Listen to the Sounds: The Featured Music of The Return So Far

There has been a lot of discussion during this Season of TWIN PEAKS about musical decisions, the lack of Badalamenti, the Roadhouse band rotation, and the use of sound that is not music. From the very beginning we were told to “Listen to the sounds” but I have yet to have seen any comprehensive writing or analysis on the topic, especially considering just how important it seems already to be. There has been the occasional remark on twitter about a particular song’s feeling or lyrics, but nothing beyond that.

Part 8 featured nearly thirty minutes worth of sound and visuals without any dialogue, not including a five minute Nine Inch Nails performance, initially to the chagrin of many, though I was quite fond of it and still am. I think that after such an episode it makes sense to write a piece analyzing some of that, more specifically, the usage of popular music that has made an appearance on the show, in any form, from Chromatics performing Shadow at the Roadhouse to Gordon whistling Rammstein’s Engel in his office.  I will not handle any contemporary piece which features David Lynch as an integral member of its creative process, as that would be counter productive, so any songs that I skip, you can determine involved Lynch. All songs discussed are linked for your listening pleasure. What I really want to do is determine why the pieces were chosen. What makes these 3 to 5 minute long segments worthy of inclusion?

Part One features several of my favourite songs, the first of which happens to be American Woman by the Muddy Magnolias. Now, this happens to be the ‘David Lynch’ muddy-magnolias-home1remix version, but I’m including it anyways, because literally all he did was slow it down to distort the song. It plays during, again, one of my favourite scenes of the the first Part, where we follow the road and the headlights of what turns out to be DoppelCoop’s car. When I first heard this song in the show, I didn’t particularly realize that it’s sung by two women, but I did look the song up later and discovered that the distortion really does a lot for a song that would otherwise not fit very well with the TWIN PEAKS vibe that Lynch and Frost seem to be going for.

The opening lyrics, despite being about a woman, are quite telling, ultimately, for who DoppelCoop turns out to be.

Bring the bacon and I’ll put it in the pan
Got my own, baby life is grand
Every move I make is just a part of my plan
And I do it just because you said I can’t

As we  – and Ray – well know, DoppelCoop doesn’t need. He wants. And I think this really fits well with that concept. The song goes on to talk about how women should be treated, and if ‘you’ can’t see and understand that, then ‘you’ better get lost. In a show that is at turns criticized for being misogynistic and praised for being feminist (depending on your viewpoint) I think that beyond its placement in the show, this choice of song is definitely getting a point across.

Do I look like,
The steppin’ French type?
I’ma whole lotta grown ass American woman
Do I look like,
The walk over me type
I’ma whole lotta strong ass American woman
I know my worth and who I am

My estimation has always been that the women of TWIN PEAKS are strong and revered for characteristics that are considered “feminine”, and not belittled. It has been said too, that Cooper’s greatest investigational tools are his empathy and intuition, also traditionally female traits.

You better treat me proper
I’ma whole lotta,
You gotta,
Recognise a real ass woman, if you can’t don’t bother

To all my head strong women
Single mamas with the children
Three jobs and something to prove
Go along and work your way through school
Don’t let ’em put you in a corner
‘Cuz it’s a new world order
You’re a star, you’re under strife
Make ’em salute you like a flag on the fourth of July

We also have a lot of women in different roles on the show, women who might be single mothers (Shelly), working women (Norma) and so on and so forth. I also want to touch on Laura. Considering that this is an 18 hour film, I believe that these songs are not only relevant in the moment they play, but rather all the way through. Knowing what we do about Laura, not only from these eight parts, but especially Fire Walk With Me, I feel like the last four lines are for her. She is going to be the ultimate hero of this story, of that I’m sure. It’s Laura we all love, Laura who exerts power and influence even in her moments of helplessness. This is Laura’s story, lest we forget, and it’s her we salute.

Next up is the Roadhouse song of the night from Part Two, Shadow by the Chromatics. This is a beautiful track, one that hypnotized all who were listening to be sure! It got quite a lot of fond attention on twitter that night. The release of this song on a tribute album to Lynch and Juliee Cruise is understandable and was accompanied by this statement from Johnny Jewel:

“Everyone has a shadow. There is no real difference between ten years ago and ten seconds ago. Your future determines your past. The flame of nostalgia is a tempting black hole to jump into, but I recognize it as a fantasy.

