The Bands of Twin Peaks
The Roadhouse, Twin Peaks. A smoke-filled club, with wooden walls and many secrets. A place where people hang out at night, telling their stories over a bottle of beer. A bar where the town’s darkest confessions come to the surface underneath a flickering neon light. A drug deal. The stale smell of aged liquor. A missing person. And, suddenly, the stage across the room comes to life.
A cabaret-like emcee steps up to the microphone. Everyone stops talking, as if their troubles were unexpectedly gone. The man solemnly announces: “Ladies and gentlemen, the Roadhouse is proud to welcome…”, followed by the name of the night’s act. The artists walk in. They start to play. Everybody dances in a magical rapture.
The Musical Director of Twin Peaks
One of the things Twin Peaks: The Return will be remembered for are the musical live performances at the end of each episode. Most of them are indie-rock underground bands, but we’ve also seen dream pop performances and unplugged bluesy acts. Some fans think these numbers are nothing but frustrating time fillers to go along with the end credits. Some others believe they are part of the there-is-always-music-in-the-air concept, or even a deliberate element to set the timeline within the show. The truth is that we don’t know the truth. What we know for sure is that the live performances are due to be released on September 8th. We also know that they were personally hand-picked by Dean Hurley, musical director of Twin Peaks and long-time Lynch collaborator.
In a recent interview, Hurley admitted that, “From the get-go, David wanted bands to fill the bar, like Julee Cruise did at the Roadhouse in the original. She was the house band. This time, Lynch wanted a bunch of different bands and to shoot them all in one day, and then find places for them within the show. The whole thing – remember – was one giant script shot as one long movie.” Yes, as of today we still have four more parts (or episodes) to go, and we’re yet to see artists such as Eddie Vedder or THE Julee Cruise herself. However, we’ve witnessed some enchanting moments at the Roadhouse so far. Why do these particular acts sound so suitable for the world of Twin Peaks? And why do the songs match the show’s overall mood so well? Let’s check them out.
Chromatics – SHADOW
Portland electronic music band Chromatics appears at the end of the season premiere. Not only their song Shadow contains a few astonishing references to Twin Peaks (“You’re in the water, I’m standing on the shore” or “And now we’re just a stranger’s dream, I took a picture from the frame and now you’re nothing like you seem”), but also the accompanying music video has some fun Easter eggs – take a look at the ring worn by guitarist Adam Miller!
The Cactus Blossoms – MISSISSIPPI
“It’s the journey of someone who gives up and jumps into the river as the golden sun sets in the distance”, Jack Torrey (leader of The Cactus Blossoms duo) says. “I’m not sure if he sinks or floats by the end of the song, but there’s a peaceful thing that happens when he contemplates all of the friends he’ll never meet and sees her face shimmering on the water and fading away as he descends.”. This is what the song Mississippi is about, performed at the end of episode 3. Plus, the lyrics conjure up something very familiar: “She’s somewhere on the shore waiting for me, with her wet hair and sandy gown”.
Au Revoir Simone – LARK
At the end of episode 4, dream pop indie band Au Revoir Simone treats the Roadhouse to the haunting Lark. The Brooklyn-based trio has been friends with David Lynch for a long time, and Lynch has declared himself a huge fan of the band. In 2007 he even remixed Au Revoir Simone’s Just Like A Tree, but – as the band’s leader Annie Hart claims – “it was our first time officially working with him and we loved it. He just let us do our thing and made us feel relaxed.”
Trouble – SNAKE EYES
Here’s the first song in our list written and recorded specifically for the show (it’s featured at the end of episode 5). After all, Trouble is a newly-formed instrumental trio including the above-mentioned Dean Hurley, Alex Zhang Hungtai and Riley Lynch (David Lynch’s son, a.k.a. Bing in Twin Peaks). Snake Eyes has already been issued on a special-edition vinyl single. The B-side includes another great Twin-Peaks-esque song, Mother’s Gone. Both tracks share the same bluesy, smoky mood. Definitely worth a listen!
Sharon Van Etten – TARIFA
Sharon Van Etten’s sultry vocals fill the Roadhouse at the end of episode 6. The song is Tarifa, and its lyrics perfectly capture all the heartbreak and sorrow of Laura Palmer’s story: “Hit the ground, the yard, I found something. I could taste your mouth” and “Let’s run under cursing myself at night. Slow it was seven. I wish it was seven all night” are seen by many fans as (subconscious) references to Fire Walk With Me. Besides, Van Etten has described herself as a big fan of David Lynch: “I admired [him] so much. Following his dreams no matter how dark they go, and always seeing the light in everything. I can relate to that.”
Nine Inch Nails – SHE’S GONE AWAY
The Nine Inch Nails need no introduction. The band has been around since 1988, scoring hit after hit, and is probably the most popular out of all the Roadhouse performers. Trent Reznor’s highly-anticipated appearance is about ten minutes into the trend-setting episode 8, when NIN give a haunting performance of their 2016 song She’s Gone Away. While listening, think about BOB and Mother… especially knowing what happens after this number!
Au Revoir Simone – A VIOLENT YET FLAMMABLE WORLD
Episode 9 features Au Revoir Simone once again. This time, the trio performs a sweet ballad about dreams and the world. It almost sounds like a spiritual follow-up to Julee Cruise’s Questions In A World Of Blue.
Rebekah Del Rio (ft. Moby) – NO STARS
Most of you Lynch fans might remember a young Del Rio lip-syncing to Llorando at Mullholland Drive’s Club Silencio. This time, the singer’s powerful three-octave voice stops the show at the Roadhouse with a song co-written by David Lynch. No Stars was included in Del Rio’s 2011 album Love Hurts Love Heals, and performed in episode 10 of Twin Peaks with DJ Moby. The lyrics are so suggestive they almost sound like the musical version of a Log Lady’s intro! In addition, the Black Lodge-inspired dress worn by Rebekah is spot on.
Chromatics – SATURDAY
Chromatics is the second band to perform twice in the show. In episode 12, they play an instrumental cover of Saturday. Some fans pointed out that the title may hint not only at the timeline, but also at Saturn. In fact, the word “Saturday” means “Day of Saturn” and, back in season 2, Major Garland Briggs told Windom Earle that “there’s a time, if Jupiter and Saturn meet, they will receive you”. Plus, let’s not forget the planet-shaped lamp beside Laura Palmer in the Red Room!
James Hurley – JUST YOU
Spoofed, parodied, never really taken seriously… and yet Just You is back! The 50s-inspired number performed by James Marshall (in character as James Hurley) in the original run is reprised 25 years later in episode 13. No Maddy and Donna this time, just two backup singers. Across the room, sitting in a booth, Renee listens in tears, hopelessly heartbroken. Just You has suddenly turned from a teenage love song into an adult, failed romance ballad: “Just you and I, forever, together, in love”.
Lissie – WILD WEST
Lissie is another favorite of David Lynch (back in 2010, he even tweeted about the singer-songwriter four times in a row). It’s no surprise then that he decided to include her in the Roadhouse line-up. At the end of episode 14, Lissie sings Wild West, included in her 2016 album of the same name. The song reflects the artist’s idea of freedom, with lyrics à la secret diary of Laura: “Are you out there to take away my fear? I’ve been living my life on the edge. Slip and fall if I take one more step. I’ve been dancing in the moonlight. I’ve been laughing with this firelight”.
What is your favorite Roadhouse moment? Let us know! Feel free to leave a comment, share and like.