The show the story of a New Yorker who attends a party one night and gets trapped in a time loop that always ends in her death and restarts with her reviving in the bathroom of said party; every time Nadia dies and is resurrected, we hear “Gotta Get Up,” Harry Nilsson’s song from the 1971 album Nilsson Schmilsson. It becomes a comfortable rhythm, a gentle announcement that things still haven’t quite changed, but that there are still new beginnings.
As Lyonne told Refinery29, they tested many “resurrection” songs, spanning artists like Lou Reed and Roxy Music, but she kept coming back to Nilsson’s tune, which has a playful melody that masked the singer’s inner-demons.
“Really, Harry Nilsson for me has been a lynchpin figure as a lineage to someone who knocked on death’s door and, in his case, didn’t make it,” Lyonne said. Nilsson, a prolific songwriter who worked closely with the Beatles, died of a heart attack at age 52 after a life of heavy drug and alcohol abuse. Lyonne herself kicked serious drug addiction in her 20s, which also led to heart problems; she underwent open-heart surgery in the early 2000s to correct damage caused from her excesses.
That makes the use of “Gotta Get Up” an especially poignant one. But it isn’t the only song that gives Russian Doll its unique edge. The series is a brilliant, hear-wrenching meditation on topics like mental illness, addiction, and endless cycle of self-destruction, and the entire soundtrack is loaded with gems reflecting its themes. The track list includes jams from John Maus, the Echocentrics, Cults, Pussy Riot, and more. Now, thanks to Spotify, you can listen to them all in one place with this official Russian Doll playlist.
Load it up, crank up the volume, and listen along to relive the perfect alchemy that is this beautiful, special show.