Romance is brave. So is simplicity. Love is a call to war. Why wouldn’t you want to respect music?”

The scene it sets is the one, which is already infamous, wherein Shelly says that James was always cool. Nostalgia here much? It’s also mentioned that James is ‘different’ now than he was then, because of a motorcycle accident, all of which fit the tone of the song.

Shadow, take me down

Shadow, take me down with you

At night I’m driving in your car

Pretending that we’ll leave this town

We’re watching all the street lights fade

And now you’re just a stranger’s dream

I took your picture from the frame

And now you’re nothing like you seem

Your shadow fell like last night’s rain

Aside from the James aspect, shadows have been discussed on Twin Peaks plenty. Hawk calls the Dwellers/Doppelgangers what have you the “Shadow Selves”. Could this be a reference to DoppelCooper? I definitely think it fits the bill. Twofold, a warning against nostalgia comes in perfect timing with the release of The Return, which is anything but nostalgic. Many might not agree with me on this, but it’s a good thing that The Return isn’t a nostalgia fest, because we’ve seen how that’s played out with other television shows (Knight Rider 2000, I’m talking about you). This version of TWIN PEAKS, and indeed, every version of Cooper that we’ve met so far, is “nothing like […it…] seem(s).

From Part Three, Mississippi  by the Cactus Blossoms, is originally off an album called “You’re Dreaming” released a year ago. How apropos. The music video contains the beautiful vistas of a what appears to be a lake or river and it’s surroundings, though for the most part, it is focused on images of the water as it flows, ending with the two singers floating in the water, face up. This Part featured the return of Cooper to what may or may not be the real world from the Purple World/other dimensional realm. The first line of the song I’m going down to the sea, is interesting, though not at first glance. In Shadow, there is also a reference to standing in the water, which might connect back to Cooper’s experience in the fortress surrounded by the purple ocean. More specifically, I think this song is evocative of Dale’s new journey as ‘Dougie’.

There’s a dive I know on River Street

Go on in and take my seat

There’s a lot of friends I’ll never meet

Gonna take a dive off River Street

Dale is ‘back’ but he is without anything that made him Dale. The idea of going to someplace and never ‘meeting friends’ reminds me of this concept. The disconnect is again apparent in the following lines:

You look different from way down here

Like a circus mirror I see flashes, of you on the surface

I’m coming up from way down here

The water’s clear, all I want is to see your face

It looks like Dale, and when he speaks, sounds like Dale, and occasionally, sparks of his old self shine through, but they’re distorted, and he’s ultimately inaccessible to us or anyone else, be they friend, foe, new or old. Also, keeping in mind that this song is actual, traditional country, as opposed to what we normally think of as country these days, we can also fill in the ‘country journey’: our classic no-name cowboy on a journey to who knows where, and he’ll get there who knows when.

The final point to address with this song is the angel mention. Angels are a theme of TWIN PEAKS, as anyone who has seen Fire Walk With Me, and occur in specific correlation with Laura Palmer.

My angel sings down to me

She’s somewhere on the shore waiting for me

With her wet hair and sandy gown

Singing songs waves of sound

We know (how much do we ever really know?) that Laura was taken ‘up’ out of the lodge. So could she be the angel? The image of a woman with wet hair and a sandy gown certainly evokes the image of Laura, wrapped in plastic (her “gown”), dead on the beach. I think that to draw a connection there is not unwarranted. The imagery in the music video also supports this.

Take Five by the Dave Brubeck Quartet was featured in part five, and analyzed fairly thoroughly in another article on this site, Dream a Little Dream of Me:

“The song itself has extra meaning. It is written in 5/4 or quintuple time, which is an odd time signature. It is not entirely uncommon, and is found throughout many different cultures’ folk music, but in jazz and Western popular music it was almost entirely unheard of until after World War II. Its inclusion on The Dave Brubeck Quartet’s 1959 album Time Out is notable as this is an album almost entirely dedicated to unusual meters. It was purposefully written this way so that musicians and listeners alike had to pay more attention to it and its altered swing tempo, and it was written on purpose to be adventurous. It’s atypical. Can we then extrapolate meaning from this? Does this world exists outside of the norm? A dimension adjacent, created to be used by Cooper to regain himself?”

