Irishman composer Robbie Robertson sat down for a few recent interviews, and the ones I’ve read have all reported that he’s created a “non-traditional” score. Well, yeah — that’s one way to put it.

A franker description is that most of Robertson’s “score” wasn’t composed but curated, at least according to the 20-track soundtrack album. 19 out of 20 cuts are dusty ’50s standards and odd curios (“Still of the Night”, “I Hear You Knockin'”, etc.).

So what did Robertson actually compose? A single, stand-alone track called “The Theme for The Irishman“, lasting 4:36.

But what a composition! “The Theme for The Irishman” is a dirge of resignation, a death march — a drums, harmonica and cello thing that kicks in during the final half-hour or so, a downish anthem in Frank Sheeran‘s head…music to be played and played on the way to the grave.

If you’ve seen The Irishman, you know what I’m on about. As you watch Sheeran and Russell Buffalino and “Fat Tony” Salerno get older and sicker, Robertson’s music says over and over “this is it, man…karma is a bitch and nobody gets out of life alive…no salvation or cure.”

I tried to record it off the film itself, but I couldn’t find a passage that didn’t have Sheeran’s (Robert De Niro‘s) narration.