Nearly two decades ago, British music producers Henry Binns and Sam Hardaker formed the music group Zero 7 featuring a small group of alternating vocalists that included Aussie singer Sia Furler. The albums were a critical and commercial success in England, and Sia had new momentum as a solo artist. Still, what truly propelled her solo success was the series finale of Six Feet Under. In the final episode of the acclaimed HBO show that aired on August 21, 2005, Sia’s “Breathe Me” played over a powerful seven-minute collage that showed all the main characters growing old and eventually passing away. Television critics have described the final sequence as arguably the best series finale ever, and several radio stations immediately added “Breathe Me” into rotation.
In a 2015 interview celebrating the 10th anniversary of the final sequence, series creator Alan Ball (who wrote and directed the finale) admitted, “I wrote the scene to fit that song, with that music in mind. I didn’t, like, time out each shot to the song, because you can’t do that. But every shot was pretty specific… We knew what we wanted those seven minutes to be.”
Gary Calamar, the music supervisor for the show, added, “I had been playing it on my radio show for a while—I’m a radio DJ in Los Angeles, at KCRW. It never really became a hit, obviously, but I played it on my nighttime show often. Thomas [Golubic, the co-music-supervisor] and I went to see [Sia] play at the Hotel Café here in town, soon after the whole thing hit, and from the stage, she goes, ‘I understand Gary and Thomas are in the audience tonight… I’ll have to give those guys a blow job.’ I think she knows it was her big break. I’ve been praised for it throughout my career since then, too: ‘Oh, that was the best use of a song on a TV show!’ I jokingly say I’m going to have it playing out of my tombstone when I’m dead.”
The song finally broke big nearly two years after it debuted on Sia’s Colour the Small One, which motivated the record company to re-release the album in January 2006 with bonus tracks, which included this “Breathe Me” remix by British electronic artist Kieran Hebden, better known as Four Tet.