For filmmaker, painter, author and, more recently, recording artist David Lynch, there are a lot of common threadsconnecting the art forms through which he expresses himself.
The making of an album, which Lynch explores in a new video premiering exclusively on Pop & Hiss, typically doesn’t involve the cast-and-crew-of-thousands approach typical of filmmaking, while creating painting is by and large a solitary undertaking. But the execution of each has overlapping facets.
“I’m a painter, and I like my paintings to have little stories, and music is sort of the same way,” the 67-year-old writer and director said ahead of the July 16 release of his second album, “The Big Dream.” “It could be just a scene, or a short little story. Because music, even with lyrics, is an abstract medium, people can come up with their own images and feelings based on the song, and their story and characters.”
Lynch has demonstrated no shortage of evocative images and feelings of his own to inject in such watershed films as “Eraserhead,” “Blue Velvet,” “Wild at Heart” and “Mulholland Drive,” or for his ground-breaking network TV series “Twin Peaks.”
All those creations also used music as integral parts of the overall experience of examining the extremes of human interactions.
“In a way they’re very similar,” he said of the experience of making films and music. “You can have a thrill seeing your dailies and seeing what you’ve shot, but it’s a long way from a finished scene. You can have a thrill finding a jam, in which one thing leads to another. But then it’s a long way from when the whole thing comes together in our minds and feels correct.”
Beginning in 2011 with his album “Crazy Clown Time,” Lynch has more deeply delved into writing and performing music, along with his collaborator Big Dean Hurley, with whom he’s teamed again for “The Big Dream.” The new album, like its predecessor, involves as much perspiration as inspiration, in that Lynch and Hurley develop their songs out of spontaneous jams, which they then extensively hone, edit and rework into finished tracks.
An album, Lynch still believes, can create a journey for the listener. “I guess with every album you want to bring people into that world.”
“The Big Dream” opens with the title track, a meditative and uplifting message of love and unity. It moves through the surrealism of “Last Call” (“I catch a Bob kitchen / I fly a Dan garage”) to the romantic fatalism of “Cold Wind Blowin’” to a surprising — to some, perhaps — rendition of Bob Dylan’s haunting treatise on sociopolitical inequity, “The Ballad of Hollis Brown.” There’s even an out-and-out love song, “I Want You,” borrowing a title previously used not only by Dylan but by John Lennon too.
Lynch plays guitar, writes the lyrics and sings; Hurley builds out the tracks with percussion, keyboards, loops and processing effects applied to Lynch’s vocals, which sometimes sound like they’re being squeezed through the wires of distant telephone lines, or sent through a bullhorn.
Again, the intersection of music, filmmaking and painting come to the surface.
“It all connects to the world of ideas,” Lynch said. “I always say the same thing: Everything starts with an idea. I may have an idea for a different chord progression, or a beat. Dean comes up with the beat. There are certain sounds you make with a guitar, and it can start with that. But you’re always starting with some kind of idea. In painting you get what you call painting ideas. You catch an idea you really love, and it’s instilled with so much inspiration, it makes you leap out of the chair and go toward it.
“But it’s always a process,” he said. “In cinema, the process takes place more in the script. You’ve got action, and then reaction, trying this, moving that, until you get a complete set of ideas in motion.”
Lynch himself always seems to be in motion, especially in regard to his nonprofit David Lynch Foundation, which he established in 2005 to bring the practice of transcendental meditation to a broader audience.
“The David Lynch Foundation is going so well I can’t tell you,” he said. “There are programs in schools where students are meditation, teachers are meditating, principals are meditating, and some of the worst schools are turned around in a year. Students’ grades are coming up, teachers are not getting burned out and love teaching again.”
“It’s growing — not quite exponentially yet, but it’s really growing fast. There’s a real need, and more and more people are shpwing receptivity, they’re getting past all the misunderstandings about meditation. It’s not a religion, it’s a technique; it’s not a sect or a cult, it’s a technique for human beings to use.”
As for the music that fires Lynch’s imagination lately, he said, “You might be surprised. I love ‘Blood on the Leaves’ by Kanye West. I just love it. I love James Blake. I love ZZ Top’s new album -- but you’d figure that. There’s a lot of great music out there. It’s all kind of inspiring.
“I think for me and Dean a lot of the stuff is based on music way back when, starting with the electric blues,” said Lynch, who as a guitarist said he’s been most enamored of “Jimi Hendrix, Billy Gibbons, David Gilmour. There’s so many people. Mark Knopfler, Stevie Ray Vaughan, John Lee Hooker and all those blues guys. They’re so tasty. I just love the electric guitar and Hendrix did things with it that just thrill me.”
Follow Randy Lewis on Twitter: @RandyLewis2