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Baker's Dozen

Mob Deep: Michael Imperioli's Favourite Music
Simon Price , August 5th, 2020 09:21

Actor, writer, producer and musician Michael Imperioli – best known for playing Christopher Moltisanti in The Sopranos – chooses his 13 favourite tracks, and discusses the use of music in the series. Simon Price listens in an unmarked van across the street.


New York Dolls - 'Jet Boy'
There was this really crazy guy who lived on my block when I was eight or nine who was into drugs, and me and my friends really weren't, especially at eight or nine, not even at 10 or 11. But he was really early into smoking pot and I don't know what else, at like 11. But I remember he had this album, and it was guys dressed as women, which was not a thing any of us had ever seen before. I didn't understand what they were trying to do. I didn't really get it. I was a little put off, or scared of it. It was just something I'd never seen before. I don't think I even heard their music until several years later, but I immediately just got taken by their sound and their songwriting, and everything that they represented.

They're one of the bands I really wish I could have seen live – especially Johnny Thunders. I just love his songwriting and guitar playing, both with the Dolls and after. I've seen David Johansen play a bunch of times. I actually saw him open for Morrissey once where he played all New York Dolls songs, at the Apollo Theater. I saw him last year at the Carlyle Hotel, which is a cabaret room in New York, and it was David Johansen as Buster Poindexter, but doing kind of a retrospective of David Johansen, if that makes sense. I was with my friend Jesse Malin, who is a great musician, and we were sitting next to Martin Scorsese who, I think, was filming that concert and is now making a documentary about David Johansen. When the New York Dolls got back together, a very good friend of mine Steve Conte played the Johnny Thunders parts on the album. Actually, my band has played a lot of shows with him in New York. He's a great musician and a really good guy.

But the original Dolls, they only made three albums but the songs are just monumental, and so influential. In many ways, not just the kind of more hard rock hair bands that were influenced by them, but also the more esoteric punk bands got influenced by them. Guitarists have been influenced by Sylvain Sylvain and Johnny Thunders forever, and probably will be forever. This song, I actually wrote a pilot for a TV show with that title, Jet Boy, that HBO bought but didn't wind up making when there was kind of a regime change at HBO and the person who bought my script left, so we never got a chance to make it. But it was about a kid who comes to New York from the Midwest in the early '70s, and it actually wound up being a precursor to my book, which deals with the similar topic.