, go here.)
“F*** The Pain Away.” Music fans of a certain age and hipness likely recognized the title of this week’s True Blood as the 2000 breakthrough hit from Canadian dance-punk Peaches. The question isn’t why True Blood used it, but what took so long for them to use it. Over the past few seasons, a number of characters have gotten naked to forget their various problems; certainly the song could have applied to Tara, Sam, Jessica and Sookie over the years.
True Blood writer Angela Robinson tells Radio.com that when she wrote the episode, she was experiencing her own pain, albeit a more physical variety.
“I had a week to write this episode and I had broken my ankle in three places the weekend before I began writing, so I was kind of high on Percocet during much of the writing,” she explains, “so I was literally fighting my own physical pain while writing it, which I think was a subliminal factor in my choice.”
The song, however, worked on a number of levels, for a number of characters.
“I felt like the song summed up the emotion of the episode,” Robinson says. “I felt like all the characters were dealing with intense personal pain, each in their own way, and everybody was acting out, either avoiding their pain or in Sookie’s case, trying to get to the root of it. Also, Sarah Newlin and Jason are both trying to f*** the pain away with each other, Bill and Warlow are figuratively f***ing the pain away with each other, Andy has to bottle his rage and quest for revenge, Pam has to go to therapy in vamp camp and gives a speech on the notion of pain and the differences between the human experience of pain vs. the vampire experience of pain — it all seemed to work together.”
Sarah Newlin (Anna Camp) before extinguishing her pain with Jason Stackhouse. (John P. Johnson/HBO)
But there was one main character who inspired the choice of the song: Jessica Hamby, who last week, murdered Andy Bellefleur’s faerie daughters (though one actually survived). Robinson “hung the whole episode on Jessica’s faerie-blood drug trip: the side effects of drinking faerie blood is vampires get high and horny so Jessica goes on a despair-guilt-sex-drug trip throughout the episode,” which included a bold pass at her maker/father figure Bill Compton and later her ex, Jason Stackhouse (who has just finished fornicating the pain away with right-wing anti-vampire Sarah Newlin).
“This leads her to a pretty defeated, nihilistic place,” Robinson says, “and I thought the Peaches song fit perfectly.”
Robinson recalls first hearing the song years ago: “My friend took me to see Peaches perform at a club in LA and I remembered thinking how intense and insane and subversive she was with that song/record. I love the all the songs on that album, but the opening beat/riff of “F*** the Pain Away” followed by that lyric has always stuck with me, so I was excited to have a chance to use it.”
It’s about time, though it’s not as though the song hasn’t been featured in a number of movies and TV shows, including Lost in Translation and 30 Rock. At least on True Blood, “F*** The Pain Away” was used in a way that fully honored its hedonistic nature.
– Brian Ives, Radio.com