“The Last of Us” showed the next big needle drop
Warning: This article contains spoilers for The last of us Episode 3, “A Long Long Time”.
The last of us practically proved in the first three episodes that it can tug at our collective hearts. But it’s the Sunday night outing, the mostly standalone episode “Long Long Time,” that gave us a collective punch in the gut thanks to a love story brought to life with the help of a 1970s song.
The episode follows Bill (Nick Offerman) and Frank (Murray Bartlett) as they trip over each other and fall in love after the fungal outbreak and spend years together before their tragic end. Part of what made their getting together possible in the first place was a serenade of the Linda Ronstadt song “Long Long Time” (which also doubles as the episode title) after Frank discovered a sheet music book with the name on it the best of Linda Ronstadt.
“Oh my god, that’s my favorite,” says Frank after guessing that the book matches his impression of Bill. He sits down to play the song, and while he can play the piano well enough, Frank can’t sing to save his life. Bill gets him to quit, but he’s goaded into playing, if only to get Frank to leave home. He then plays a slower rendition of the song before they share their first kiss.
At the end of the episode, Joel (Pedro Pascal) and Ellie (Bella Ramsey) hear the song – the original Ronstadt version – on a mixtape Frank made for Bill that Joel originally wanted to turn off. Joel recognizes Ronstadt’s voice, but Ellie has no idea who she is.
It might not have been a song that every viewer would have immediately recognized, but according to co-creator Craig Mazin, it was intentional.
“I had a thought that this was going to happen, that a song would be played, and that we’d be surprised who was good at it and who was bad at it,” Mazin told IndieWire in a post-mortem interview. “I remember saying to Neil, ‘I’m not sure what the song is, I just know it has to be this incredibly sad song about longing for love, and never getting love, and just his Make peace with the fact that you will always be alone. But it can’t be the nose. And it can’t be a song we all know.’”
In a way, using “Long Long Time” is in The last of us is comparable to like stranger things implemented Kate Bush’s “Running Up That Hill” last year: a pinprick that delivers no matter how familiar you were with the song beforehand. Not only is it a great song in its own right, but it resonates. And it’s not even the only time it happens: The last of us uses Max Richter’s “On the Nature of Daylight” (an instrumental piece previously published in arrival) later in the episode to great effect.
“How many people do you think found out about Linda Ronstadt for the first time last night?” @alex_b82 tweeted. “Excited for her.”
On TikTok, many videos with audio from “Long Long Time” were dedicated to Bill and Frank or shared how emotionally devastated the episode garnered them thousands of views to the tune. While we may not have renditions yet, or many elaborate fan videos, it’s only a matter of time.
@anntokkii how I sobbed hysterically || #thelastofus #thelastofusshow #tlou #tloushow #lindaronstadt #longlongtime #pedopascal #bellaramsey #hbo #hbomax #joelmiller #fypシ ♬ Long Long Time – Remastered – Linda Ronstadt
@aloe.beans I love how they changed this little story for us #fyp #tlouhbo #tlouhboepisode3 #billandfrank ♬ Long Long Time – Remastered – Linda Ronstadt
Some people even imagined Ronstadt’s reaction to the surge in interest in the decades-old song.
And there was a lot of interest in the song. According to Spotify, just a few hours after “Long Long Time” aired, there was a 4,900% increase in streams of the Ronstadt song compared to last week’s streams. Given the interest in The last of us and its use of music, it probably won’t be the last we’ll see this bump in effect.
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*Initial publication: January 30, 2023 2:39 pm CST
Michelle Jaworski is a staff writer and television/film critic at the Daily Dot. Covering entertainment, geek culture and pop culture, she has covered everything from the Sundance Film Festival, NYFF and Tribeca to New York Comic Con and Con of Thrones. She lives in Brooklyn.
https://www.dailydot.com/unclick/the-last-of-us-linda-ronstadt-long-long-time/ “The Last of Us” showed the next big needle drop