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The Musical Relevance of Twin Peaks

David Lynch delivered the pinnacle of creativity

Mark Frost and David Lynch have returned to the quiet, podunk town, high up in the mountains of Washington State, to breathe new life into their 1990’s psychological drama, Twin Peaks, after it has been off the air for nearly 25 years. This, of course, also means “the return” of the show’s long-time composer, Angelo Badalamenti, who has crafted the score to this limited series event.

twin-peaks-original-soundtrack-disk-1-music-from-the-limited-event-series-447_670The show, itself, has become considered a cult classic, after it was inexplicably canceled following its second season, leaving viewers yearning for a conclusion to the story. A year later, Frost and Lynch would leave faint clues in the form of a motion picture prequel, Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me, which revisits the last few days before Laura Palmer was murdered.

Twin Peaks: The Return, picks up right where the last one left off… only now, it is 25 years in the future. Despite its many twists and turns, which range between the more nightmarish to the more subtle, the show maintains a campier feel, not unlike that of the original ABC primetime soap.

But, the most interesting aspect of Twin Peaks: The Return is not necessarily discovering where Special Agent Dale Cooper (brilliantly portrayed by actor Kyle MacLachlan) has been for the last quarter of a Century, nor is it the numerous celebrity guest appearances… it is the soundtrack.

To better understand the working relationship Lynch had developed with Badalamenti, one only need look at how the ever-popular “Twin Peaks theme” came to be. It was originally composed as an instrumental track for the song “Falling,” which Lynch had written for dream pop singer, Julee Cruise, for her 1989 debut album, Floating Into the Night.

Following the success of the show’s first season, her performance went on to chart in 12 different countries around the globe and later won the GRAMMY Award for Best Pop Instrumental Performance.

Badalamenti first picked up the piano when he was just a kid, growing up in Brooklyn, and by the time he was in his teens he had figured out a way to put his newfound musical talents to good use. He would get a summer job playing for folks at resorts up in the Catskill Mountains. Before long, he went on to receive a Bachelor’s from the Eastman School of Music, and by 1960, earned his Master’s in composition from the Manhattan School of Music.

Before working with Lynch, on his 1986 suspense/mystery movie, Blue Velvet, Badalamenti began by scoring such films as the 1973 action movie, Gordon’s War, and 1974 dramedy, Law and Disorder.

Lynch first hired Badalamenti as a singing coach for Italian actress, Isabella Rossellini, but when he was unable to secure the rights to perform gothic dream-pop group This Mortal Coil’s rendition of folk musician Tim Buckley’s “Song to the Siren,” decided to team up with Badalamenti to write the song “Mysteries of Love.”

This would certainly not be the last time the two artists would combine their love of cinema and music. Badalamenti would work with Lynch to compose compelling scores for such films as Mulholland Drive, Lost Highway, Wild At Heart, The Straight Story and the ironically short-lived sitcom, On the Air. In addition to his collaborations with Lynch, he has also worked with such noteworthy producers as Brian Eno and John Cale, as well as screenwriters and directors, including, Danny Boyle, Normal Mailer, Joel Schumacher, Eli Roth, and Jean-Pierre Jeunet

Now, with the new series on Showtime, Badalamenti has enlisted the assistance of Chromatics producer/multi-instrumentalist, Johnny Jewel, to prepare two soundtracks for the limited series event. And Jewel is no rookie when it comes to original compositions, having previously lent his music to help score such films as Bronson (2008), Drive (2011), and Ryan Gosling‘s 2015 directorial debut, Lost River. 

Jewel also owns his own record label, Italians Do it Better, and is a member of several different groups including, Glass Candy, Desire, and Symmetry.

The first of two soundtracks from the limited series event features several guest performers showcased at the local watering hole, “The Bang Bang Bar,” as well as some other selections from the Showtime original series, including: Au Revoir Simone, The Cactus Blossoms, Sharon Van Etten, The Paris Sisters, Trouble, Booker T & the MGs, Blunted Beatz, Chromatics and more to be announced.

Meanwhile, the second will feature all new compositions from Badalamenti, as well as some new music from Johnny Jewel and the Nashville rock duo, Muddy Magnolias.

It is also rumored that Julee Cruise will make a special appearance, although it is still unclear which of the two new albums she will be featured on. I guess we’ll just have to wait and see when both albums are available to own, on September 8th.

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