On Saturday, Oct. 13, and Sunday, Oct. 14, the Ace Hotel will host David Lynch’s Festival of Disruption, and it promises to be a fascinating affair that in turn puzzles and thrills, much like the man himself. RZA is providing a live score. Lynch himself will conduct a Q&A, and the likes of Francis Ford Coppola will give talks. Music will come from The Dover Quartet (playing music from Twin Peaks), Dylan Carlson, Justin Johnson, Mercury Rev, Mike Patton & DJ QBert, Richard Reed Parry, Saint Motel (DJ set), Tokimonsta and Vic Mensa. There also will be a soundbath that features Liminal with Jonsi (of Sigur Rós), Alex Somers and Paul Corley.
Much to love there. To celebrate, we’re taking a look at 10 awesome pieces of music from Lynch movies. Frankly, we could have pulled them all from the magnificent Lost Highway soundtrack, but we decided to spread them around a bit more. Let us know if you think we missed anything…
1. David Lynch and Peter Ivers, “In Heaven (Lady in the Radiator Song),” Eraserhead
There’s so much to unpack here. Peter Ivers isn’t necessarily a household name but Muddy Waters once described him as the greatest harp player alive, and he was the host of locally broadcast punk TV show New Wave Theater. Ivers was murdered with a hammer in his L.A. apartment in 1983 and the killer was never found. Weirdly, Harold Ramis was briefly a suspect, but the Ghostbuster had an alibi. Before all that, Ivers had written and provided vocals for this creepy little song for Lynch’s feature debut, the utterly uncomfortable Eraserhead. The song works perfectly, upping the squirm factor on a film that already had plenty.
2. Julee Cruise, “Falling,” Twin Peaks
It’s doubtful that any other musicians are as fundamentally linked to Lynch as Cruise. Introduced to the director by composer Angelo Badalamenti, who had heard her sing in a New York workshop, Cruise first sang the song “Mysteries of Love” on the Blue Velvet soundtrack. But it is this, the main theme from the TV series Twin Peaks, that saw Cruise’s croon elevated. Those simple bass notes, the harmonies — many people remember this song more than the actual show.
3. John Morris, “The Elephant Man Theme”
Composer John Morris and the National Philharmonic Orchestra are responsible for this sweetly disconcerting piece that acts as the main theme to the masterpiece of a movie that starred Anthony Hopkins and John Hurt. Part children’s music box melody, part carnival attraction score, the music couldn’t be more fitting a backdrop to the tragic story of Joseph Merrick (referred to as John in the film).
4. Toto, “Dune — Main Theme”
Just for the mere fact that poppy prog rockers Toto of “Africa” fame worked with musical experimentation overlord Brian Eno on the Dune soundtrack, we had to include something. The film is much maligned, sure. Usually by people who love the book and don’t feel Lynch did it justice. But there’s no arguing with the main theme — an epic, sweeping overture.
5. Bobby Vinton, “Blue Velvet”
Maybe it's a little on the nose to include Bobby Vinton’s 1963 cover of Tony Bennett’s crooner classic, especially when it wasn’t included on the officially released soundtrack to Lynch's Blue Velvet. Still, the song was featured heavily in the movie to great effect, and this version was apparently a huge inspiration to Lynch during production. The sweet song contrasts beautifully with the onscreen actions of Dennis Hopper’s psychotic Frank Booth (a classic Lynch device).
6. Chris Isaak, “Blue Spanish Sky,” Wild at Heart
With Nicolas Cage and Laura Dern on the run from gangsters and Dern’s movie mom, the music is all important, as it is with all road movies. Isaak’s gentle croon works beautifully, and Lynch later directed the video for Isaak's beloved “Wicked Game” single (a song also used in this film).
7. Marilyn Manson, “I Put a Spell on You,” Lost Highway
Nine Inch Nails' Trent Reznor produced this incredible soundtrack for one of Lynch’s most divisive movies, and there are at least six songs on here that could have made the list, including Bowie’s “I’m Deranged,” Lou Reed’s “This Magic Moment,” Smashing Pumpkins’ “Eye,” Rammstein’s “Rammstein” and NIN’s “The Perfect Drug.” But this awesome cover of the Screamin’ Jay Hawkins classic by Mazza is the pick of the bunch. Slowed to the point of a mechanical drawl, Manson’s version is near terrifying.
8. Connie Stevens, “Sixteen Reasons,” Mulholland Drive
There are only a couple of songs in Mulholland Drive, besides longtime Lynch collaborator Angelo Badalamenti’s score; Linda Scott’s version of “I’ve Told Ev’ry Little Star,” and this little gem from actress-director-singer Connie Stevens. The innocence of the song, the purity and clear adoration, again are at odds with the vibe of the movie.
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9. Nina Simone, “Sinnerman,” Inland Empire
The great Nina Simone sounds like a woman possessed as she wails through this incredible song, which closes out the official soundtrack to Inland Empire. Telling the story of Nikki Grace (Laura Dern, a Lynch regular), an actress on the comeback trail, the movie and this song are both hauntingly powerful.
10. Nine Inch Nails, “Came Back Haunted,” video directed by Lynch
Having worked together on the Lost Highway soundtrack, Lynch repaid the favor to Trent Reznor by directing the video for this 2013 song from the Hesitation Marks album. Lynch also has directed videos for X Japan, Moby and Interpol, as well as the aforementioned Chris Isaak.
Get tickets for David Lynch's Festival of Disruption here.