Tag Archives: David Lynch

The Day David Lynch Didn’t Have to Use His AK

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.

Order Good Day Today / I Know (plus remixes) at http://GoodDayToday.info

During David Lynch Week, we’ve discussed how Mr. Lynch has impeccable taste in musical collaborators and popular songs, inspires freestyles, and is even a formidable songwriter in his own right. So it should have come as no surprise that when Lynch released music, first on the Sparklehorse/Danger Mouse Dark Night disc and now under his own name, that it’d great. But even so, I was taken aback.

The two singles Lynch released on vinyl and CD this week, “Good Day Today” and “I Know” are far, far too good for the work of a director. Woody Allen is certainly a very good clarinetist, but he’s far from the vanguard*: he’s just good for a director. Lynch’s music, however, is just plain good. “I Know” pulls a neat trick: a solid impression of a late-Dylan blues barnstormer played drafting through the Black Lodge.

David Lynch, “I Know” [Buy]

But “Good Day Today” is the killer track. Fully on-point electro-pop, pulsing and vocoded. Amid menace, a plea for solace. Transcendental meditation meets the machine. And the floating repetition of the synth drives you through it all.

David Lynch , “Good Day Today”

But, wait? What the fuck were those gunshots at the two minute mark? A song. Involving guns. About having a good day. That can mean only one thing. A brilliant director. A great songwriter. An accomplished electropophead. And to beat it all, the man’s an Ice Cube fan?

Ice Cube, “Today Was a Good Day” [Buy]

Mr. Lynch, your surprises never stop: you’re welcome to come back to Philly any time. We’ll promise you a good day: no break-ins, no murders. And to the rest of you, thanks for enduring our Lynch obsession this week. Take a Lynchian hint, and have a good weekend this weekend. And for the heck of it, the one Joanna Newsom song that I can stand also happens to be about a good day. No guns, though.

Joanna Newsom, “On a Good Day” [Buy]

* But he was at the Village Vanguard, where he performed some of his early stand-up.

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That Asian Chick, What Was Her Name

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.

Given the luminously high quality of the David Lynch posts so far*, I figured it was about time for me to come in and lower Lynch Week’s overall average by at least 2.0 standard deviations.

I wanted to write something on Lynch’s use of popular music, but gave it up when I realized I’ve only seen Twin Peaks and about two and half Lynch films, and I didn’t feel like going on and on about obvious moments of genius like “In Dreams” and “Sixteen Reasons” alone. Even if they are, perhaps, two of the all-time greatest uses of early ’60s pop in entertainment history (“Mad Men,” eat your heart out).

No. Instead, I decided to post my friend Pete “Sugglife” Sugg’s 90-second “Twin Peaks” freestyle.  This was delivered at an after-the-wedding party on a back porch in Hood River, OR, and Sugglife, I promise you, had absolutely zero advance notice of his freestyle topic.  It doesn’t have MC Chris’s sweet Badalamenti sample, but it’s still a pretty awesome party trick. Enjoy:

Sugglife: Twin Peaks Freestyle from Matt Karp on Vimeo.

* Is there anything more insufferable than a group blog filled with posts praising the other group bloggers’ entries?  Dave, don’t feel bad, your latest concert review was also luminous.

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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.

Continue reading “The Voice From Another Place: Jimmy Scott and the Black Lodge” »

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Noise Variations: “Blue Velvet” through the Years

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.

Few directors capture so well the menacing strangeness of America’s small towns and suburbs as David Lynch.  Twin Peaks gave this theme its full, soap-opera-length treatment, but Lynch had already begun to probe the heartland of darkness in earnest five years earlier with the masterful Blue Velvet (1986).

In the picket-fence town of Lumberton, U.S.A., young Jeffrey Beaumont (Kyle MacLachlan) is drawn like a reverse moth into an Oedipal nightmare of violence and sexual desire.  The film’s central image, its titular fetish, is a blue velvet stuff gag.

She wore blue velvet
Bluer than velvet was the night
Softer than satin was the light
From the stars
She wore blue velvet
Bluer than velvet were her eyes
Warmer than May her tender sighs
Love was ours
Ours a love I held tightly
Feeling the rapture grow
Like a flame burning brightly
But when she left, gone was the glow of
Blue velvet
But in my heart there’ll always be
Precious and warm, a memory
Through the years
And I still can see blue velvet
Through my tears

Tony Bennett was the first to have an early hit with the Bernie Wayne and Lee Morris penned pop song in 1951, a million years ago.  Soaring strings complement his crooning style.

