Director David Lynch has a distinctive filmmaking style that includes meticulously crafted sound design so it’s no surprise that his picks include some of the greatest musicians of all time. He talks about a classical song that “thrilled his soul,” as well as three artists whose standout performances defined a decade. Lynch recently joined Gnarls Barkley mastermind Danger Mouse and Sparklehorse for a collaborative project called Dark Night of the Soul, adding a multi-media aspect with a 100-page book of photos.
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1.) Elvis Presley - That's All Right
2.) Jimi Hendrix - Wild Thing
3.) Big Brother and the Holding Company - Ball and Chain
4.) Otis Redding - I've been Loving You Too Long
5.) Richard Strauss - Im Abendrot
Jason Eldredge: It's Jason Eldredge from KCRW and I am here with the film and television director who everybody knows, of course, from "Twin Peaks" and such films as "Eraserhead" and "The Elephant Man," "Blue Velvet", "Mulholland Dr". He's an Academy Award-nominated director -- four times -- of course I'm talking about David Lynch. David welcome to the studios of KCRW.
David Lynch: Great to be here, Jason.
JE: We're here to talk about some of the music that has inspired you over the years as part of KCRW's Guest DJ project. I understand it was hard for you to whittle them down.
DL: It's almost a cruel show you have going. It's impossible to pick five songs. I sort of thought firsts, so I picked this song as a first.
DL: Elvis Presley was nobody. Sun Records, Sam Phillips was down the street and he made friends with the receptionist, she knew he wanted to sing, he couldn't get arrested. And one day, a guitar player and a bass player booked the place for the weekend and they said to Sam, maybe you know a singer who could come in and we'll just fiddle around. And he called Elvis. So, they spent the morning singing gospel.
If I was shooting this scene, I'd start a slow dolly in on Elvis' face, because history was about to made. He gets up clowning around singing this song, "That's Alright Mama," immediately the bass player jumps up starts slapping this bass. A second later, Sam comes running down the hallway and says ‘what’s going on’ and it changed the course of time.
Song: Elvis Presley’s “That's All Right”
JE: Elvis Presley with the Arthur Crudup composition from 1954, "That Alright Mama" on KCRW.
DL: Ok, I was thinking of firsts, as Monterey Pop Festival. From what I know, three people jumped into the big time as a result of their appearances at Monterey Pop. This first one, Jimi Hendrix, it is not the version that he did at Monterey Pop, but it's “Wild Thing”. It’s got an unbelievable beginning, Jimi on this guitar.
DL: What he does with his guitar is so inspiring to me. It’s so new, and yet old. It was so perfect. He owned this thing.
JE: David, I understand that you have done some music writing yourself. Talk about that experience a little bit.
DL: Well, I'd always, of course, loved music, but I was way more involved with sound effects because of film. And, I loved sound that approached music. I'm not a musician but I love to play and I love to experiment and I love musicians. Musicians are generally speaking, like children; they love to sleep late, they're happier than most people, they get along well -- unless they’re in a band then they start fighting -- they're very special people, and I love to be in the studio with musicians. It’s a thrilling, thrilling thing, and it all led to more experiments with music.
Song: Jimi Hendrix’s “Wild Thing”
JE: That was Jimi Hendrix’s "Wild Thing" on KCRW's Guest DJ Project. I'm Jason Eldredge sitting here with director David Lynch. Let's go for your third selection here, which is of course Janis Joplin, when she was with Big Brother and the Holding Company at Monterey Pop.
DL: Janis Joplin is just beyond the beyond in her rendition of this song, and its such a powerful song. And it’s the timing of this thing and the way the thing goes with the guitars and drum. Beautiful bassline. It's thrilling.
Song: Janis Joplin’s “Ball and Chain”
DL: In the front row at Monterey Pop, Mama Cass of the Mamas and the Papas is there. In the film you see her and her jaw is on the floor. She cannot believe what she was seeing. It’s so beautiful.
JE: That was a selection from Janis Joplin as recorded live at the Monterey Pop Festival. David, I understand you have another selection for us from that festival. This is Otis Redding "I've Been Loving You Too Long."
DL: This song and the way Otis sings it…there's the story and the way the story is told, there’s the song and the way it is sung. An incredible song and Otis Redding, an incredible rendition.
By the end of this song, in my mind, he breaks through to a place that rarely is experienced. And so much feeling…so deep.
Song: Otis Redding’s "I've Been Loving You Too Long"
JE: Its Jason Eldredge here on KCRW.com, sitting with director David Lynch, and we’re talking about a few songs that have inspired him over the years. You whittled it down to five and I asked you to surprise me with this last one so why don't you go ahead and introduce what this last song is.
DL: I’m going to go to Richard Strauss. We’re getting into long haired stuff now. I was in a really swank Mercedes Benz in Germany one night. Black, deep black and snow flakes the size of silver dollars coming down. And I'd been left in the car -- I forget who I was with but they had gone into a building and I had been left in the car -- and I turned on the radio and I heard this thing. And it thrilled my soul. This particular piece of music at that particular time, I saw in my minds eye, my four year old son coming down a flight of stairs and it made me start crying.
Song: Richard Strauss’ “Im Abendrot”
JE: That was Richard Straus on KCRW. I’m Jason Eldredge sitting here with David Lynch who has been going through some of the music that has inspired him throughout his career and personal life. David, thank you so much for coming in today.
DL: Beautiful work today Jason,
JE: Oh thanks you…you too.
[PLAYLIST GOES HERE]