The Justified tradition has been to end each season with Darrell Scott’s You’ll Never Leave Harlan Alive. The version hasn’t always been the same — Brad Paisley, Dave Alvin — and there are a lot of options. But this year, the honor of taking the season out fell to Los Angeles-based artist Ruby Friedman and her orchestra.
Friedman has been involved in FX shows before, namely Sons of Anarchy, and she’s known for her work with Jeff Goldblum’s jazz group. Her song Shooting Star was also used as a promotional tune for NBC’s America’s Got Talent.
The wailing, percussive version of Harlan was chosen in part because the season ended with Ava Crowder at the center of the intensifying struggle between Deputy U.S. Marshal Raylan Givens and Harlan crime boss Boyd Crowder.
“I had as a goal from early on using a female cover of the song when a season would end with a dilemma for Ava. It really is the question: We know it’s gonna come down to Raylan and Boyd, but what’s gonna happen to Ava? And will she survive this story? Or will she be killed? It felt like almost more than any other time we’ve used it, it was appropriate. The singer is Ruby Friedman, and we heard that version three years ago at the end of season 2, but went with the Brad Paisley version, and then Dave Alvin last year. So it was time for Ruby, and it was actually written in the script that as Ava walks back to the car Ruby Friedman’s version kicked in.”
For what was a fairly disappointing season of Justified, it was a pretty killer way to go out and leave us salivating for the final season, next year.