“I see a red door and I want it painted black. No colors anymore, I want them to turn black ”says the first verse of the Rolling Stones single “Paint It Black”. Lines that couldn't explain the story of Lincoln Clay better. The rock song with the idiosyncratic melody and the dark-eyed lyrics is today often associated with the Vietnam War due to its use in films such as Full Metal Jacket or series such as NAM - Dienst in Vietnam. Together with 100 other selected songs by well-known artists such as The Animals, The Beach Boys, Johnny Cash, Sam Cooke or Otis Spann, “Paint it Black” forms the soundtrack to Mafia III.
Even the predecessors of the third Mafia game succeeded in harmonizing images and music and kidnapping us into authentic worlds. The soundtrack of the first part of the Mafia series, consisting mainly of classical jazz, is largely composed by the guitarist Django Reinhardt and fits almost perfectly between the fedoras, pinstripe suits and tommy-guns of the Salieris and Morellos. The story of Mafia II, on the other hand, is set in the 1940s and 50s. The songs of Bing Crosby, Buddy Holly and the Andrew Sisters can be heard from the car speakers of the protagonist Vito Scaletta. Here, too, the musical design makes a no less important contribution to the gangster atmosphere of the game. Mafia III continues the tradition of its predecessors, but this time the tone is different. It's wilder, more pulsating, more rebellious.
From classic rock, soul and blues to classic Zydeco music from the southern states, Mafia III is set in the late 1960s; the individual pieces of the action adventure cover the broad musical spectrum of this era and transfer its time color to the game world: The powerful soul songs of black artists such as Aretha Franklin (“Respect”) or James Brown (“I Got You (I Feel Good "), For example, who accompany Lincoln Clay on his journey, originated at a time when racism was the order of the day in the United States and the Civil Rights Movement was fighting for equal rights for black people. The soul of the 1960s combines traditional, out Gospel elements from the south with lively rhythm'n'blues sounds; the growing self-confidence of the Afro-American population resonates both in the music and in the lyrics. Aretha Franklin's “Respect” has always been a manifesto of the black liberation struggle.
Energetic soul hymns as an expression of the social upheaval, crackling rock songs that exude a romantic road trip vibe, and the many other pieces of the Mafia III soundtrack not only help to capture the zeitgeist of the 1960s and thus the atmosphere and add credibility to the game world. They also let us players dive deeper into it.
Lincoln Clay, the protagonist of Mafia III, stumbled into the New Bordeaux underground in 1968 after his return from the Vietnam War. The city in the southern United States is a fictional version of New Orleans and the setting for action adventure games. The place literally vibrates with its lively nightlife, which invites you to extravagant parties evening after evening, and unites people of different origins who turn those parties into a cult potpourri. Residents from America, France, Ireland, Haiti or Africa cavort in the ten districts, from French Ward, the center of casual entertainment, to Bayou Fantom, the swampy outskirts of New Bordeaux. But as colorful as the hustle and bustle on the surface is, it is dark and ominous underneath: Organized crime, corruption or racially motivated violence are also part of the city, which is both a melting pot of cultures and a reservoir for iniquity.
On its own, however, New Bordeaux merely forms the framework of Mafia III. The city functions as a body that in itself cannot achieve much. And this is where the music comes in. It breathes life into the body. It is part of the mind, its unmistakable personality.
When Lincoln Clay makes his way through the green, musty swamps of Bayou Fantom to Cleerence Clearwater's “Green River” or when he drives through the brightly shining streets of French Ward in a muscle car to “Paint it Black”, then it is the harmonious interplay between the music and the respective backdrop of the location, which allows us to fully participate in the action. Only the symbiosis of the soundtrack and New Bordeaux draws us almost magnetically into a world that is colorful and varied but at the same time threatens to get out of joint due to the social turmoil.
You can listen to the soundtrack of Mafia III in this Spotify playlist.