Twin Peaks Usenet Archive

Subject: RS:Musical Treatise (long)
From: smithbr@leland.Stanford.EDU (Barry Smith)
Date: 1991-04-15, 18:28

My mother in law is a MAJOR TP enthusiast hailing from the 
cultural mecca of Arkadelphia, Arkansas.  She is also a very 
accomplished musician who ordered some TP sheet music from 
Cherry Lane Music Co.  The music came with a great discussion by 
Bruce Pollock, reprinted without permission below, that IUm certain 
some of you netters will enjoy.  IUm a neophyte at posting, so bear 
with any of my transgressions.....

                    THE MUSIC OF TWIN PEAKS
                        by Bruce Pollock

RTheme from a Summer PlaceS itUs not.  Or is it?  From the evidence 
IUve assembled after a summer of careful watching and listening, I 
have come to the unequivocal conclusion that Angelo BadalementiUs 
mesmerizing music of Twin Peaks, as well as the astounding TV 
movie it defines, have much more in common with that 
aforementioned seminal work of top-of-the-chart-making teenage 
angst from 1960, than anyone would ever suspect.

     In fact, it is my now-unswervable contention that David Lynch 
has done nothing less with his endless movie and its soundtrack, 
than to offer up, in his own twisted image, a profoundly personal 
and prophetic vision of the music and mythology of 1960, 

when a hopeful young JFK rode out of Massachusetts, so jubilant 
and so doomed, and a Mouseketeer named Annette Funicello was 
our reigning Laura Palmer, the Pineapple Princess, with a dark side 
only a David Lynch could have imagined and portrayed so 
cunningly, so deliciously; the murder of a Pineapple Princess, Snow 
Queen, the tip of the iceberg puncturing the pristine dream of a town 
caught in 1960, an America suspended in 1960, till it rips that 
ethereal cool jazz surface of those twangy guitar nights to bloody 

     1960 was a year of uncommon darkness in rock Tn roll, a 
darkness at every turn reinforced by the music of Twin Peaks:  
moody, hypnotic, heavy as the weather in the Northwest quadrant.  
If it never rains in Southern California, itUs because Washington and 
Oregon use it all up before it can travel down the coast.  To 
understand the desperate destinies of the characters living in Twin 
Peaks, steps away from the Canadian border, Vancouver, aging 
hippie playground of ponytailed men and women, who disappeared 
at the end of the 60Us with their homemade guns and recreational 
drugs (and vice versa), one must be on familiar terms with the pop 
45Us that reached the charts in that eerie and foreboding year, 
especially those singles which formed the basis of LynchUs own 
Northwest Sound, as brought to fruition on the soundtrack.  Taking 
equal parts Olympia, WashingtonUs own ethereal Fleetwoods, 
whoUd surfaced in 1959, with RCome Softly to Me,S and the sax-

driven, cool jazz Wailers (not the reggae group), out of Tacoma, 
whose RTall Cool OneS made some national noise that same year, 
Lynch is well on his way toward concocting his own North by 
Northwest Side Story answer to Leonard BernsteinUs West Side 
Story, which debuted on Broadway in 1958, and sent RMariaS to the 
charts, by Johnny Mathis, in the cruicial year of 1960.  Throw in the 
ViscountsU RHarlem Nocturne,S for the haunting sax line, and Duane 
EddyUs RBecause TheyUre Young,S for the twangy guitar, and you 
almost have it.  The next-to-last element is The VenturesU recording 
of RThe Theme from Peter Gunn,S a classic TV detective show of 
1960, second only to 77 Sunset Strip in its hipness quotient, the 
Miami Vice of its time for its use of music.  Twin Peaks does Miami 
Vice, Peter Gunn, and 77 Sunset Strip one better, by making its 
soundtrack an integral part--if not the integral part--of its story line!

     The final, truly Lynchian piece in my musical thesis, is the 1960 
pop charts themselves, which were fairly riddled with death and 
destruction, especially of the teenage variety.  Jody ReynoldsU 
REndless SleepS had brought forward the idea of teenage suicide 
pacts, written in blood, in 1958; Thomas WayneUs gloomy eulogy, 
RTragedy,S was already on the charts at the time of the plane crash 
that took Buddy Holly, Richie Valens and The Big Bopper on RThe 
Day the Music Died,S in 1959.  In 1960, the horrors were ongoing.  
That was the year the Bobbettes shot Mr. Lee in RI Shot Mr. Lee.S 
RTeen Angel,S by Mark Dinning, recounted a typically grisly result 

of a teenage joyride.  Disguised as old-fashioned Cowboys and 
Indians, we had RRunning Bear,S by Johnny Preston and REl Paso,S 
by Marty Robbins; in both of which the young lover perishes in the 
final verse (to say nothing of Larry VerneUs supposed novelty, 
RPlease Mr. CusterS).  In the movie, On the Beach, the entire world 
was destroyed by a nuclear bomb, with the title tune a hit by Frank 
Chacksfield.  Bobby Darin chose 1960 to revive the saga of the 
drowned girl, RClementine.S  Coincidence?  I think not.  Nor can it 
possibly pass unnoticed that by far one of popUs most tragic love 
songs belonged to 1960, bearing the title RTell Laura I Love Her.S  
Although this Laura doesnUt wind up getting killed (only her race 
car-driving lover), surely the gnarled subconscious mind of young 
David Lynch was somewhere plotting within earshot.

