Singer-songwriter Steve Earle pops up here and there in all five seasons of The Wire. Half way through the first season, he makes the first of several appearances as Walon, a recovering addict and a Narcotics Anonymous mentor and sponsor to one of the series' major characters. At the end of the second season, Earle's song "Feel Alright" is the prominent backdrop for the season-capping montage. (Every season ends with one; the one that closes the season about blue-collar dock workers belongs to Earle.) And in the fifth season, Earle opens every show with a cover of the Tom Waits song "Way Down in the Hole."
But the appearance that makes me smile the most is the one in which Earle's face and voice are nowhere to be seen or heard. It's buried in the tenth episode of the first season, in a familiar bit of dialogue:
Jimmy McNulty: Why New York?
Omar Little: Must be something happening out there, man. Too big a town, know what I mean?
By the way, in case you missed this tweet from Darren Hughes: Alan Sepinwall is writing detailed synopses and analyses of The Wire, episode by episode. They're a great way to revisit the show. Sepinwall is churning up lots of new ideas.