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Cuttin’ Heads: Way Down In The Hole

One great song. Five great versions. Which is best?

It was right down to The Wire when it came to picking the ultimate version of this devilishly brilliant song.

From 2002 to 2008, The Wire, HBO’s gritty crime drama set on the mean streets of Baltimore, was one of the greatest, most complex and thought-provoking programmes on television. And with each individual series providing an intricate study of a different corrupt section of the city’s society – drug dealing gangs, seaport workers, shady members of the government, the school system and the newspaper trade – an inspired idea on the part of the producers was to have a different artist perform the theme song, Tom Waits’ sublime, gospel inspired Way Down In The Hole, for each season.

In doing so, they provided a thread connecting the whole epic saga together, while giving each new run a distinct personality of its own. So we have five unique takes arriving in rapid succession, and, unusually enough, they’re almost all great in their own way.

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