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True Detective

Why are the ‘True Detective’ Theme Song Lyrics Changing Each Episode?

The second season of True Detective is notably lacking the occult influences that colored the first, but the show’s still littered with clues and details for astute viewers. Take, for instance, the season’s theme song whose lyrics change from episode to episode. While every episode starts the same way with a modified version of Leonard Cohen’s “Nevermind,” each episode cuts in a different set of verses (still pulled from the original song).

The opening credits for the premiere, “The Western Book of the Dead”

Below are the unique verses from each episode (to be updated each week):

[Episode 1: The Western Book of the Dead]

My woman’s here, my children too
Their graves are safe, from ghosts like you

In places deep, with roots entwined
I live the life I left behind

[Episode 2: Night Finds You]

I could not kill, the way you kill
I could not hate, I tried I failed

You turned me in, at least you tried
You side with them, whom you despise

There’s truth that lives, and truth that dies
I don’t know which, so never mind

[Episode 3: Maybe Tomorrow]

This was your heart, this swarm of flies
This was once your mouth, this bowl of lies

You serve them well, I’m not surprised
You’re of their kin, you’re of their kind

[Episode 4: Down Will Come]

Repeats the verses from the premiere, with the addition of::

I live it full, I live it wide
Through layers of time, you can’t divide

[Episode 5: Other Lives]

Your victory was so complete
That some among you thought to keep

A record of our little lives
The clothes we wore, our spoons, our knives

And all of this, expressions of
The sweet indifference some call Love

The high indifference some call Fate
But we had names more intimate

Names so deep and names so true
They’re blood to me, they’re dust to you

[Episode 6: Church in Ruins]

I could not kill, the way you kill
I could not hate, I tried I failed

You turned me in, at least you tried
You side with them, whom you despise

This was your heart, this swarm of flies
This was once your mouth, this bowl of lies

You serve them well, I’m not surprised
You’re of their kin, you’re of their kind

[Episode 7: Black Maps and Motel Rooms]

I had to leave my life behind
I dug some graves you’ll never find

The story’s told with facts and lies
I have a name, but never mind

Never mind, never mind
The war was lost, the treaty signed

There’s truth that lives, and truth that dies
I don’t know which, so never mind

I could not kill, the way you kill
I could not hate, I tried I failed

You turned me in, at least you tried
You side with them, whom you despise

This was your heart, this swarm of flies
This was once your mouth, this bowl of lies

You serve them well, I’m not surprised
You’re of their kin, you’re of their kind

[Episode 8: Omega Station]

Note: lyrics are the same as in the premiere.

My woman’s here, my children too
Their graves are safe, from ghosts like you

In places deep, with roots entwined
I live the life I left behind

Released on Leonard Cohen’s 2014 album Popular Problems, the song was originally conceived as a meditation on the victims of war, and the lamentations and conflicts that come with defeat. The song takes on a decidedly more insidious tone when paired with the corruption and depravity at the heart of True Detective’s second season.

One could possibly draw connections between each episode’s unique lyrics and some general themes presented in that episode–the haunted pasts and troubled families that were explored in the premiere, the second episode’s introduction of the characters’ many positions and allegiances (and its cliffhanger ending), or the increased scrutiny all parties receive as the investigation and state’s corruption probe ramps up in the third episode.

Or perhaps this is all pointless speculation. Nevertheless, here’s the original song from Leonard Cohen:

About Will Fan

Will Fan
Movies, television, games, food, coffee, vague lists, naps. Twitter: @will_fan

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