Steven Knight’s period crime drama Peaky Blinders is one of the most popular shows currently on television – but what is the song that plays in the opening credits, and who sings it? The show first aired on BBC Two in 2013 and will conclude with a feature movie following the end of Peaky Blinders season 6. Peaky Blinders stars Cillian Murphy, Paul Anderson, and the late Helen McCrory.
Set in Birmingham, England, Peaky Blinders depicts the rise of an Irish-Romani family of gαngsters, led by Tommy Shelby (Murphy). Beginning in 1919, in the aftermath of the First World War, the Shelbys expand their criminal enterprise throughout England, attracting the attention of the police and rival gαngsters. The show has featured high-profile actors in supporting roles, including Tom Hardy, Adrien Brody, Sam Neill, and Anya Taylor-Joy as the scheming Gina Gray.10 SecSquid Game: 15 Things You Missed
Befitting a series filled with murder and nefarious characters, Peaky Blinders’ opening credits are set to the song “Red Right Hand” by Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds. The wonderfully eerie music perfectly captures the show’s tone, conveying the dangerous appeal of the Shelby gαng, which often takes precedence over their vi0lence. It should come as no surprise that the song has been spotlighted in various films and TV shows, especially within a particular horror franchise.
“Red Right Hand” was first released by the Australian rock band in 1994. The song’s title was inspired by the John Milton poem Paradise Lost, in which the unsettling hand refers to divine vengeance. The song’s lyrics describe a magnetic, god-like figure who corrupts individuals through his manipulative nature. “You don’t have no money? He’ll get you some” and “Stacks of green paper in his red right hand” effectively reflect the Peaky Blinders gαng’s power and notoriety in Birmingham, and their involvement in gambling. Talking to The New York Post, Knight revealed that the song was only going to be used in the first episode, but the lyrics connected with the story and characters so well he decided to make it Peaky Blinders’ theme. Per Knight, “The lyrics conjure up our industrial landscape.” Indeed, the image of crossing the railyard tracks into the part of town marred by slums, “Where the viaduct looms like a bird of doom … Past the mills, past the stacks” evokes the humble, grimy Birmingham setting.
The “tall handsome man with a dusty black coat with a red right hand” could easily represent Cillian Murphy’s Tommy Shelby, the charismatic gαng leader dressed in a flowing dark coat, who towers over everyone on his black horse. However, Peaky Blinders isn’t the song’s only appearance in pop culture, and “Red Right Hand” is often associated with another elusive, black-cloaked figure – Ghostface. The song has featured in three of Wes Craven’s Scream films. In the original, the song’s ominous bells ring out over Woodsboro as the town anticipates its sundown curfew, while it can also be heard during the cinema-set opening of Scream 2. “Red Right Hand” also cropped up in an episode of The X-Files and, most bizarrely, Dumb & Dumber.
“Red Right Hand” remains one of Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds’ most popular songs, and has since been covered by several bands, including as a lighter, up-tempo version by Arctic Monkeys. However, the original is unrivaled for its deeply unsettling and spooky tone, brilliantly conveyed by its mysterious lyrics. It’s difficult to think of better opening credits music to conjure up the alluring and vengeful world of Peaky Blinders.