The final Roadhouse song for that night was Lark by Au Revoir Simone, and, aside from the performance recording that is the music video for Shadow, this is the first real music video one of our songs has. The music video is a collage of hyper defined shots of a cylindrical vase in which ink or black dye has been dropped, slowly descending and mixing into the water, and a curtain blowing around a houseplant, in contrast to the highly blurred and distorted shots of a woman’s daily life. There’s some strobing, and it kind of gave me a headache.

This one was initially hard for me. I wasn’t terribly fond of the song itself and placing it with the tone of the Part, when it first aired, was difficult. I am still unsure of any direct connection with this part, but there are most certainly other factors to be commented on. Again, this song really evokes Laura Palmer to my mind. Her constant battle over her self-worth, he power versus her subjugation, the effect of her presence on the people around her: Bobby, Donna, James.

Below is the full text of the song.

So

So long

So long ago

There wasn’t anyone out there I thought I needed to know

But no more

When I find the day leave my mind in the evening just as the day before

I saw the window was open

The cool air

I don’t know what you saw there

Don’t know what you saw in me

Sometimes I want to be enough for you

Don’t ask

Know that it’s understood

There’s not enough of me

I saw that something was broken

I’ve crossed the line

I’ll point you to a better time

A safer place to be

Sometimes I want to be enough for you

Don’t ask

Know that it’s done no good

Sometimes I want to be enough for you

Don’t ask

Know that it’s done no good

Another thing that really stood out to me was the idea of the open window, with the wind blowing through, which we know heralds the arrival of BOB, and the transference of evil/his influence in the show. Definitely something to ponder.

Now we come to a Part that features a lot of music, beginning and ending with the dreamy, trance jazz instrumentals of Johnny Jewel. The opening song is called The Flame. Fire, of course, is inextricably linked to Twin Peaks, so I won’t make too much more of that.

The next song is quite different to discuss. It plays every time we see Lorraine, who makes the phone calls in Vegas and is supposedly responsible for orchestrating some sort of pre-arranged job (I think most agree that this has to do with killing Cooper). The song, I AM by Blunted Beatz is actually a remixed sample from a song called Good Man  by Raphael Saadiq. I absolutely love Good Man and its music video, which are just classically beautiful in a very 60’s/70’s period drama chic sort of way. A woman, unhappy in her relationship, sets her man up for beating her and he goes to prison. She has a series of meaningless dalliances with men from the hotel where she works. At the end, the man returns and gives her an envelope filled with money. The woman obviously regrets what she did. I see the connection with Lorraine as being the same desperation, and agitation portrayed on the parts of the man and woman in the music video, and in the song. In terms of lyrics, I didn’t notice anything.

The next songs to play are issuing from the radio of the black Charger that drives past the house at Rancho Rosa, the one in which the car thieves ride. They are both by the same artist, Uniform. The first is called Habit and the second is called Tabloid. I was unable to find lyrics for either of these songs, but, from their bandcamp, I did find this statement:

“This record is primarily about psychic transition,” Berdan explained. “The distress that these songs attempt to illustrate comes from a place of stagnation and monotony. This is what happens when old ways of thinking become exhausted and old ways of coping prove ineffective. Something must change or it will break.”

The characters Berdan brings to life in his lyrics quit using but have ruinous relapses (“Habit”) or struggle as their resolve crumbles (“Bootlicker”); they use alcohol to ease their insomnia but and are helpless when they get sober and stop sleeping again (“Night of Fear”); they’re existential misanthropes trapped in dead-end lives (“The Lost”). While the titles have been largely culled from the world of horror, thematically these songs have more in common with the works of Hubert Selby, Jr than Lucio Fulci. These are stories about people at the end of their proverbial ropes. Their old medicines are no longer effective and their old ways of living cause them nothing but confusion and despair.  They are paralyzed by fear, regret, and self-doubt. This is either the darkness before the dawn or eternal night.”

