A Guide to 10 Must-Hear Songs from the Soundtrack to the TV Series ‘The Bear’

The Bear follows chef Carmen “Carmy” Berzatto (played by Jeremy Allen White) from elite kitchens in New York City back to Chicago to run (and hopefully save) his late brother’s failing sandwich shop.

Videos by American Songwriter

Carmy must overcome his family’s tumult, an unruly kitchen staff, and Chicago’s changing business landscape. Christopher Storer created the television series for Hulu. Meanwhile, Storer and executive producer Josh Senior are responsible for television’s best dad-rock soundtrack.

Below is a list of The Bear’s musical highlights from the first two seasons, including a brief scene guide where each song appears.

Season 2

5. “Handshake Drugs” by Wilco (Season 2, Episode 1 “Beef”)

“Handshake Drugs” by Chicago’s Wilco is heard during the restaurant’s renovation. In the scene, Sugar (Abby Elliott) tells Carmy that he must settle all debts with the I.R.S. before obtaining a new business license.

Saxophones started blowing me down

I was buried in sound
Taxicabs were driving me around

To the handshake drugs I bought downtown

4. “Transcendental Blues” by Steve Earle (Season 2, Episode 1 “Beef”)

Steve Earle’s “Transcendental Blues” is heard while Richie (Ebon Moss-Bachrach) repairs Mikey’s (Jon Bernthal) office poster of Fenway Park.

In the darkest hour of the longest night
If it was in my power, I’d step into the light
Candles on the altar, penny in your shoe
Walk upon the water—transcendental blues

3. “Strange Currencies” by R.E.M. (Season 2, Episode 2 “Pasta”)

R.E.M.’s classic from Monster plays while Carmy reconnects with Claire (Molly Gordon). “Strange Currencies” is also heard over the episode’s closing credits. Michael Stipe and company return for Episode 5 when Carmy invites Claire to visit the restaurant. When they enter, Sugar and Richie are fighting. The song returns during Episode 9 while Carmy panics as the restaurant’s opening approaches.

I don’t know why you’re mean to me
When I call on the telephone
And I don’t know what you mean to me
But I want to turn you on
Turn you up, figure you out
I want to take you on

2. “B——s of Young” by The Replacements (Season 2, Episode 5 “Pop”)

The Replacements’ youth anthem from Tim plays as Carmy and Richie plot the new kitchen. They are also timing the flow of operations for “maximum efficiency.”

God, what a mess on the ladder of success
Where you take one step and miss the whole first rung
Dreams unfulfilled, graduate unskilled
It beats pickin’ cotton and waitin’ to be forgotten

1. “Tonight Tonight” by The Smashing Pumpkins (Season 2, Episode 5 “Pop”)

As Tina (Liza Colón-Zayas) enters a bar, a karaoke singer performs “Tonight Tonight” by one of Chicago’s most famous exports, The Smashing Pumpkins.

Time is never time at all
You can never ever leave
Without leaving a piece of youth

Season 1

5. “Via Chicago” by Wilco (Season 1, Episode 1 “System”)

Sugar leaves a denim jacket for Carmy to trade for meat. He’s been distant from her, and they talk about his time in Chicago after moving back from New York City.

I printed my name on the back of a leaf
And I watched it float away
The hope I had in a notebook full of white, dry pages
Was all I tried to save

4. “Animal” by Pearl Jam (Season 1, Episode 1 “System”)

Pearl Jam’s “Animal” plays over the closing credits. However, Stone Gossard’s compelling guitar riff also rips through the Season 2 finale as Sydney (Ayo Edebiri) says, “Drive,” and Richie starts the timer. There’s a reason Eddie Vedder frequents many Cubs games—he was born in Evanston, Illinois.

Why would you want to hurt me? Oh
So frightened of your pain

3. “Call the Police” by LCD Soundsystem (Season 1, Episode 6 “Ceres”)

During the opening scene, Mikey and Richie share a story about meeting Bill Murray at a bar while LCD Soundsystem’s “Call the Police” is heard.

It moves like a virus and enters our skin
The first sign divides us. The second is moving to Berlin
But that’s not the state I’m in

2. “Impossible Germany” by Wilco (Season 1, Episode 5 “Sheridan”)

Unsurprisingly, Chicago’s Wilco appears many times in The Bear. “Impossible Germany” is heard while Carmy deveins shrimp and talks with Sydney. The song features Nels Cline’s signature guitar solo.

Fundamental problem
All need to face
This is important
But I know you’re not listening
Oh, I know you’re not listening

1. “Chicago” by Sufjan Stevens (Season 1, Episode 7 “Review”)

Sufjan Stevens’s baroque folk song from his 2005 album “Illinois” is heard over the opening credits. The dance musical for “Illinois” debuts April 24 on Broadway.

You came to take us
All things go, all things go
To recreate us
All things grow, all things grow

When you purchase through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission.

Photo by Amy Sussman/Getty Images

Leave a Reply

Ranking the 5 Best Album-Opening Songs on Beatles Albums