Unless you live in the Sudetenland and your life is consumed with annexation, you know why this is here. Breaking Bad used Badfinger‘s lovely epic, “Baby Blue,” to close the series and it was a masterful end note for maybe the greatest TV show ever. I’m already depressed and jittery because I know another Breaking Bad fix will never come. If our president is half as Staliny as these misspelled bumper stickers think he is, he’ll ensure that, if nothing else, Bryan Cranston acts in everything. Make it happen, Obama.
The inclusion of “Baby Blue” was a stroke of genius for multiple reasons, the most obvious being that Walter White’s meth was baby blue. Like the show’s use of “Crystal Blue Persuasion” (“Gliding Over All,” Season 5, Episode 8), the song is clearly for and about Cranston’s addictive co-star, and that’s not my random rumination. Vince Gilligan admitted as much on Talking Bad immediately after the finale’s conclusion. Remember, Walter White dies in the lab, not with his family. Why? Because he liked it, dummy. It was the meth that turned him into Heisenberg. Of course, his baby’s eyes were painfully blue (poor, beautiful Holly) and the romantic daddy in me reserves a heart-shaped slice of the song for her. Finally, the series and band both have the word “Bad” in their name. In a conjured world where everything seemingly had its place, there’s symmetry in badness.
Let us never lose sight of the fact that “Baby Blue” is also a great fucking pop song and maybe THE template for the entire power pop genre. Pete Ham’s love note to an old girlfriend bubbles over with melody and the Ham/Evans harmonies are in full flower. And speaking of Ham and Evans, the reality of Badfinger’s tragic ending cannot possibly be an accidental reference. I refuse to believe that Vince Gilligan chose this song simply because “Baby Blue” just happened to be the color of Walter White’s trademark product. Pete Ham’s suicide by hanging in 1975 and Tom Evans’ suicide by hanging in 1983 has to factor in there somewhere, right? Well, maybe not. But, there’s a certain irony that the Ham and Evans suicides were related directly to their association with corrupt manager and killer of the human spirit, Stan Polley, in the same way that so many people caught in the White/Heisenberg orbit also met untimely deaths. [removes tinfoil hat]
The numbers don’t lie. 36 hours after Breaking Bad‘s final episode, “Baby Blue” is the most popular song in the world. It’s been downloaded roughly a billion times through iTunes and Amazon, and for all of us old-school Badfinger fans, there is a tremendous sense of cosmic justice. In the discussion of all-time great pop/rock bands, Badfinger is a core member of “The Killer Bs”: The Beatles, The Beach Boys, and Big Star. If you’re new to the Badfinger canon, you could certainly do a lot worse than getting the album from which “Baby Blue” comes, Straight Up (1971). My two faves are No Dice (1970) and Wish You Were Here (1974), but all 3 albums are essential. If you beautiful people wanna make it right, you’ll buy Badfinger albums. Do it.
IF YOU WANT IT, HERE IT IS COME AND GET IT