If this doesn’t bring to mind TWIN PEAKS, I don’t know what does. The themes are definitely prevalent on the show as well as relevant to the message, and in the world at large. There’s been some talk about how this season deals with the degradation of society. Janey-E says to the loan sharks “We’re living in dark, dark times, and you’re part of the problem.” We’ve seen this heavily in the actual town of Twin Peaks, with the new youth being drugged out psychopaths with (thus far) zero redeeming qualities. I’m looking at you Richard Horne and Officer Chad and Steven Burnett. Maybe the inclusion of these songs is a statement towards that end.

Speaking of the Burnetts, when Shelly’s daughter, Becky Burnett, gets high in the car, the next song that plays in I Love How You Love Me as sung by The Paris Sisters.  I think at its core, this song’s inclusion is about Becky and Steven, apparently hopelessly in love, despite the destructive, dangerous nature of their relationship. Or, on a darker train of thought, it’s less about each other and more about how much they love the drug. TWIN PEAKS never does shy away from that particular thematic element. FWWM is rife with it.

The next Roadhouse song doesn’t occur at the end of the episode, but rather slightlyscreen-shot-2017-06-05-at-11-39-12-am before. It’s an amazing instrumental piece called Snake Eyes by Trouble. David Lynch’s son makes an appearance here as a member of the band. Lovely! Not so lovely of course is that this is the track chosen to accompany the less than flattering introduction of Richard Horne. Snake Eyes fits the strange, tonal noise background, unsettling sounds over a consistent bass line theme that’s been running through The Return so far. It’s like a darker, grungier take on Badalamenti and I adore it thoroughly. It’s quite possibly my second or third favourite Roadhouse song.

We end, once again as we began, with Johnny Jewel, except this time the song is Windswept, to poor, abandoned and forgotten Dale standing by the statue in the plaza outside Dougie’s workplace. This song follows the same themes which Jewel has already incorporated into the music. Shadows, fire and now wind, all elements of the mythos of TWIN PEAKS. In Part 6, seeing as it picks up directly where Part 5 leaves off, we start with Windswept once again. We have Lorraine’s theme I AM again in this part as well.

Tarifa, a song by Sharon Van Etten closes out Part 6 at the Roadhouse. If you were paying attention to the lyrics of this song, you should already have been wondering at this point, how did Lynch and Frost choose these songs? Did they look for keywords? This song feels most likely to be a reactionary piece to the boy’s death. It seems to me as though this would almost be from the mother’s point of view. It’s a disjointed song in terms of lyrics, as they don’t necessarily flow directly from one idea to the other. The first line Hit the ground conjures the image of the little boy in that horrific scene. It’s a song about the fading of memory, which is, of course, what happens when we lose someone, as anyone who has done so can attest, myself included.

You were so just

Looking across the sky

Can’t remember

I can’t recall, no

I can’t remember anything at all

This song reads like grief feels. It’s a distanced grief, but grief all the same. Regrets of things done and said and never made right:

Tell me when

Tell me when is this over?

Chewed you out

Chew me out when I’m stupid

I don’t wanna

Everyone else pales

The fading recollections of past peace:

We skipped the sunrise

Looking across the grass

It’s all there. And, of course, the eternal question of all who have lost a loved one: Why?

You summon

Forget about everyone else

Fall away somehow

To figure it out

The singer, towards the end of the song says Send in the owl, which, if you haven’t read my other article Doppelgängers, Owls and Other Folklore Superstitions in Twin Peaks , is an omen of death in larger folklore in addition to that of TWIN PEAKS. I don’t know how they continue to do it, but somehow they keep finding songs that reference TWIN PEAKS unintentionally, that fit the theme of the moment, and just roll with it. Honestly, I’m impressed.

Part Seven is a bit of a throwback when it comes to music, featuring the classic Green Onions by Booker T. and the MG’s and Sleepwalk  by Santo and Johnny. But there is a third song which makes an extremely important (in my opinion) cameo via Gordon Cole’s whistle. Engel by Rammstein. Now, David Lynch has a bit of an history with Rammstein. Their eponymous song Rammstein was featured in Lynch’s film Lost Highway and he also directed the music video. This suggests to me, like with everything on The Return, the inclusion of Engel in The Return is no accident, despite how much Lynch loves to incorporate the ones that do happen on set. David Lynch did not just wake up and decide to whistle Engel on set that day. It was definitely predetermined.

The music video is mostly just the band singing interspersed with them watching an exotic dancer with a snake, a visual meant to invoke the religious themes of the song. There’s one moment in the music video involving band member Flake and the dancer who switch places by way of…electricity! Complete with the same sort of electric current giphysound that’s been used so often in The Return. Like I said. This one is not an accident. The lyrics as well have nice harmony with TWIN PEAKS. There is an ‘English version’ of the song, as is the case with many popular foreign bands, however, the lyrics, despite invoking the same meaning, are obviously different by necessity, in order to fit the music. I’ve decided instead to provide you my own translation, considering I’m a fluent speaker. The translation which I’ll provide is not necessarily a direct translation, as some words substitute better.

Engel, for those unaware, is Angel, so right off the bat we have a reference point. Essentially, the lyrics are as follows:

Those who on earth are good throughout their lifetimes

Will become after death, angels.

As you look up at the sky, you wonder,

Why can they not be seen?

Only when the clouds sleep

Can man perceive us in the heavens

We are afraid and alone

God knows, I don’t want to be an angel.

They live behind the sunshine

Infinitely far from us, separated.

They must cling tightly to the stars

So that they do not fall from heaven.

Lately, there’s been a lot of talk about the lines from FWWM about just what types of beings the Lodge Spirits are, where they ‘descend’ from. Again, the Laura Palmer correlation here, and the idea that being an angel isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. In the English version of the song, the lyrics are altered at one point to say Angels live, they never die / Apart from us, behind the sky / They’re fading souls who’ve turned to ice / So ashen white in paradise / Goddamn an angel when I die / Heaven must be hell in the sky.  And does Laura not say that she is dead, yet she lives? If she a fading soul? When she pulls aside her face, the light that shines out is highly reminiscent of the angel sequences in FWWM.

Green Onions plays over the now classically infamous two and a half minute scene of a man sweeping the dance floor at the Roadhouse, after hours. It’s uninterrupted and someone just so perfect for the moment. I was already on edge during that scene, just wondering if something was going to happen. The drawn on manner definitely lends itself to making the audience second guess themselves, all while being lulled by the familiar song. If anyone has any ideas about why this particular song was chosen, I’ll leave it up to you to add them in the comments.

Finally, we have Sleepwalk by Santo and Johnny. This plays during the final sequence at the Double R, which is the much debated “switch up scene” where, after the interruption by a member of the “Trouble” band, some things in the scene are no longer the same. It’s a large enough interruption to get the attention of hundreds of fans. Sleepwalk’s dreamy fifties tones playing over it is interesting enough, considering the title and all that we know about TWIN PEAKS and dreams. But more importantly, the Dark Mood Woods/Windom Earle theme is playing creepily behind it! TWIN PEAKS has always commented on the dark underbelly of Americana, so to see the music layered in such a way was a phenomenal and subtle nod to that, as well as perhaps meant to imply that the switcheroo is important in some, undefined and possibly malignant way. Is it meant to showcase that something isn’t quite right? Possibly.

The music from Part Eight are so far some of the most pointedly referential, on the nose choices yet. During the ten minute DoppelCoop sequence, we are treated to an extremely slowed down “David Lynch Remix” of Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata which is eerie to say the least and telling, perhaps, at best, what with all the references so far to the moon: the Moonchild, “The Cow Jumped Over the Moon” and the fact that the moon (possibly) appears to be full during the sequence. At any rate, there’s most likely some importance to the reference beyond Lynch’s predication to slow everything down x10, just like the pacing of the show. I mean that all in good humour, of course!

From there it cut to the Roadhouse with a five minute performance from Nine Inch Nails, playing the song She’s Gone Away,  from the first EP in their series of three new experimental releases, title “Not the Actual Events”. Some people hated this, others loved it. For those who are reading and did not like it, I offer you the following explanation.

No single song found in the Return has as many unintentional (?) references to TWIN PEAKS as this Nine Inch Nails audio-mood experiment. The instrumentals alone evoke, like like Snake Eyes, that same, degraded sound, with strange, unidentifiable noises to create a sound wall of mood. And David Lynch loves mood. Some of the aforementioned noises sound like some things that we’ve heard sans music in the Return already, in extra dimensional spaces like the Purple World, and around figures like The Woodsman. As a point of reference, Lynch also has a history with Nine Inch Nails. He directed the music video for their song Came Back HauntedThe music video even has an epilepsy warning, so you know that it’s typical Lynch.

