Famed for his unique vision and creepy storytelling, from Twin Peaks to Eraserhead and back to Mullholland Drive, one thing about Lynch can never be denied — he is one of the most potent creative forces in filmmaking. But, like so many filmmakers before him, one of Lynch’s first loves was actually music. Growing up in the sixties, there was always a plethora of bands and artists capable of capturing his and an entire generation’s attention. But what would be the director’s favourite album of all time?
We think we’ve found the answer as we stumbled upon Lynch picking out a record that completely changed the course of his life through passion, performance and complete commitment. Writing as part of the Vinyl Writers project, Lynch once said, “Up to a certain point, art is the satisfaction of personal vanity. That is part of its nature. Nevertheless, as I get older, I find that simplicity is the most complicated and at the same times most worthwhile thing for me as an artist”. It is a beautiful juxtaposition that Lynch has enacted in many of his own projects, and you can trace it all the way back to one album.
Lynch has never been afraid to share his love of music, even throwing out his own records from time to time and always ensuring that music plays a huge part in his movie-making. “It is the great classics of rock music that inspire me. Who long ago made me want to create something of value, like they themselves did, with imagination and a sense for timelessness.” The director confirmed his point by saying, “There is a reason why these artists are love by everybody: they hit a certain spot within is, their music is so powerful and uncorrupted.”
Artists such as Jimi Hendrix, Bob Dylan, Elvis Presley and many others have all been cited as inspirational figures in Lynch’s life, but there is one artist and band who shook Lynch to his very core: Janis Joplin and Big Brother & the Holding Company. He describes witnessing the band as an “awakening experience”.
An “almost 20” Lynch saw the band’s now-iconic performance of Joplin with her band Big Brother & Holding Company at the Monterey Jazz festival and was left stunned. “The energy of this performance and Janis’ vocal power electrified me,” wrote Lynch. “Really it was like lightning flashing through my body. Since then, I have always searched for the music that triggered something like that inside of me. Most in vain.”
It is one of the finest performances not only in the tragically short career of Joplin but the entire history of rock music. While it is never possible to encapsulate the searing intensity and multiplying power of Joplin on the stage, “What comes closest is actually the first album by Big Brother & Holding Company, one of the two that they recorded with Janis.” Lynch calls it “A monolith of passion, the essence of rock ‘n’ roll. I keep it like a treasure.” The 1967 album isn’t necessarily the album that everyone points to as Joplin’s finest (usually Cheap Thrills), but it does pack some serious intensity.
Considering there aren’t many other instances of Lynch picking out particular albums or songs as his favourites, we can surely count Big Brother & the Holding Company as David Lynch’s favourite album of all time.