The third season of HBO’s crime drama, Boardwalk Empire has just finished. Having spent a good deal of time in the Atlantic City area when I was young, I have become a big fan of the show which is based on historical criminal figures. There is a lot to like about the show and many focus on the once-in-a-lifetime role of gangster Nucky Thompson as played by Steve Buscemi. Indeed he is incredible. But what transports you into 1920’s prohibition era South Jersey shore are the sets, costumes, cinematography and perhaps most importantly, the music.
Released last September, Boardwalk Empire Volume 1 : Music From The HBO Original Series features jazz and bluesy voices covering early 1900s standards. Vince Giordano and the Nighthawks are the featured band throughout the album. They back-up Regina Spektor, who sings a classic song made famous in 1921 by Ziegfeld Follies singer Fanny Brice, “My Girl”. The modern version became popular when Barbra Streisand recorded it on her 1965 album My Name Is Barbra and performed it in the 1968 film Funny Girl.
This past season of the show came to a close with the last few episodes featuring some fantastic old-timey covers recorded expressly for the show. The National were featured in episode ten with an end-credits cover of “I’ll See You in My Dreams” featuring Vince Giordano and the Nighthawks. The song was originally recorded in 1925 by Isham Jones and the Ray Miller Orchestra. The season finale ended with “I Ain’t Got Nobody” by the godmother of punk Patti Smith. Although the track is best known by Louis Prima from 1956 as a medley with the standard “Just a Gigolo”, it was a popular song also recorded by Bessie Smith, Fats Waller, Louis Armstrong, Bing Crosby, the Mills Brothers, Cab Calloway, Emmett Miller, Merle Haggard, Bob Wills, Coleman Hawkins, Rosemary Clooney, and more.