Tony Bennett, “Blue Velvet”

In 1955, a D.C. doo-wop outfit, The Clovers, recorded their version of the song.  The Clovers would eventually be best known for their 1959 hit, “Love Potion #9.”

The Clovers, “Blue Velvet”

Taking their cue from The Clovers, a Cleveland-based doo-wop group, The Moonglows, recorded one of my favorite versions in 1957.

The Moonglows, “Blue Velvet”

Then, in 1963, the “Polish Prince,” Bobby Vinton conceived of Blue on Blue, an entire album of songs with the word “Blue” in the title.  “Blue Skies,” “Blue Hawaii,” “Blueberry Hill,” “My Blue Heaven,” etc.  This is inarguably the most famous rendition of “Blue Velvet,” hitting number 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 and staying there for three weeks.  It is also the version that opens Lynch’s film.

Bobby Vinton, “Blue Velvet”

And three other notable versions:

And of course:

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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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Announcing David Lynch Week


A couple of months ago, several of the Narcs realized that we’d posted quite a few David Lynch-related posts. When we learned that David Lynch would be releasing two singles on Feb 1, it only made sense to do one thing: turn Noise Narcs into David Lynch central. Between Jan 31st and February 4th, we’ll be posting (almost) exclusively on David Lynch.

A Philadelphia-based blog devoting a week to David Lynch isn’t as random as it may first appear. In the mid-1960s, Lynch attended Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts. It was in our fair city, with the creation of two experimental animated shorts (“Six Men Getting Sick” and “The Alphabet”), that Lynch began his film career.

Lynch’s experience with the city wasn’t, shall we say, entirely positive:

The house I moved into was across the street from the morgue, next door to Pop’s Diner. The area had a great mood – factories, smoke, railroads, diners, the strangest characters, the darkest nights. The people had stories etched in their faces, and I saw vivid images-plastic curtains held together with Band-Aids, rags stuffed in broken windows, walking through the morgue en-route to a hamburger joint.

We lived cheap, but the city was full of fear. A kid was shot to death down the street, and the chalk marks around where he’d lain stayed on the sidewalk for five days. We were robbed twice, had windows shot out and a car stolen. [The City of Absurdity]

Thank God Lynch didn’t live in Philly during its current cultural revival because his crime-plagued stay in the city of brotherly love was a formative experience in the creation of his masterful debut, Eraserhood. In a move symbolic of Philadelphia’s troubled struggle with history and rebirth, the neighborhood that Lynch lived in (his apartment was at 13th and Wood) was blandly rechristened “the loft district.” But Philadelphians are both too clever and resistant to PR speak for that. A movement has started to rename the area, paying tribute to Lynch and his first film: Eraserhood. Check out the neighborhood’s Facebook page and check back next week for a truckload of David Lynch goodness.

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Of Death and David Lynch

(I think I promised David that my first post would be a close reading of Usher’s “Confessions pt. II”, maybe subjoined to an exegesis of Akon’s “Birthmark,” but that’s going to have to wait).

Given this blog’s voracious appetite for all things Lynchian, I’m surprised that nobody has had anything to say about the Vancouver band You Say Party! We Say Die!, whose 2009 release, XXXX, was headlined by a single called “Laura Palmer’s Prom.”  Sadly, the lyrics don’t name-drop Audrey Horne or Leo Johnson or Nadine, or do anything quite so satisfyingly specific within the Twin Peaks theme.  But really, they don’t need to.  The fabulously moody, synth-swollen atmosphere captures everything dark and steamy and desperate in Lynch-world, and ties it up with a thumping, irresistibly catchy bow.

Pitchfork seems to want to compare singer Becky Ninkovic and the band to the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, or Siouxie and the Banshees, but really, I think they sound more like peak-era New Order (think “Temptation”, “Age of Consent”, etc) than any male-voiced contemporary band that I can recall.  Maybe to you that makes them derivative, but to me it makes them divine.

The tragic postscript here — more gruesomely Lynchian than ever — is that just this April, the band’s drummer, Devon Clifford, collapsed onstage at a show in Vancouver, and died two days later of a brain hemorrhage.  The band is soldiering on, minus another member who quit, under the shortened name ‘You Say Party.’   From what I’ve heard of them — just “Laura Palmer’s Prom” and a few other similarly synthy tunes on their Myspace page, I hope they stay together, not just because it’s the only decent thing to hope for, but because they’re making some pretty terrific music.

