Tag Archives: Angelo Badalamenti

The Voice From Another Place: Jimmy Scott and the Black Lodge

In honor of David Lynch’s release on vinyl of his single “Good Day Today” (and our love of all things Lynch), Noise Narcs is posting on the music of, for, and about David Lynch this week. See our intro post (and claim of Lynch as a Philadelphian) here, and see the rest of the DLW posts here.

Cooper enters the LodgeWhen Special Agent Dale Cooper enters the Waiting Room of the Black Lodge in the final episode of “Twin Peaks,” he is greeted by two mysterious figures. One we, and Cooper, have met before, in Cooper’s dreams. He is the Man from Another Place, the backward-talking, shuffling, dancing dwarf who acts as a sort of demented guide to the mythological realm of the Lodges. The other is a face new to Cooper, and probably to most viewers as well. It belongs to Little Jimmy Scott, “perhaps the most unjustly ignored American singer of the 20th century,” according to a New York Times Magazine profile from 2000.

If someone knows anything about Scott, it’s that he has an impossibly high voice due to a rare genetic condition, Kallmann’s syndrome, that prevented him from reaching puberty. But dig a little deeper and you’ll find a talent regarded as a singer’s singer, someone who has worked with luminaries like Lionel Hampton, Charlie Parker, and Ray Charles, to name a few.

Jimmy Scott, “They Say It’s Wonderful” [Buy Falling in Love is Wonderful]

In episode 2 of “Twin Peaks,” the Man from Another Place tells Cooper, “Where we’re from, the birds sing a pretty song and there’s always music in the air.” From what we can tell, that air, like most of the air in Twin Peaks — the town and the show — is filled with the sounds of Angelo Badalamenti. And sometimes, Jimmy Scott.

In the final episode of the series, Cooper, with the help of Sheriff Harry S. Truman and Pete “fish in the percolator” Martell, figures out how to enter the Black Lodge — via Glastonbury Grove, a circle of 12 sycamore trees in Ghostwood Forest. (Note the circle of 12 candles in Cooper’s dream.)

Cooper enters the grove, parts the red curtains and enters the Lodge. We immediately hear Jimmy Scott’s voice accompanied by synthesizer and bass. Cooper walks down the hall and into the next room. What follows is the most amazing two minutes of scripted television ever.

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Song to Angelo: The Almost Badalamenti-less Career of David Lynch

In honor of David Lynch’s release on vinyl of his single “Good Day Today” (and our love of all things Lynch), Noise Narcs is posting on the music of, for, and about David Lynch this week. See our intro post (and claim of Lynch as a Philadelphian) here, and see the rest of the DLW posts here.

Of all the signposts of Lynch’s oeuvre, perhaps the most recognizable is the soundtrack work of composer Angelo Badalamenti. A combination of melodramatic vamp, seedy jazz, and atmospheric menace, his work on Lynch’s major films and television since Blue Velvet (absent only for the recent Inland Empire) is breathtaking, one of the all time great director/composer collaborations. But it’s also a collaboration that almost never happened.

Although Badalamenti had done some relatively obscure composition work (for Gordon’s War and Law and Disorder), his initial role on Blue Velvet was only as Isabella Rossellini’s singing coach for the movie’s rendition of “Blue Velvet.” Lynch also planned on having Rossellini sing Tim Buckley’s “Song to a Siren.” But, depending on whom you ask, Lynch either failed to secure the rights for “Siren” or couldn’t find the room in his budget. Needing a similar song of longing love, Lynch decided to write the lyrics for “Mysteries of Love” himself. And turned to Badalamenti to write the music. The rest is film history.

Tim Buckley, “Song to the Siren”
Julie Cruise, “Mysteries Of Love”

But Lynch wasn’t done with “Siren”; he used This Mortal Coil’s version for a love scene in Lost Highway. Speaking of Lost Highway, if you haven’t read David Foster Wallace’s brilliant essay on the making of the film, get on “David Lynch Keeps His Head” stat. And, this little tidbit about OJ Simpson from Lynch’s book, Catching the Big Fish: Meditation, Consciousness, and Creativity [via Scanners] will melt everything you thought you knew about LH:

At the time Barry Gifford and I were writing the script for “Lost Highway,” I was sort of obsessed with the O.J. Simpson trial. Barry and I never talked about it this way, but I think the film is somehow related to that.

What struck me about O.J. Simpson was that he was able to smile and laugh. He was able to go golfing with seemingly very few problems about the whole thing. I wondered how, if a person did these deeds, he could go on living. And we found this great psychology term — “psychogenic fugue” — describing an event where the mind tricks itself to escape some horror. So, in a way, “Lost Highway” is about that. And the fact that nothing can stay hidden forever.

This Mortal Coil, “Song to the Siren”

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