In Hear This, A.V. Club writers sing the praises of songs they know well. This week, we’re talking about songs we’ve discovered via TV shows.
I started watching Friday Night Lights despite the football premise and stuck around because it was so much more than a show about sports. The shooting style aimed for a natural, organic feel—producer Jeffrey Reiner described it as “no rehearsal, no blocking, just three cameras and we shoot”—and it worked. Aiding the very lived-in feeling of Friday Night Lights was the score, which many believe was done by instrumental band Explosions In The Sky. “Your Hand In Mine” is credited all over the Internet as the show’s opening theme song, but listen closely and you’ll realize it’s not quite. The actual song over the credits, called, appropriately, “Friday Night Lights Theme,” is composed by W.G. Snuffy Walden and sounds so much like an EITS song it might as well be. The show’s producers originally wanted an EITS song for the theme, but the band turned them down. “They asked us for one of our songs for the theme song, and we said ‘No way!’ Boy, were we dummies,” guitarist Munaf Rayani told The A.V. Club Austin in 2011. “We got a few chuckles when we heard the theme song they used… They ask you for something, and you say no, and they’ll just rip it off.”
Listen to EITS’ “Your Hand In Mine” next to Walden’s credit song, and “Friday Night Lights Theme” does sound like a slightly less impressive EITS song. But Walden does a good job imprinting the feeling of “Your Hand In Mine” for the credits, starting soft and melancholy before growing in intensity. Like the show, a few beats quickly turn into something deep and profound, a dry Texas landscape giving way to an abundance of rich stories. Most of that opening sequence doesn’t even show football, rather the town of Dillon and the people in it.
So even though technically EITS didn’t do the opening song, through the misconception and the Internet I still discovered and loved “Your Hand In Mine” and the band that made it. Its stirring drums and cascading guitar crescendos and decrescendos are still the sounds I associate with Dillon, Texas, rolling in waves of teenage heartbreak, complicated family relationships, and high anticipation for Friday’s game. I was in college when I got into Friday Night Lights and subsequently Explosions In The Sky, and other friends who were fans of the band often described it as “good study music.” But I could never get behind that, because despite its lack of of lyrics, there’s too much propulsive intensity for me to focus on anything else than the driving energy of each song.