Friday, July 11, 2008

Bend Me, Shape Me #6: Fire Walk With Me

Do you consider yourself a good person?

I consider myself a good person, yet I know better than anyone that bad exists within me. Darkness intermingles with light. However, I don't think that good and bad, that black and white, that darkness and light mixes to create gray inside me.

I prefer to think it creates blue.

"Lights start changin', and there's wires in the air..."

The universe of Twin Peaks is much like our own; only we see things there with our own eyes that we have to imagine or assume in reality (as it's strictly defined).

The 1992 film TWIN PEAKS: FIRE WALK WITH ME is a prequel to the 1990-91 TV show Twin Peaks.


The film deals explicitly with the last days of Laura Palmer, as she finally realizes that the evil spirit Bob that has visited her bedroom and raped her for years is actually her father Leland Palmer.

Leland has been fighting the darkness within him, but he's fought a losing battle. Leland believes that he is a good person too, which may or may not have necessitated the creation of a demon who takes over his body and mind and does unspeakable things while "good" Leland is away.

I suspect that man's creation of God and The Devil are derived from much the same impulse. It's terrifying, even crippling to realize that one is capable of great good AND great evil, so why not create a supernatural being that we can blame for the evil that men do instead of looking ourselves in the mirror and accepting that that's just the price you pay for being human?

"The man behind the mask is looking for the book with the pages torn out."

I got idea man
You take me for a walk
Under the sycamore trees
The dark trees that blow
In the dark trees that blow

And I'll see you
And you'll see me
And I'll see you in the branches that blow
In the breeze
I'll see you in the trees
Under the sycamore trees

I bought the soundtrack to TP:FWWM at the beginning of my senior year of college, and more than any album I can think of before or since it wormed its way inside my head and spoke to some part of me that I wasn't conscious of before.

This is music that transmutes melancholy into beauty. This is definitive mood music. This is the soundtrack to the unconscious wanderings of someone headed somewhere.... weird.

Was it me?
Was it you?
Questions in a world of blue

When did the day
with all its light
turn into night?

To me, this is the finest hour in the long and fruitful collaboration between David Lynch and composer Angelo Badalamenti. Both men produced the album, one or both arranged and orchestrated every song, and they assembled some amazing jazz talent in the studio.

Badalamenti (L) and Lynch (R) in the studio recording the LOST HIGHWAY soundtrack

Alongside standout tracks like the intense reworking of the TV show's theme in "Theme From Twin Peaks:Fire Walk With Me" and the otherworldly vocals of Jimmy Scott in "Sycamore Tree" is my personal favorite "Moving Through Time." This track is far more airy and dreamlike than the rest, anchored by the hypnotic vibes of Jay Hoggard and the violin-like guitar effects of Vinnie Bell. I only discovered today that the drummer on this and several other tracks is Grady Tate, whom readers of a certain age will know from his vocal work on Schoolhouse Rock faves "I Got Six" and "Naughty Number Nine". If you'd like to hear "Moving Through Time", click here.

I think I've mentioned before that this was the record that I listened to on my headphones as I went to sleep on hundreds of nights. There's something reassuring in its dark, and something authentic in its light. It's weird, and frightening at times, but, like Lynch's best work, it will never lie to you and tell you everything's OK when it most assuredly is not. And, just as Laura Palmer discovered at the end of her tortured life, we hear a light at the end of the tunnel even from within the shroud of darkness.

**If you're new to the site, the goal of the Bend Me, Shape Me series can be found here.**

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