     Famously enamored with certain darker shades of the rock Tn roll 
experience, namely RBlue Velvet,S Lynch was undoubtedly one of 
the few who heard it in its chart incarnation just prior to Bobby 
VintonUs hit of 1962, by the Statues in ...1960.  Another 
coincidence?  Doubtful.  But neither did this tune--or any other--
have the impact that year of RTheme from A Summer Place,S from 
the Troy Donohue movie which cut to the heart of thwarted young 
love, parents vs. children, purity verus corruption, with haunting 
strings under the guiding hand of Percy Faith.  The film may have 
been HollywoodUs answer to West Side Story, itself becoming a 
Hollywood movie in 1960, a treatise much like Twin Peaks, on the 

subterranean teenage condition run amok in honor and betrayal, sex 
and violence, warring tribes and establishment corruption--the 
impossibility of escape.  I mean, why else would Lynch cast those 
two forgotten hunks of 1960, Richard Beymer and Russ Tamblyn, 
for such prominent roles in Twin Peaks, reuniting them for the first 
time since they were matched in ... West Side Story!?

     You canUt make these things up.

     In 1960 America, teenage morality and good music was defined 
by RA Summer PlaceS...a place that was safe and warm, where 
good girls all wore RItsy Bitsy Teeny Weenie Yellow Polka Dot 
BikiniSUs and dreamed of RPuppy Love.S  But a rumbling guitar and 
an insouciant saxophone netherworld existed below the surface of 
every seething dream, ready to explode in multicolored fireworks of 

     Twin PeaksU own dreamlike theme song, RFalling,S by Julee 
Cruise, is so cool jazzy and ethereal itUs hardly a song, barely more 
than a whisper of a theme, birdlike on the wind, more gossamer 
than The Fleetwoods, and translucent as Twiggy.  Similarly, Twin 
Peaks sustains its momentum on the dreams of its assorted sordid 
citizens:  Laura and her legion of lovers, the boys of 1960.  Bobby 
once had a dream of playing football, now dreams of taking care of 
Leo, and, not incidentally, LeoUs wife, Shelly, who dreams of 

escape, as do James and Donna; EdUs patch-eyed wife, Nadine, had 
a dream of getting a patent on her silent curtain rollers; Audrey 
dreams of bringing her Marlene Dietrich act to One-Eyed Jacks (Roy 
Orbision sang RBlue AngelS in 1960); Ben and his brother Jerry (!) 
dream of burning down the mill.  (Jack Scott had a hit with 
RBurning BridgesS in 1960.)  FBI agent Cooper dreams of getting 
his slice of the pie (didnUt Skip & Flip do RCherry PieS in 1960?  
You know they did).  In his dream he sees LauraUs killer; LauraUs 
mother and cousin saw the killer in separate visions; LauraUs cousin 
dreams of becoming her cousinUs mirror image; LauraUs shrink 
dreams of saving her from herself. (Johnny BurnetteUs big hit of 
1960 was RDreaminUS; his cousin, Harold Dorman, sang RMountain 
of LoveS in 1960.  But Marv JohnsonUs smash was RMove Two[!] 
Mountains.S)  You think all this was lost on a malleable radio slave 
like Lynch?  IUm not saying the writers used every title in planning 
their insidious scenario...let history be the judge of that.

     Laura had her own dark dreams, of course, and was, herself, the 
townUs dream girl, cheerleader, Pineapple Princess turned rotten at 
the core of an America stuck in 1960.  In such a context, the story of 
Laura Palmer (LP!) is less a murder mystery than the mystery of a 
murder, the mysterious path it wreaks through the underbelly of a 
town; and the question of who killed her is probably moot, the more 
appropriate one being, who didnUt?

     Regardless, it would be almost 20 years after RA Summer PlaceS 
and West Side Story until The Bee Gees, Saturday Night Fever, and 
John TravoltaUs confident index finger jabbing at the sky would 
come to redefine movie music as hopelessly glittery accessible disco 
trash.  But now, after 13 years of dirty dancing, David Lynch and 
Angelo Badalamenti, with their Duane Eddy-inspired, Wailers-
informed, whispery Fleetwoods-like North by Northwest Side 
Story soundtrack have given us another chance, complete with sex, 
lies and videotape.

     ItUs 1960, America, at the edge of the New Frontier all over 
again.  Wake up and smell the coffee!

                                                                - Bruce Pollock

Hope you found this fingers are tired!

Barry Smith