Sons of Anarchy is rolling along with its sixth season, and the music-heavy biker drama on FX has already tapped into the Rolling Stones and Marianne Faithfull’s “As Tears Go By.” The show’s music supervisor and composer Bob Thiele has more up his sleeve, diving into Sly and the Family Stone for a cover of “Everyday People” and teaming with singer-songwriter Jennifer O’Connor on the original track “Running Blues.”
Both songs presented a different set of challenges. For “Everyday People,” Thiele was mindful of Sly Stone’s legacy while managing the thrill of playing one of his songs. “Recording ‘Everyday People’ has easily been the biggest challenge I’ve had over the course of working on this show,” Thiele tells Rolling Stone. “First of all, Sly. In my book, none better. As big as the Beatles or Stones.”
Much of the difficulty involved expanding “Everyday People” from its original form to five-and-a-half minutes – along with fitting vocalists Audra Mae, Billy Valentine, Katey Sagal, Curtis Stigers and Franky Perez into the track. “When approaching a cover for the show, I immediately toss out any design to render the song like the original,” Thiele says. “Finding a new voice for the song, that’s the challenge and that is what makes this work so gratifying.”
On “Running Blues,” Thiele was able to connect with O’Connor for an original track with the Forest Rangers. “Back in the days of Season Three, I was listening to Jennifer O’Connor’s latest album,” Thiele says, noting he used her track “The Church and the River” in Sons of Anarchy. Thiele became a fan of O’Connor’s and the two started talking about a collaboration.
“I had this idea, something very simple, atmospheric but edgy and rhythmic,” Thiele says. “I don’t write songs much anymore so when I do, I feel like it’s important for there to be some meaning other than just throwing another tune out into the abyss.” The pair found a natural connection. “This is really just a happy moment of true happenstance that came out of nothing other than a cosmic and divine inspiration,” Thiele says. “There was no scene to write it for, no accompanying purpose for the show itself.”