[Music Ed.'s Note: Check out also our exclusive interview with David Lynch about his music and our interview with renowned UK designer Vaughan Oliver (of 4D fame) about his work on Lynch's “Good Day Today”/”I Know” single.]
OST, Eraserhead (1976): Factories, concrete, noises, existential dread mixed with surreal humor. All the “Lynchian” tropes are already here on his first feature film soundtrack. Lynch-heads the Pixies made “In Heaven” gigantic.
Essential track: “In Heaven” (aka “Lady in the Radiator Song”)
OST, Blue Velvet (1985): Roy Orbison initially freaked out when he realized that Lynch had dug deep into the creepy subtexts of his “In Dreams,” then became a fan. And in Angelo Badalamenti, Lynch finally found his own Nino Rota.
Essential track: “Mysteries of Love”
Julee Cruise, Floating Into the Night (1989): Lynch and Badalamenti produced a whole album of material for Twin Peaks chanteuse Cruise. The signature “Lynch sound” for casual fans. The Voice of Love (1993) is a darker sequel.
Essential track: “Into the Night”
OST, Twin Peaks, Season One Music (1989): TV soundtracks had never sounded this textured (and they rarely have since). A timeless classic that still makes people look up when deployed, even on the dance floor (ask Moby).
Essential track: “Twin Peaks Theme”
OST, Twin Peaks, Season Two Music (recorded 1990, released 2007): The lost second volume of the cult series' soundtrack finally came out a few years ago without much fanfare. A must for fans of the Lynch/Badalamenti combo, and yes, it does include James' doo-woppy threesome with Donna and Maddy.
Essential track: “Just You”
OST, Wild at Heart (1990): This is where Lynch found his secret bluesman, guided — like many white kids of his generation — by the hand of Elvis (inhabiting the body of Nicolas Cage). It made Chris Isaak a very rich man, too.
Essential track: “Up in Flames,” by Koko Taylor
OST, Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me (1992): Way, way, way darker riff on the miniseries, and with a soundtrack to match. Never mind the Zappas, this is “jazz from hell.”
Essential track: “Sycamore Trees,” by Jimmy Scott
David Lynch Presents Fox Bat Strategies: A Tribute to Dave Jaurequi (recorded 1994, released 2009): A real obscurity. Lynch gathered musicians from the Fire Walk With Me sessions for an evening of roadhouse blues.
Essential track: “The Go Down”
Jocelyn Montgomery, Lux Vivens (1998): Few people think “medieval nuns” when they think of David Lynch, but this collaboration with crystalline vocalist Jocelyn Montgomery happily marries the tunes of Hildegard von Bingen with the elemental sounds familiar to his fans.
Essential track: “Battle and Aftermath”
OST, Mulholland Drive (2001): A Roy Orbison cover in Spanish (“Llorando”) is the most memorable moment of both movie and soundtrack, but Lynch and collaborator John Neff supplement the Badalamenti score with a few more extreme pieces.
Essential track: “Go Get Some”
Blue Bob, Blue Bob (2001): The full-length album by the Lynch/Neff project. A kind of 21st-century rockabilly with heavy vocal effects that showed the way for more Asymmetrical music in the 2000s.
Essential track: “Blue Horse”
OST, Inland Empire (2006): Lynch takes over scoring duties from Badalamenti in this deeply personal project, shot 100 percent on his own terms. This is the beginning of his “Polish phase” and it includes the haunting Lynch vocal “Ghost of Love.”
Essential track: “Polish Poem”
David Lynch, “Ghost of Love” single (2007): This rare single includes killer B-side “Imaginary Girl,” Lynch's own version of “I Put a Spell on You,” where this Jimmy Scott fan gets his androgynous torch singer on.
Essential track: “Imaginary Girl”
David Lynch & Marek Zebrowski, Polish Night Music, and David Lynch & Dean Hurley, The Air Is on Fire (Exhibition Soundscape) (both 2007): Ambient/mood-music collaborations for the Inland Empire sessions and Lynch's visual-art exhibitions, respectively. The logical progression from the industrial aesthetics of the Eraserhead soundtrack.
Danger Mouse & Sparklehorse, Dark Night of the Soul (2009): Lynch was the visual collaborator on this star-crossed project between hit producer/mash-up artist Danger Mouse and the late Sparklehorse, but he also lent his crooning to the title track.
Essential track: “Dark Night of the Soul”
“Good Day Today” b/w “I Know” single 2010-2011): A dance (yes, dance) track coupled with what Lynch likes to call “a modern blues.” With edits and several high-profile remixes (including one by current Brian Eno darling Jon Hopkins) the single will be expanded into a 10-track release on Jan. 31 that can be played as a full album of diverse textures within the increasingly expanding Lynch soundscape of 2011. Get the vinyl version to enjoy the perfect packaging designed by 4AD's guru Vaughan Oliver (see sidebar).
The revamped website davidlynch.com promises the release of the mysterious Thought Gang project, a whole album by “Polish Poem” siren Chrysta Bell, an unissued track by Jocelyn West Montgomery (“And Still”), more Polish Night Music, tracks by L.A. indie artist Ariana Delawari and her band Lion of Panjshir, and further experiments from Lynch and Hurley at Asymmetrical Studio, including their still-unfinished album.