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
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.
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.”
Taking their cue from The Clovers, a Cleveland-based doo-wop group, The Moonglows, recorded one of my favorite versions in 1957.
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.
And three other notable versions:
- 1964: Pop country singer, Brenda Lee (of “Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree”).
Brenda Lee, “Blue Velvet”
- 1978: Willis Jackson with Pat Martino. One of surprisingly few jazz renditions of the song.
Willis Jackson & Pat Martino, “Blue Velvet”
- 2009: Thomas Truax. This one’s a little tongue-in-cheek, off of Songs from the Films of David Lynch.
Thomas Truax, “Blue Velvet” [Buy]
And of course: