David Lynch featuring Jack Cruz, “True Love’s Flame” b/w “Dancin’ in the World of Love” (Sacred Bones)
As explained in the advance release notes, the two love songs just issued by Los Angeles filmmaker and songwriter Lynch are sung “by the primate star crooner of yesteryear, Jack Cruz.” It adds, vaguely: “Not much is known about Cruz’s career prior to his involvement with Lynch.”
What is known is that fate seemed to beget these two ballads, the first of which is featured in Lynch’s new short film, “What Did Jack Do?” The 20-minute black-and-white noir, which is available on Netflix, stars Lynch as a detective questioning Cruz, who is a talking capuchin monkey. It’s set in an interrogation room. There’s been a murder. Cruz is the lead suspect.
It’s a ridiculously tense scene, filled with oblique Lynchian dialogue between man and monkey and a plot-thickening arrival of a chicken named Tootabon. At one crucial, climactic moment, music arrives. The capuchin crooner Cruz busts, candy-colored-clown-they-call-the-sandman-style, into the wildly beguiling ballad “True Love’s Flame.”
Written by Lynch and human collaborator Dean Hurley, the torch song sounds as if it were discovered in the dusty attic of an abandoned farmhouse, with eerie, wobbly orchestral strings backing Cruz (who sounds suspiciously like Lynch). As seen in Lynch-directed classics such as “Eraserhead,” “Blue Velvet” and “Twin Peaks,” the artist’s storytelling vision is contained in a universe that has its own curious soundtrack. With a sonic distance that suggests an old wax cylinder recording, “True Love’s Flame” has the feel of a Rosetta Stone with Lynch’s realm. Sung by a monkey.
But who is Jack Cruz? A capuchin monkey, sure. A search on musical database Discogs reveals only this release, suggesting that the artist and alleged murderer either recorded under a pseudonym or is inflating his stature.
The monkey performs “True Love’s Flame” in Lynch’s film, but the sessions did generate a second recording. Called “Dancin’ in the World of Love,” the team has issued it as the B-side to a forthcoming 45 rpm single on Sacred Bones. It’s also co-written with Hurley, and at over three minutes, it’s an epic compared with the short A-side. The song is about that crucial moment in the evolution of a relationship: holding hands for the first time.
A mid-tempo, piano-driven ballad, it lives and dies through the monkey’s wobbly, occasionally creaky tone. Highly recommended for your next midnight rendezvous, the single is available through Bandcamp. In May, Lynch and Cruz will issue black and clear vinyl 45s featuring Lynch-designed art.