At the end of the last episode of The Sopranos, the scene flashes to an image of a Jukebox with the Journey classics “Don’t Stop Believing” and “Any Way You Want It”. Patriarch Tony Soprano chooses the first song as the music that would carry us out of one of the most successful television series of all time. The ending was brilliant and well-chosen for a fan base that would have been disappointed with an ending that was not left to the imagination to complete. What made it even more brilliant is the choice by Creator/Producer David Chase to choose “Believing” over “Any Way” by showing us that any way was what he intended through a quick and fleeting visual of both sides of the record. The show will remain timeless and mysterious for the future to come, as he intended.
We find ourselves in a similar place of record. One one side we mentally play “Don’t Stop Believing” and on the backside we play “Any Way You Want It”. Side one reminds us that we have put ourselves in a place where we have banked dreams which are behind locked doors. Side two says that things can go in a lot of different directions and that we are ultimately responsible for where we land. Everyone owns this record and some of us choose to only listen and not act relegating the tune over time to what could have been.
The ending to the Sopranos was a quick fade to black which left many wondering what happened and suspecting they would need to have a tough talk with their cable or satellite provider for the gross injustice of relieving them of conclusion. As intended, the quick fade to black left mystery, as a slow fade might have suggested a soft future continuity of Tony and family. The quick fade supported both premises of “any way you want it” and “don’t stop believing” . We were given the gift of writing the ending as our projection of how we wanted to things to end. The creator gave us options to believe any way we wanted.
We are given the same in life and it is as mysterious to those who have no viewers in life. We know our dreams are behind glass and we know there are variations, but we often choose those that are closest to hand instead of searching through the folder titled “options”. The record becomes fuzzy like an old cassette tape where the “A” side of the tape appears to have bled onto the “B” side of the tape when we choose to believe that our dreams will someone automagically come into alignment when we make a simple choice to go one way or the other.
Brilliant writers like Chase know that writing an ending to an acclaimed series is tough – really tough and they know there are detractors and fans and they choose what will serve their audience best. Someone has to make the tough call and in this case life-giver decides how his creation will die. He gave the life in a way he felt served the creation and he ended the life in the way it best served his creation. It was his to decide, we are just visitor viewers to his vision and clearly the “right” ending would have never been resolved in committee.
In order to get the ending we want, we must create the beginning that sets the tone and we need to leave clues in the process about how things will end. In essence we must get access to our dreams, take them from the vault and put them in place they are not always safe, but are close at hand. We must choose which dream to work first and which ones to work thereafter. We must choose which dreams we will pursue with passion and which ones might die in the process if they are scripted as to take a minor or defeated role. We can then make sure we are inserting ourselves into a place that insures we can now live a life that has the true outcome of “any way you want it”. We must choose to have viewers though, an audience of trusted advisors who can participate serially in our lives with both praise and criticism for the story we write so that we keep our characters honest and true, engaging and brilliant. We are defined by the dreams we pursue, the action we take to drive fruition of those dreams and we must live in accordance with the “B Side” that in clear melody reminds us that:
Any way you want it
That’s the way you need it