UPDATE: According to Spotify, global streams of Badfinger’s “Baby Blue” is up 9000 percent since last night’s finale of Breaking Bad.
Breaking Bad, as you know if you’ve ever so much as glanced at social media, is over. There’s a risk of spoilage ahead, so choose to read on accordingly, but the AMC TV juggernaut about Walter White ended, brilliantly, with music from another set of tragic geniuses. “Baby Blue,” by ’60s-cooked British rockers Badfinger, aired over the closing scene where — well, maybe you didn’t notice that spoiler alert above, so we’ll keep mum for a second.
Badfinger signed to the Beatles’ Apple Records in 1968, and from 1970 to 1971 they had a handful of hits in a jangling, melodic, Paul McCartney-ish style. One, “Come and Get It,” was written by McCartney himself (you can hear his demo in the Beatles’ Anthology set). “No Matter What,” “Day After Day,” and “Baby Blue” soon followed onto the charts. Badfinger’s Pete Ham and Tom Evans also wrote “Without You,” a chart-topping ballad for Harry Nilsson — a younger generation may know it from Mariah Carey’s operatic cover version.
But Badfinger, for all their obvious gifts, also suffered a doomed fate that must’ve resonated with Breaking Bad creator Vince Gilligan. After the collapse of Apple Records and various financial woes, Ham hung himself in 1975, leaving a note castigating the band’s manager. He was just a few days short of his 28th birthday. Evans hung himself in 1983.
Ham’s lyrics, it could be said, are almost a little too on the nose for Walt’s farewell: “I guess I got what I deserved,” “the special love I have you for / my baby blue.” But that’s in keeping with the show’s previous use of Tommy James and the Shondells’ “Crystal Blue Persuasion,” and aside from the White family baby’s amazing ability to nap almost constantly, the occasional bit of heavy-handed imagery was perhaps the show’s dominant flaw, if any (when the camera lingers on a knife, it will be used). But Badfinger’s tragic real-life story lends a fitting undercurrent of darkness to the conclusion of Gilligan’s American tragedy.
A perfect way to leave Breaking Bad fans everywhere feeling blue their show is done.