Arguably the most iconic directorial auteurs of his generation, David Lynch has put his unique and unadulterated style on every project he has ever faced. From TV and film to commercials, everything he touches is distinctly Lynchian.
Though his main field of excellence is behind the camera, Lynch has also possessed the mark of a true artist and felt the desire to get in front of the camera too, perhaps satisfying a penchant for personal pride. That said, Lynch’s inspiration to capture art as a point of personal pride stemmed not from his love of film but music.
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”.
In the same piece, Lynch speaks of the album that changed his life and arguably set him on the path towards the hallowed ground of commercial success and artistic credibility. It was music that pushed him towards the icons of Elvis Presley, Jimi Hendrix, Otis Redding and the unstoppable Janis Joplin.
“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.”
Lynch goes on to explain that while he wanted to be Elvis when he was a kid, “primarily concerning his looks and style,” it was the unfathomable spirit of Big Brother & The Holding Company and most notably their singer Janis Joplin that really grabbed his attention as a teen.
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’s hard to capture the sheer stunning brilliance of prime-Janis Joplin at the top of her game at the Monterey Jazz festival but it would seem the band’s first record goes a long way to inspire him still, “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.”
Watch below that first electrifying performance and find the stream of the full record below that.