Since its July 11 streaming premiere, the Netflix original series Orange Is the New Black has captivated audiences by its imaginative depiction of female prison life, as well as its original theme song by Regina Spektor.
Spektor’s theme song “You’ve Got Time”, was written exclusively for Jenji Kohan, the show’s creator who was also behind Weeds. The two have collaborated during Weeds when Spektor covered the Weeds‘ theme song “Little Boxes, as well as providing few other tracks for the show. The OITNB theme song was Spektor’s first effort at writing a theme song from scratch, according to Rolling Stone.
In a phone interview with Rolling Stone, Spektor said Kohan approached her to write the song. “When she [Kohan] said she wanted to meet and talk about this new show that she was writing, I was very excited because I really love her work. I think she’s a hilarious and a super-bright, really great person.” Spektor could also cherish Kohan respect for her songwriting process. “She sort of gave me [an attitude] like, ‘If it works, it works, and if it doesn’t, don’t worry, because I know you write songs when you write songs and you’re not a machine. So just do it if you can.'”
After Kohan described the narratives in the show and sent rough, unfinished episodes to Spektor, she was able to finish the song through seeing the characters within the world of the show. She recorded the song in Los Angeles during the winter and was apprehensive about bringing it to Kohan, fearing her reaction.
“She was listening on headphones,” Spektor recalls, “and then she just turned to me: ‘This kicks ass! I love it! This is awesome! This is perfect.’ She played it to the title sequence and then I saw the photos of all the prisoners and it just made sense. I was like, whoa, this really fits.” The dichotomy of drive and softness of the song plays into the show’s display of harsh prison life and themes of hope, redemption and forgiveness.
“I feel really, really glad because it’s such a great show and such a cool look – obviously a fantastical look – but a really great look at the whole prison system and the interaction and the human connection between the people in that environment,” Spektor says. “It’s one of those things where you see something that’s really great and you’re like, ‘I hope everybody else likes it, too.’ There’s so many great things that sort of don’t get the attention that they deserve, but this one is getting a lot of love, so that makes me happy,” Spektor said.