Sopranos Creator David Chase Reveals Why He Picked *That* Song For *That* Scene

"Made in America," the series finale of "The Sopranos," delivered one of the more divisive yet memorable endings in the Golden Age of TV. Series creator David Chase recently appeared on the "WTF with Marc Maron" podcast (via THR) to promote his "Sopranos" movie prequel, "The Many Saints of Newark." Discussion came around to "The Sopranos" ending scene, and Chase finally revealed why he chose the song, "Don't Stop Believin'," by the band Journey, for that scene.

Here's what Chase said:

"I didn't know Journey was the answer. In preproduction [for the final season], there was going to be a song at the end [Tony] was going to play in the jukebox. I was in the scout van with the department heads ... and I had never done this before. I said, 'Listen, I'm going to talk about three songs that I am thinking about for ending the show.' "

Journey was one of the three possible contenders, with the Al Green song, "Love and Happiness," being another one. (Chase couldn't remember the third one.) It was Journey, however, that provoked the strongest reaction from Chase's crew. He continued:

"They went, 'Oh, Jesus Christ, no. Don't do that! Ugh. F**k.' And I said, 'Well, that's it. That's the one.' I wasn't saying that just to throw it in their face. That was kind of my favorite and it got a reaction of some kind. So I can make this song lovable, which it had been."

If you haven't seen "The Sopranos" or its finale and have somehow managed to avoid ever hearing about it, now's your chance to back out before we delve into spoilers.

That Abrupt Cut to Black

It's worth talking about the context in which that song, "Don't Stop Believin'," appears in "The Sopranos" finale. In the ending scene, crime boss Tony Soprano (James Gandolfini) and his wife and son, Carmela and A.J. (Edie Falco and Robert Iler), are sitting in a diner booth. The song is playing on the jukebox, and Tony looks around, not so much people-watching as being aware of his surroundings.

A man who has just walked into the diner moments before gets up from his nearby bar stool and heads to the restroom. The song continues to play and tension continues to build as Tony's daughter, Meadow (Jamie-Lynn Sigler), tries to parallel park outside and eventually succeeds. She walks up to the diner, the door dings, and Tony looks up. Then, the screen abruptly cuts to black, right as the song's chorus lands on the words, "Don't stop."

If you go back and watch the scene, it's implied that the man who slid past Tony to the restroom was pulling a Michael Corleone and retrieving a gun from there like in "The Godfather." The abrupt cut to black would then be Tony getting shot in the back of the head, having his life snuffed out by a mob hitman without seeing it coming.

Having "Don't Stop Believin' " play during this scene — in an episode titled "Made in America" — gives it another layer as commentary on the hollowed-out American dream, which even turns gangsters like Tony Soprano into dissatisfied therapy patients. Yet perhaps it's the very ambiguity of this scene that made it so memorable and has us still taking about it and "The Sopranos" all these years later.

"The Many Saints of Newark" hits theaters and HBO Max on October 1, 2021.