The Music of David Lynch
The Theatre at the Ace Hotel
April 1, 2015
David Lynch wants you to meditate. More importantly, he wants at-risk populations — kids in bad schools, soldiers with PTSD, victims of violence — to be able to meditate. Lynch, the beloved auteur, noted kook, revered cinematic genius and longtime proponent of transcendental meditation, wants to make the world a better place by showing people how to achieve the clarity, serenity and quiet mind that regular meditation can facilitate.
And thus, a concert!
Last night a collection of top tier musicians gathered at downtown’s glorious Theatre at the Ace Hotel to pay tribute to the filmmaker and to perform at a fundraising event for the David Lynch Foundation, which teaches meditation to people around the world.
Moby played the bongos. Karen O. wore all black leather. Jim James from My Morning Jacket wore a tux. Shepard Fairey designed the concert poster, and Wayne Coyne of the Flaming Lips did a typically strange performance incorporating a sample he had made from construction happening across the street from his hotel at four in the morning.
All together it was a high-level variety show featuring the same kind of kooks and vixens that Lynch’s work is famous for. It was noted before the show that all of the performers involved paid their own way to get to Los Angeles for the event. That’s respect.
And was it in fact transcendent? In moments, yes.
The show opened with a rendition of the Twin Peaks theme song, natch. Then in a surreal moment that could have been straight from most any Lynch film, ‘60s psychedelia icon Donovan came out and did a very slowed-down rendition of Elvis’ “Love Me Tender.” Blues singer and Lynch protégé Chrysta Bell performed a bluesy jam while dripping in sparkles, projecting sex and coming off as a classic Lynch femme fatale. The duo Tennis did Roy Orbison's "In Dreams," and Zola Jesus did a selection from Eraserhead.
Another favorite was the venerable composer Angelo Badalamenti, who has arranged music for Lynch films including Blue Velvet, Mullholland Drive and the cult classic (and soon returning) TV series Twin Peaks. Badalamenti did Twin Peaks’ sultry jazz number “Dance of the Dream Man,” and Wild at Heart’s “Dark Spanish Symphony.” He recounted a charming story told to him by Paul McCartney in which McCartney was supposed to perform for the Queen of England, but the Queen left before Sir Paul took the stage so she could go watch Twin Peaks. He then reprised the iconic theme song, much to the delight of the fashionable audience, some of whom had paid upwards of a thousand dollars to sit in the good seats and dine and meditate with Lynch before the music started.
Other highlights included Swedish singer Lykke Li, dressed all in black, doing a haunting rendition of Chris Isaak’s seduction ballad “Wicked Game.” Moby brought the mega-church vibes with his soulful dance rendition of the Twin Peaks theme song and his own “Perfect Life.”
“It’s so remarkable that these pieces of music can trigger such intense reactions,” Moby remarked of Lynch’s musical history, before thanking the filmmaker, whom fellow meditator Moby called “his hero.”
At this point in the evening it was getting late, and the people sitting behind us were contemplating whether or not to leave. But they were probably so happy they didn’t, because then Duran Duran came out and proceeded to steal the show. Simon Le Bon, wearing a red suit, told a story about working with Lynch on the group’s 2011 concert film Duran Duran Unstaged and provoked a strong reaction from the women in the crowd, many of whom stood and waved their arms around and took photos of the band in the same way that they probably did in 1982.
The band did their 1992 classic “Ordinary World” and proceeded to blow minds with a show-closing rendition of “Hungry Like the Wolf,” which momentarily turned the classy benefit into an arena rock show, with many people dancing in the aisles. It was an appropriately surreal ending to a night dedicated to a man who has delivered us so many surreal cinematic moments.
Lynch himself then came onstage and recited a poem: “May everyone be happy. May everyone be free of disease. May auspiciousness be seen everywhere. May suffering belong to no one. Peace.”
Personal bias: Meditation is an effective tool and everyone should try it. You can donate to the David Lynch foundation here.
Random Notebook Dump: “Ordinary World” is a lot more emotionally profound to me now than it was when I was 12.