In 2002 Joss Whedon took science fiction, threw in some classic Western drama tropes, mixed in a little bit of Chinese flavor, shook the whole bunch together with a brilliant ensemble cast and out popped Firefly, which quickly established itself as one of the most interesting and dynamic speculative fiction shows ever to be put on the air. After eleven episodes of criminal mismanagement by the FOX network, the show was taken off the air. During its brief run, Firefly gained a legion of ardent fans, enough interest to support a movie sequel, and a place in my list of the top ten science fiction television shows.
One of the things that made the show great was the tone set by its opening theme song The Ballad of Serenity. Sung by blues giant Sonny Rhodes, the song encapsulates the weary, tired, and yet still defiant nature of the crew of the Serenity. With the show centered on Mal and Zoe, worn down by being veterans of a war in which they chose the right side and yet still lost, the tone needed to be melancholy and wistful and yet contain an undercurrent of barely suppressed anger and rage. Rhodes' voice and Weedon's lyrics captured this perfectly.
Note: This is an extended version of the song. The original opening credits were just under a minute in length. This version is almost three minutes, and given Rhodes' brilliant performance of the song, this just makes it even better.
Previous Musical Monday: Band of Brothers Opening Theme
Subsequent Musical Monday: Star Trek: The Original Series Opening Theme
Sonny Rhodes Game, Movie, and Television Music Musical Monday Home