You can buy XXXX here, in digital, CD, or LP format.

You Say Party! We Say Die!, “Laura Palmer’s Prom”

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a damp drizzly november in my soul

or in Danger Mouse (aka Brian Burton/Broken Bells/1/2 Gnarls Barkley), Sparklehorse, and David Lynch’s souls.

The trio and then some collaborated on an album titled Dark Night of My Soul, which was finally properly released a couple of days ago after being held up due to a legal dispute between Burton and  EMI. The album is aptly titled, when we consider that both Sparklehorse’s Mark Linkous and Vic Chesnutt, who is featured on a track, both committed suicide this past year.

Burton asked David Lynch (who is also featured on one track) to contribute still photographs to the project (see above), and so he did, and they are on display in Michael Kohn’s Los Angeles gallery, where the album plays on repeat.

The album is, like most of Brian Burton’s work, compelling, not just sonically and lyrically (not suprising considering Linkous and Burton’s oeuvre), but in terms of the contributors they enlisted: Iggy Pop, Suzanne Vega, Vic Chesnutt, Gruff Rhys, Frank Black, Nina Persson, etc.

I’m going to shut up and not describe this album, which I am mildly obsessed with, because you have to just listen yourself. Here’s my fave so far.

You can learn more and buy the album through its website.

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Pie’s So Good, It Is a Crime

If there’s on thing we at Noise Narcs like, it’s Twin Peaks. If there’s one thing we’re pretty indifferent to, it’s novelty rap. Therefore, without comment:

[Via Videogum]

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Of Soundtracks and Pittsburgh Musicians, and Pittsburgh Musicians and Soundtracks

As the overly-long title might suggest (if it weren’t so confusing), this post is really two things. Firstly, it functions as a minor plug for a minor film in which I played a minor role this past spring. Born of a challenge posed amongst filmmakers on Twitter to make a feature-length movie in just two weeks, Blanc de Blanc is Pittsburgh’s entry into #2wkfilm, churned out by my friend Lucas McNelly—whose previous film, Gravida, finished a narrow second (to a short starring The Office‘s Rainn Wilson) in the inaugural Now! Film Festival, presented by MySpace. It is also the thing that caused me—hurried as the shooting schedule was—to leave a visiting David Goldfarb alone in my apartment to fend (nap) for himself on a Saturday afternoon, after a hearty breakfast at the Obamas’ favorite Pittsburgh haunt, Pamela’s.

Anyway, the soundtrack to Blanc de Blanc was supplied by a guy named Jerome Wincek who, I’m told, lives way out in Oil City, PA (look it up) and crafts his songs around such things as the sounds of doors slamming and his young daughter banging on pots and pans. (After all, what else is there to inspire in Oil City?) The track I’ve posted here is, in my opinion, the standout within the context of film, but it also noticeably bucks the theme of primarily-instrumental electronic music built around loops of found and ambient sounds, of which the majority of the soundtrack is comprised. Where most of the music pulls a Mike Doughty1-sort of aesthetic (when there’s lyrics at all) into the worlds of glitch and video game music, this track features a distinct Jeff Magnum influence tugging right back.

Jerome Wincek & the Old Hats, “Awake with the Sun”

Secondly, this post is a bit of a prelude (a “teaser,” the kids now say) to the “Where You’re From” post I’ve been planning for some time that should also end up being Noise Narcs’ first exclusive: a leak of tracks from the upcoming album from my friends in Signal to the Ocean Estate. If you recall, Signal’s debut, Tunes for the Bird of Chittenden, was one of my top ten albums of 2009. When making that album, they secured, via a fingers-crossed email to David Lynch’s personal assistant, approval to include on it (royalty-free) this take on Lynch’s composition “In Heaven” from Eraserhead. (Also, this sort of extends the bizarre parallels between some of Chris’s posts and mine.)

Signal to the Ocean Estate, “In Heaven”

And just for fun, I also decided to share the following track (also from Signal’s debut), which—within the spectrum of political songs—fits nicely between “Back in the USSR” and “Fight for Your Right (To Party!).” Most of you will hate it, but I love it.

Signal to the Ocean Estate, “Tribute to the Capital” (sic?)

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1 The man behind Soul Coughing; not to be confused with “Surgical Mike” Dougherty, the man behind Dramatic Oil Company’s inoperable funkiness.

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