The Wire Theme Song


I just love the theme song concept they came up with in this one.

If you are a true The Wire fan, you would know that each season had a different version of the theme tune, sung by a different group or artist. Yes, the song stays the same. The song is entitled “Way Down in the Hole”. It was written and originally recorded by American artist Tom Waits; it is part of his 1987 release Franks Wild Years.

As for each season’s version and a little something about it, see below.

Season 1 by The Blind Boys of Alabama

The rendition in season one of “Way Down in the Hole” is by the gospel group The Blind Boys of Alabama. Yes, they are blind. They have been around since 1939, and yes of course, their lineup has changed. They covered “Way Down in the Hole” and included it in their 2001-release Spirit of the Century. Their version also made it in the series finale being played over a montage. Below is the opening credits of season one.

Season 2 by Tom Waits

The second season sees Tom Waits’ original recording of “Way Down in the Hole” as the theme tune to The Wire. As previously mentioned, it is part of his album Franks Wild Years. Below is the opening sequence of season two.

Season 3 by The Neville Brothers

Season three’s rendition is by New Orleans, Louisiana-based soul group The Neville Brothers. As of this time I do not know if they included it in an album/official release. Some help, maybe? Below is the third season’s opening credits.

Season 4 by DoMaJe

DoMaJe is said to be a collaboration between cast members. This version was recorded and arranged specifically for the show. The vocalists in the recording are Baltimore teenagers Ivan Ashford, Markel Steele, Cameron Brown, Tariq Al-Sabir, and Avery Bargasse. Below is season 4’s intro.

Season 5 by Steve Earle

The fifth and final season’s theme rendition is by American country music artist Steve Earle. His version is part of his 2007 release Washington Square Serenade. Steve is also a member of the cast—he plays the recovering drug addict Walon. Below is the intro for season five.

The Wire theme song lyrics

When you walk through the garden
You gotta watch your back
Well I beg your pardon
Walk the straight and narrow track
If you walk with Jesus
He’s gonna save your soul
You gotta keep the devil
Way down in the hole
He’s got the fire and the fury
At his command
Well you don’t have to worry
If you hold on to Jesus hand
We’ll all be safe from Satan
When the thunder rolls
Just gotta help me keep the devil
Way down in the hole
All the angels sing about Jesus’ mighty sword
And they’ll shield you with their wings
And keep you close to the lord
Don’t pay heed to temptation
For his hands are so cold
You gotta help me keep the devil
Way down in the hole

So, which one is your favorite?

P.S. I guess it is also relevant to note the ending theme—entitled “The Fall”, composed by Blake Leyh, the show’s music supervisor.