Intensities in Ten Suburbs

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Take Five: Twin Peaks Tunes

Posted by Andrew Unterberger on April 18, 2007

“Chieeeef Wigguuuum….Dooon’t…eeeeeaaaat…the CLOOOOOZ!!!”

Much thanks to my roommate for buying the second season of “Twin Peaks” on DVD so I didn’t have to myself–worth keeping around for a second viewing, but I doubt I’d go back to it much after that, so the opportunity to save $40 by not buying it is indeed a fortuitous one. The season’s got moments that equal the highs of the first season (especially in the early episodes), which is no small feat, but once the principal mystery is solved, the characters just sorta hover around without much to do, and the little that Lynch does give them is often worse than nothing (James pulling a Body Heat with an unhappily married older woman in another town, Nadine going back to high school with super-strength, Josie and Harry going through one too many “Stay with me!” / “NO I CAN’T!!” exchanges).

Still, if nothing else, you’ve still got that music. One of the key identifying characteristics of just about any Lynch project is his stubborn refusal to acknowledge the last 40 years of cultural advancement–Twin Peaks technically takes place in modern day (I assume, anyway), but offhand there’s not a single piece of evidence I can point to to prove that–the vocabulary, attitudes, atmosphere and of course, the music, are all still stuck in the 50s, or early 60s at best. This can be frustrating in ways (especially when he does it for several consecutive projects), but it does a hell of a job in establishing a cultural disconnect, a feeling of something being not quite right. Plus, the late-50s and early-60s music Lynch tends to deal with is about the best possible soundtrack for cinema as dreamy and spooky as Lynch’s.

Julee Cruise – “Rockin’ Back Inside My Heart: Lynch’s muse for most of “Twin Peaks” was Cruise, who provided much of the soundtrack for the series, as well as at least one song for Blue Velvet, with her tender, childlike voice. “Rockin’ Back Inside My Heart” is my personal favorite of Cruise’s Lynch contributions, as well as the only one she ashowed up to sing in the actual series (at one of the key points of the season no less). It could almost be an early-60s Spectorian girl group ballad, if it was just a little more focused and a little less hypnotic (and didn’t have those bizarre horn intrusions halfway through). In any event, it’s as beautiful and nocturnal as any of the best Shangri-Las stunners.

James Marshall featuring Cheryl Lee & Lara Flynn Boyle – “Just You & I“: A largely unexplained musical number from one of the first episodes in the second season, in which James (Marshall), Maddie (Lee) and Donna (Boyle) recorded a teary love ballad in the vein of Del Shannon or Bobby Vinton. James, who sings lead, is clearly neither of these crooners, singing in a paper-thin squeak that nonetheless somehow manages to make the song more effective–more innocent, more naive. Boyle & Lee don’t do much, but their occasionally chimed-in backing vocals add the necessary haziness for such a Lynch ballad.

MobyGo!“: All right, so this isn’t technically from “Twin Peaks,” but it is based around composer Angelo Badalamenti’s main theme for the series, and shows just how effective and transmutable the score was. Moby even focuses on the score’s best part–the haunting (to say the least) synth moans, puncutated by the exclamation mark of that one pounded low piano chord. You might not hear “Laura Palmer’s Theme” and think “house anthem,” but hey, you’re not a descendent of Herman Melville either, so.

FantomasFire Walk With Me: Having only seen half of the original Fire Walk With Me movie, I can’t vouch one way or the other for the quality of the main theme, but Fantomas does a decent job of putting a metal spin on Lynch and Badalamenti’s normal sound, which actually ends up sounding pretty close to Deftones territory. Fact is that Fantomas (as well as Mr. Bungle and probably parts of Faith No More as well) owe much of their career to the Lynchian vibes they so readily cop, so it’s only fair they should pay tribute every once in a while.

Agent Vyper – “Twin Peaks Theme (Club Mix): In the 90s, everything had to have a lame dance remix, and I guess “Twin Peaks” was no exception. It’s not possible to deny how awkward Agent Vyper’s attempt to turn Julee Cruise’s “Falling” into a club banger, especially when compared to the fluidity of “Go!,” but as an artifact of its time period, it really can not be undervalued. At th every least, you can see where DJ Dado got his inspiration for his slightly-more successful “X-Files” jacking.

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