Why ‘The Sopranos’ Season 3 Ended With Songs in Italian, French, Chinese, and Spanish

When David Chase thought of music to use on The Sopranos, he didn’t always turn to songs he considered great compositions. Chase knew that life isn’t like that: Sometimes you’re in the pizza place and you hear a song you don’t like. But you hang out and eat your pizza anyway.

That at least partially explains why Chase chose “Don’t Stop Believin'” for the series finale. When he mentioned the songs he had in mind for that final scene, crew members immediately reacted — as if they were disgusted — to the Journey track. So he thought it would work well.

In the season 3 finale, Chase had a completely different motivation. The final scene, which follows the funeral of Jackie Aprile Jr. (Jason Cerbone), features Junior Soprano (Dominic Chianese) taking the stage to sing “Core ‘ngrato” (“Ungrateful Heart”) for the mourners present.

It brings tears to the eyes of most in the room. On the surface, it just seems like a sentimental song sung by an old man in a slightly overwrought way. But Chase had a distinct motivation for including the track, which was followed by mournful songs in French, Chinese, and Spanish before the credits rolled.

David Chase had 4 foreign-language songs play in the final scene of ‘The Sopranos’ Season 3

Dominic Chianese singing
Dominic Chianese performs at the Table 4 Writers Foundation gala in 2013. | Mike Coppola/Getty Images for Table 4 Writers Foundation

RELATED: ‘The Sopranos’: The Al Green Song David Chase Considered Instead of ‘Don’t Stop Believin’ in the Finale

If you stop paying attention, the season 3 Sopranos finale’s musical choices could easily slip by you. Chase cuts the sound in the midst of Junior’s performance of “Core ‘ngrato.” Then a French voice comes onto the soundtrack.

That voice belongs to Lucienne Boyer, who sings “Parlez-moi d’amour.” That translates as “Speak to Me of Love.” In brief, it’s an equally sentimental song. It doesn’t last long, though. Before the verse ends, the music cuts to “Wondering,” a song sung in Mandarin with piano accompaniment.

The camera continues flashing around the room at various Sopranos family members and friends. And after a few bars of the Chinese music, another song cuts in: “La Enramada” by Los Tres Ases. “As an errant bird I shall live,” the singer sings in Spanish. “Looking for an end to my pain. And with the longing for your love I will die.” Then the credits mercifully roll.

Chase wanted to make a point about the way music is used manipulatively all around the world

Steven van Zandt and James Gandolfini in 'The Sopranos'
Steve Van Zandt (L) & James Gandolfini perform in scene from ‘The Sopranos.’ | Anthony Neste/The LIFE Images Collection via Getty Images

In a 2005 interview Chase gave for Martha Nochimson’s Dying to Belong, the Sopranos creator made it clear he wasn’t trying to show off his production’s ability to get pretty songs on the soundtrack. He wanted to show how music can be used in the most manipulative way — and how everyone does it.

“That singing thing is about how all over the world people engage in pure sentimentality,” Chase said, via Sopranos Autopsy. “Everyone loves a good cry. […] It also has something to do with entertainment, filmed entertainment. Music can be used so manipulatively.”

As for Junior being the messenger — and thus the instigator of so many tears — Chase did that on purpose, too. “Junior, who is the most selfish character in the cast, is pouring his heart out,” Chase said in Dying to Belong. “Didn’t mean a thing. Just to wallow in the moment. […] It was to give the audience a laugh about how they are being manipulated everyday.”