The late Angelo Badalamenti composed music for singers like Marianne Faithfull and Nina Simone, for movies like The City of Lost Children and National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation, and even for the 1992 Olympics in Barcelona. But of all his musical work, no piece is more likely to begin playing in our minds at the mention of his name than the theme from Twin Peaks, the ABC series that both mystified and enraptured audiences in the early nineteen-nineties. Looking back, one would expect anything less from a prime-time show co-created by David Lynch. And though Twin Peaks‘ initial run would come to only three seasons, Lynch and Badalamenti’s collaboration would continue for decades thereafter.
It was with his work for Lynch, in fact, that Badalamenti first broke through as a film composer: 1986’s Blue Velvet may have established Lynch as America’s foremost popular “art house” auteur, but it also introduced its viewers the world over to the seductive and unsettling beauty of Badalamenti’s music.
That film’s song “Mysteries of Love” (with its Lynch-penned lyrics sung by Julee Cruise, who also died this year) comes early in the chronological best-of-Badalamenti Youtube playlist embedded above. Spanning the years 1986 through 2017, it also includes music from such motion pictures as Cousins, Holy Smoke!, The Beach, Cet amour-là, and The Edge of Love.
The bulk of the playlist’s selections, however, were composed for Lynch. You’ll hear music from Wild at Heart, The Straight Story, Mulholland Dr. (a film featuring a brief but memorable appearance by Badalamenti himself), and of course, Twin Peaks — not just the original series and the 1992 movie Fire Walk with Me, but also the 2017 continuation Twin Peaks: The Return, for which Badalamenti returned as composer. In all these eras, his work sounded distinctive, somehow traditional, unconventional, earnest, and ironic all at once — a mixture that could hardly have been better suited to the Lynchian sensibility. And so it is with a thoroughly Lynchian salute, in the middle of one of his daily weather reports, that the man himself sends Badalamenti off.
Based in Seoul, Colin Marshall writes and broadcasts on cities, language, and culture. His projects include the Substack newsletter Books on Cities, the book The Stateless City: a Walk through 21st-Century Los Angeles and the video series The City in Cinema. Follow him on Twitter at @colinmarshall or on Facebook.