The true-crime writer Michelle McNamara spent years hunting for the Golden State Killer, the notorious serial killer who evaded capture for decades. In 2016, McNamara died of an accidental overdose at the age of 46. Two years later, police arrested Joseph James DeAngelo, the alleged Golden State Killer, and McNamara’s widower Patton Oswalt said that McNamara’s research was instrumental in that arrest. Also in 2018, the book I’ll Be Gone In The Dark, McNamara’s posthumous memoir about her hunt for the murderer, was published. (I’m genuinely shocked to learn that the person who finished McNamara’s book after her death is Billy Jensen, a guy who’s been my boss at two different jobs.) Now, I’ll Be Gone In The Dark has become an HBO documentary series, and it’s got some cool theme music.
The great singer-songwriter Aimee Mann was a good friend of Michelle McNamara; she sang at her wedding. For the I’ll Be Gone In The Dark theme music, Mann has covered another great singer-singwriter. She’s contributed her version of “Avalanche,” the Leonard Cohen song from the man’s classic 1971 album Songs Of Love And Hate. It’s not the first time a Leonard Cohen song has been the theme music for an HBO show; the network also used his “Nevermind” as the opening-credits music for the second True Detective season in 2015.
Cohen wrote “Avalanche” from the perspective of a hunchback living at the bottom of a gold mine, so it’s appropriately dark, considering the material here. Mann’s brief take on the song is lovely and forbidding and entirely faithful to the original. HBO has made the first episode of I’ll Be Gone In The Dark free to watch even if you’re not a subscriber, and you can check it out here. Mann’s “Avalanche” cover starts at the 1:51 mark. Below, check out Cohen’s original “Avalanche,” which still rules.
I’ll Be Gone In The Dark airs Sunday nights on HBO.