Woke Up This Morning

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"Woke Up This Morning"
A3 - woke up this morning.jpg
Single by Alabama 3
from the album Exile on Coldharbour Lane
ReleasedJune 1997
FormatCD single
GenreElectronica, acid jazz, trip hop
4:05 (Chosen One Mix)
LabelOne Little Indian
Songwriter(s)Jake Black
Rob Spragg
Producer(s)Alabama 3
Alabama 3 singles chronology
"Ain't Going to Goa"
"Woke Up This Morning"
"Speed of the Sound of Loneliness"

"Woke Up This Morning" is a song by British band Alabama 3 from their 1997 album Exile on Coldharbour Lane. The song is best known as the opening theme music for The Sopranos, which used the "Chosen One Mix" of the song.[1]

Background and writing[edit]

Described as "a propulsive hip-hop song complete with Howlin' Wolf samples and a swelling gospel choir",[2] the song has been cited as a paradigmatic example of a "great theme song", which "generates anticipation, immediately puts the viewer in a focused frame of mind, and creates the kind of sonic familiarity that breeds audience loyalty."[3] Alabama 3 frontman Rob Spragg wrote the song after hearing about the 1996 murder case of Sara Thornton,[4] who stabbed her husband after two years of abuse, mistreatment and neglect.[5] The song is co-written with Piers Marsh, Simon Edwards and Jake Black.

"We started with a Howlin' Wolf loop, but a lot of blues lyrics are quite misogynist," Spragg explained. "So I turned it round to be about a woman who's had enough and gets a gun – it's quite ironic that it's become a New Jersey gangster anthem."[6]

Musical structure[edit]

The song is in 4/4 time and in the key of F minor. It uses combinations of other styles such as electronic music and blues. During the breakdown, there's an electronic chord progression in F major while the lyrics' melodic line is in F minor. It fades out with the electric chord progression in the tonic major.

Use in other media[edit]

In film
  • The song is used in the film The House (2017)
In music
  • Rapper Nas sampled "Woke Up This Morning" for his 2001 hit "Got Ur Self A..."
  • The song is also interpolated in Beenie Man's 2002 single "Get Yourself a Gun", featuring Gringo
  • Jazz pianist Taylor Eigsti has a rendition of "Woke Up This Morning'" on his album Lucky to Be Me
  • An instrumental version of the song was performed by The Brothas & Sistas on the album Woke Up This Morning[citation needed]
In sports
In television
  • A remixed version of "Woke Up This Morning" plays during the opening credits of the HBO television series The Sopranos. "Since it's been on The Sopranos," Spragg remarked, "we've met some nice men in Armani suits with fat hands and eaten some nice Italian food. But we're very happy to be associated with a programme of that calibre. While in no way endorsing the use of guns in any fetishistic manner, obviously."[6] (On the Region 4 DVD release of season 1 of the Sopranos, the music video to "Woke Up This Morning" is included as a special feature. It is incorrectly credited as being performed by "Alabama 5".)
  • Additionally, in The Sopranos season 1 episode "Boca", "Woke Up This Morning (Urban Takeover Mix)" can be heard in a tense scene as Tony Soprano ponders retaliation against his daughter's soccer coach for sexually abusing an underage player.
  • A shortened alternate version of "Woke Up This Morning" can be heard for nearly 50 seconds in The Simpsons episode "Poppa's Got a Brand New Badge", while Fat Tony and his gang are on the ride to the Simpsons' house. The sequence is a parody of the opening sequence of The Sopranos.[7] *"Woke Up This Morning" is also heard in the later Simpsons episode "The Mook, the Chef, the Wife and Her Homer", which guest-starred Sopranos regulars Michael Imperioli and Joe Pantoliano
  • "Woke Up This Morning" was used in an episode of the BBC series Top Gear, in which the team were driving through Florida
  • "Woke Up This Morning" was used in the episode "Ghosts" (season 2, episode 8) of the Netflix series Lilyhammer, in which Frank Tagliano (Steven Van Zandt) and his Norwegian crew are driving through New York City
  • The song is parodied in the episode "The Dabba Don" of Harvey Birdman, Attorney at Law, which parodies various mob stereotypes, including The Sopranos, using The Flintstones


  1. ^ "Alabama 3 - Woke Up This Morning (Chosen One Mix)". Discogs. Retrieved 2017-06-24.
  2. ^ Murray Smith, "Just What Is It That Makes Tony Soprano Such An Appealing, Attractive Murderer", in Ward E. Jones and Samantha Vice, eds., Ethics at the Cinema (Oxford University Press, 2010), ISBN 978-0199793167, p. 78. Excerpts available at Google Books.
  3. ^ Ron Sobel and Dick Weissman, Music Publishing: The Roadmap to Royalties (Routledge, 2008), ISBN 978-0203895689, p. 101. Excerpts available at Google Books.
  4. ^ Duncan Campbell, "Face off", The Guardian, September 27, 2007.
  5. ^ David Johannson, "Homeward Bound" Those Soprano Titles Come Heavy", in David Lavery, ed., Reading The Sopranos: Hit TV from HBO (I.B. Tauris, 2006), ISBN 978-1845111212, pp. 35-36. Excerpts available at Google Books.
  6. ^ a b Q, May 2001 Missing or empty |title= (help)
  7. ^ Gilbert, Gerard (June 14, 2011). "TV credit where credits are due". The Independent.