James Gandolfini’s funeral was held this morning at the Cathedral Church of Saint John the Divine in New York. Among the mourners were his “Sopranos” castmates as well as the show’s creator, David Chase, who offered a eulogy for his friend and colleague. Alan Sepinwall, who for 14 years served as the television columnist at The Star-Ledger, Tony Soprano’s newspaper of choice, posted a transcript of what he said at HitFix. “I tried to write a traditional eulogy, but it came out like bad TV,” Chase confessed, and what he wrote instead is sad and lovely, and proposes one last scene for the character Gandolfini played so well:
You know, everybody knows that we always ended an episode with a song. That was kind of like me and the writers letting the real geniuses do the heavy lifting: Bruce, and Mick and Keith, and Howling Wolf and a bunch of them. So if this was an episode, it would end with a song. And the song, as far as I’m concerned, would be Joan Osborne’s “(What If God Was) One Of Us?” And the set-up for this — we never did this, and you never even heard this — is that Tony was somehow lost in the Meadowlands. He didn’t have his car, and his wallet, and his car keys. I forget how he got there — there was some kind of a scrape — but he had nothing in his pocket but some change. He didn’t have his guys with him, he didn’t have his gun. And so mob boss Tony Soprano had to be one of the working stiffs, getting in line for the bus. And the way we were going to film it, he was going to get on the bus, and the lyric that would’ve one over that would’ve been — and we don’t have Joan Osborne to sing it:
If God had a face
what would it look like?
And would you want to see
if seeing meant you had to believe?
And yeah, yeah, God is great.
Yeah, yeah, God is good.
Yeah, yeah, yeah.
So Tony would get on the bus, and he would sit there, and the bus would pull out in this big billow of diesel smoke. And then the key lyric would come on, and it was
What if God was one of us?
Just a slob like one of us?
Just a stranger on the bus
trying to make his way home.
And that would’ve been playing over your face.