Next, the lyrics, which, then I heard them as I watch, I was so stunned over, that I almost forgot to pay attention to the clock (yes, I timed the segment).

You dig in places till your fingers bleed

Spread the infection, where you spill your seed

This, I think, is a direct BOB reference. It has been discussed that BOB’s evil travels like an infection or a germ, and after what we experienced in Part Eight, I think that theory is ever more relevant. Also, the idea that BOB might be in part responsible for evil children is something which we all considered after the introduction of Richard Horne, whom many believe to be the spawn of Audrey and DoppelCoop.

I can’t remember what she came here for

I can’t remember much of anything anymore

She’s gone, she’s gone, she’s gone away

She’s gone, she’s gone, she’s gone away

Away

Away

A little mouth opened up inside

Yeah, I was watching on the day she died

In this Part, which so heavily featured Laura Palmer, I see this as a reference to her. Leland told Dale to “Find Laura”. Indeed, we know, she left the Red Room, violently. The ideas that someone watched as she died (we know who that someone is) also makes sense in this context. So double points there.

I cannot confirm this, however, if you listen closely to the end of the song, just after the lyrics conclude, I am almost positive that some of that ‘indistinct noise’ is a sample of Waldo saying Laura’s name. Again, I can’t say this with absolute certainty, but it sure sounds like it to me. If someone with sound editing skills (like those folks on reddit who found out that the noise from the gramophone in Part One is the slowed down sound of a slot machine draw) wants to take a look at this, that would be phenomenal.

We keep licking while the skin turns black

Cut along the length, but you can’t get the feeling back

We spent a lot of time with the Woodsmen this episode, and I can’t help but get that vibe from these lines, considering everything that happened, between DoppelCoop and the nuclear explosion and the “Got a Light” sequence.

She’s gone, she’s gone, she’s gone away

She’s gone, she’s gone, she’s gone away

She’s gone, she’s gone, she’s gone away

She’s gone, she’s gone, she’s gone away

Away

Away

Away

Away

(Are you still here?)

I am dead, yet I live,” Laura Palmer says it all.

The music that plays during the Trinity nuclear test is the Threnody for the Victims of Hiroshima  by avant-garde composer Krzysztof Penderecki of Poland, who wanted the song to leave an “emotional charge”. This reference couldn’t be more straightforward considering the content. Frost and Lynch really want us to ‘get’ this one, guys, and weirdkrzysztof-penderecki-5 as it is, I think that for most of us it has come across. What is the greatest evil man has done? The bomb? It’s definitely a possibility. And either born from it, or, thrust through a whole that the detonation tore in reality (depending on your interpretation) comes BOB. The Threnody has also appeared in many films, including Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining. Of course, many made another Kubrick connection in this Part, to 2001: A Space Odyssey, from which it is obvious some influence for this sequence came.

The final song of Part Eight is My Prayer, by the Platters, another fifties callback, set to the adorable first kiss of a young girl and boy, and the other, typical fifties activities of night: fixing the car, cleaning a diner counter, being brutally murdered, and so on. I kid. In its basic format, I don’t think that there is too much to this song other than that it was a classic in 1956 and fit the context of the young lovers. However, I will say that the continued ‘pseudo religious’ connotations are probably relevant. Lastly, the only other thing which I find an interesting thing to note is that the first line says that “no songbirds are singing”. But we know that there is always music in the air.

There is still a great number of Parts left (ten to be precise) to this 18 hour feature, and in those ten more installments, we will undoubtedly hear a great number of other songs with a varying degree of specificity in their inclusion. David Lynch has always known the importance of music in making a great piece of cinema, and despite this eclectic soundtrack, I think that somehow, it will all fit together in the end. It’s clear that the music of the Return plays a major part in our reception and understanding of the story as it unfolds. I can’t wait to see where it takes us next.

2 Replies to “Listen to the Sounds: The Featured Music of The Return So Far”

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