Trying to pin down David Lynch is a difficult thing to do. Like a zombie butterfly, he refuses to be categorised and labelled, rejecting any attempt to hold him in a position he feels uncomfortable in — that’s his job, after all. The director has always pushed himself to think outside of the box and demand artistic integrity always be upheld during the process. It’s an inspirational way of working and one that has garnered Lynch a plethora of fervent fans — but where does Lynch seek his inspiration?
Like so many gifted artists, it, of course, is from a variety of sources. But one font of ideas for the director comes directly from music. Known for his own dalliance with pop music, Lynch has often flirted with the idea of fully embracing the chaos of being a full-time musician. Instead, he’s kept things simple and made sure that music is intricately woven through his films. Like any real muso, Lynch’s list of ‘favourite songs’ probably changes with the tide, but that doesn’t mean we can’t try.
Across a host of different interviews from the years, as well as noting the songs used within his films and TV series, we’ve managed to collate an impressive list of the director’s favourite songs of all time.
Some of the songs included are taken from his Twin Peaks days, even informing his writing style or featuring within his work. One song, in particular, became an integral part of the show’s return, Otis Redding’s ‘I’ve Been Loving You Too Long’ but it was connected to his adoration for the Monterey Pop Festival in 1967.
Speaking with Pitchfork, Lynch revealed: “There was Janis Joplin with Big Brother and the Holding Company doing ‘Ball and Chain,’ Jimi Hendrix’s ‘Wild Thing,’ and there was Otis Redding. When I hear those three things, it just drives me crazy how great they are.”
Adding: “With Otis Redding, we reach this place in him, and I just couldn’t believe that version. It was so, so, so beautiful. So much feeling comes through that thing; it’s one of my all-time favourites. I just go nuts. I start crying like a baby when I hear that thing.” Lynch has also noted how incredible he believes artist Lissie to be, including her song ‘Wild West’ in The Return. “Lissie was definitely one of the acts that David wanted to be involved from the beginning,” the show’s music supervisor, Dean Hurley, tells DJ Morgan at KEXP. “He’s been a big fan of hers for years and discovered her by a series of videos she posted on YouTube covering Lady Gaga, Metallica, etc.”
Many of the songs featured in the list and corresponding playlist come from Lynch’s conversation with BBC 6 music’s Matt Everitt as part of the short ‘The First Time With’, which asks celebrities to look back on their formative years in music. For Lynch, he hangs on the brilliance of golden oldies like Buddy Holly’s classic ‘Peggy Sue’ as well as Roy Orbison’s shimmering beauty, ‘My Prayer’. But there was also nods to the avant-garde experimentations one would perhaps more easily associate with Lynch.
Artists such as Pixies, Björk and David Bowie, with whom Lynch worked on Walk in the Fire with are all mentioned as serial sources of inspiration for the director. The show also saw Lynch profess his love for Depeche Mode, which may come as a slight surprise for fans. One artist that won’t be a surprise is Bob Dylan. Lynch has never been afraid to share his love for the iconic songwriter and even covered his song ‘The Ballad of Hollis Brown’ on his record The Big Dream.
Below, we’ve gathered up a host of different songs, either mentioned in interviews as his favourite or implanted within his cinematic work, to create a collection of David Lynch’s favourite songs of all time. It makes for a killer playlist.
David Lynch’s favourite songs:
- The Platters – ‘My Prayer’
- Paris Sisters – ‘I Love How You Love Me’
- Booker T &The M.G’s – ‘Green Onions’
- Otis Redding – ‘I’ve Been Loving You Too Long
- Big Brother and The Holding Company – ‘Ball and Chain’
- Jimi Hendrix – ‘Wild Thing’
- TV on the Radio – ‘Second Song’
- Chris Isaak – ‘Wicked Game’
- Laura Marling – ‘Soothing’
- Ringo Starr – ‘Photograph’
- Roy Orbison – ‘My Prayer’
- Buddy Holly – ‘Peggy Sue’
- Elvis Presley – ‘Baby What You Want Me To Do’
- Pixies – ‘In Heaven’
- David Bowie – ‘I’m Deranged’
- Neil Young – ‘Love and War’
- Björk -‘Hyperballad’
- Depeche Mode – ‘Stripped’
- Lissie – ‘Wild West’
- Bob Dylan – ‘The Ballad of Hollis Brown’