Music Interviews

(Soundbite of music)


David Lynch says there is a difference between mystery and confusion. His movies have been a little of both - dazzling and disturbing audiences. Hasn't made a new one in almost three years, but Mr. Lynch is constantly experimenting, and this summer he's taken the photos that accompany the images of a new music album called "Dark Night of the Soul." It's produced by Danger Mouse and Sparklehorse and features more than a dozen singers.

The images and music reverberate off each other at the Cone Gallery in Los Angeles. But David Lynch told us how he became part of the project.

Mr. DAVID LYNCH (Filmmaker): Danger Mouse came to my house and said, David, I know you don't have time to do videos, but maybe still photographs for each song. Listen to the tracks and see, you know, what comes.

(Soundbite of song, "Daddy's Gone")

Mr. LYNCH: In music, hiding in there is so much. And you just sit and listen to the tracks and these images come and you write them down. And then when they're all together, you make a plan to try to capture those on stills.

SIMON: Could we go to the sequences to the right, this kind of triptych of photos?

Mr. LYNCH: This is a…

SIMON: (Unintelligible)

Mr. LYNCH: …song called "Pain" by Iggy Pop. And there's three policemen in the front yard dealing with a gentleman who only has a t-shirt and socks and his underwear. And on his crotch is some kind of blue foaming material and it's spilling out onto his shoes. And one of the policemen has a hose, and the man seems to be in a lot of pain. And he's got…

SIMON: Blood on his face.

Mr. LYNCH: …lipstick, actually. It could be blood. To me it's lipstick. And in the distance there's two boys watching this unfold.

(Soundbite of song, "Pain")

IGGY POP (Singer): (Singing) The problem started with my attitude. It's a lust direct and crude…

Mr. LYNCH: Then the second picture is the two boys watching, and the third picture is a car driving by. And that girl in the back is giving the finger to, theoretically, this gentleman who's in trouble.

(Soundbite of song, "Pain")

IGGY POP: (Singing) Pain, pain, pain. The pain always will remain…

SIMON: May I ask: did you like some parts of the music more than others?

Mr. LYNCH: Well, you can ask that, but I…

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. LYNCH: I think this is another thing that's so beautiful about this album -Danger Mouse and Sparklehorse did the tracks. Then they would give these tracks to somebody else to do the lyrics, add into it and sing. It's like an unsaid kind of family. And I think it's a modern concept to do these collaborations and see what comes from it.

SIMON: While I have the opportunity, standing here with you, I feel obliged to ask you a question that I think a lot of people who like your movies still ask: What the hell does he mean?

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. LYNCH: Life holds many, many, many mysteries, abstract things we all think about. In a film when things get abstract, some people don't appreciate that and they want to leave the theater. Others love to dream, get lost, try to figure things out. I'm one of those people. I like a film, a story that holds concrete things but also abstractions.

So when ideas come along that have those things, I'm falling in love and going to work.

SIMON: Could you bring us to another grouping?

Mr. LYNCH: Sure. Let's see what's - this is called "Just War." I really like these photos. They're kind of more impressionistic. But when you hear the lyrics and get the mood of it, it's - and see the images, it conjures kind of a thing going in you.

(Soundbite of song, "Just War")

GRUFF RHYS (Singer, The Super Furry Animals): (Singing) Just war, you said it wouldn't hurt. Goodbye, sleep tight. 'Cause surely, is it just war?

SIMON: Let me ask for your powers of description again. We begin on the left.

Mr. LYNCH: This is a…

SIMON: A young girl…

Mr. LYNCH: …some kids playing in the backyard. The sun is still up but it's very low, so it's real warm light. The photos are long exposures. And so it makes distortions, which I love, and more room to dream.

(Soundbite of song, "Just war")

GRUFF RHYS: (Singing) …so it's just war. The last survivor crawling through the dust. But it's just war. A contribution to humankind is just a rush.

SIMON: You sang on a couple of tracks.

Mr. LYNCH: I did. Before - just before I met Danger Mouse I had started singing. So…

SIMON: You say started singing, you mean in the shower or…

Mr. LYNCH: No. I got a recording studio. I'm really into sound and more and more into music, although I'm not a musician. But here I was starting to sing. When I heard Danger Mouse was coming up, I thought in the back of my mind, no, he can't be coming up to talk about singing.

And so we finished talking about the photography and listened to some tracks. And I jokingly said to Danger Mouse, I thought you might have been come up and asked me to sing. Suddenly he says, yes, I want you to sing, I want you to sing.

(Soundbite of song, "Dark Night of the Soul")

Mr. LYNCH: (Singing) Dark dreams, all alone…

SIMON: Let me put it this way, Mr. Lynch - I mean, I like the song and I like the images - you don't exactly sound like Engelbert Humperdinck.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. LYNCH: No. We all got our own voice.

(Soundbite of laughter)

(Soundbite of song, "Dark Night of the Soul")

Mr. LYNCH: (Singing) Dark night of the soul…

SIMON: Mr. Lynch…

Mr. LYNCH: Yeah.

SIMON: …as you look around the world, what do you see that the rest of us might miss?

Mr. LYNCH: Well, I'm pretty much seeing what you all are seeing.

SIMON: How do you put it together in a way the rest of us…

Mr. LYNCH: Well, I'm not…

SIMON: …miss out on?

Mr. LYNCH: …I'm not any different than anybody else. But I do see a world, for me, that's getting better and better, not worse and worse. And I believe that world peace is coming quicker than we think. And I believe that people are, you know, not only yearning for it but will see a way to get it and, you know, help that way to come sooner. And it's going to be beautiful.

(Soundbite of music)

SIMON: David Lynch - not Engelbert Humperdinck - filmmaker, photographer, singer, and a surprising optimist. You can see some photos from the exhibit and hear the full album at

This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Scott Simon.

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