Sons of Anarchy house band the Forest Rangers have been known to kick it old-school: Last month, they unveiled their scorching cover of blues classic “Baby, Please Don’t Go” for the Season Seven episode “Poor Little Lambs.” But for this week’s installment, “Greensleeves,” the eclectic group went even further back, reworking the titular English folk ballad into a brooding textural epic.
“Greensleeves stirred my heart anew / Greensleeves caught my eye of blue,” sings the show’s star Katey Sagal over drifting acoustic guitars, cello and keyboards. “Greensleeves put my soul at ease / So I gave my love to sweet Greensleeves.”
The show’s musical supervisor, Bob Thiele, told Rolling Stone that it was “challenging” trying to recreate “arguably one of the great melodies in all of history.”
“It’s happy and hopeful at Christmas time, but that’s obviously not what we are looking for here in Charming, much as we wish that were the case,” he says. “Traditionally, ‘Greensleeves’ is in 6/8 time, which suggests a joyful and/or serene mood. So the first thing I did was deconstruct the rhythm, playing it in quarter time, and change harmonic structure to minor as opposed to major in order to get us to the dark side!”
The song is utilized during a montage in the episode, wherein “there’s so much to grieve. . . and in so many of our montages, there are no words spoken. Only the music and the voice.” All the technicalities fade, Thiele says, “once Katey Sagal opens her mouth.”
“Once again, she brings her elegant beauty and grace to our soundtrack,” he continues. “Katey has consistently provided some wonderful renditions of songs from all over the musical spectrum showing her incredible diversity and range. Whether it be ‘Son Of A Preacher Man’ or ‘Ruby Tuesday,’ ‘Strange Fruit’ or ‘To Sir With Love,’ Katey’s artistic intuition has propelled the drama in ways that words could not.”
Below, check out an exclusive listen to the track.