David Lynch’s ‘Industrial Symphony No.1’ Still Haunts

“It has something to do with, uh, a relationship ending,” said the ever-shadowy David Lynch on the interpretation of his 1989 musical performance Industrial Symphony No. 1: The Dream of the Broken Hearted. Originally conceived while studying at the Pennsylvania Acadamy of Fine Arts when Lynch was making series of complex mosaics in geometric shapes called “Industrial Symphonies,” years later he spun that original idea into a feverish amalgamation of sound effects and music onstage.

Premiering at BAM in November 0f 1989, the avant-garde musical play featured a cast of Laura Dern, Nicolas Cage, Julee Cruise, and Michael J. Anderson with music by Lynch’s musical companion—the man whose melodies have become synonymous with the Lynchian universe—Angelo Badalamenti. Cage plays the Heartbreaker to Dern’s Heartbroken Woman as Industrial Symphony No. 1 floats from their initial sever to a hallucinatory dream that the she has.
 
Unfolding like a nightmarish dream somewhere between the abandoned factories of Eraserhead and the Black and White Lodge of his future Twin Peaks, Cruise descends from the ceiling as lights flicker and flare like schizophrenic clues that we’re being transported somewhere beyond. As we noted in our Cinematic Panic article on Eraserhead, Lynch’s affinity for the stage has swelled throughout his films from the inside out:
The act of the performance also makes its way into the majority of his work, perhaps perfected in Mulholland Drive’s Club Silencio scene when Rebecca del Rio sings (or does not sing) a frighteningly beautiful a cappella version of Roy Orbison’s "Crying" that echoes the entire sentiment of the film. And just as the Lady in the Radiator sings "In Heaven Everything Is Fine," Dean Stockwell’s performance of "In Dreams" in Blue Velvet simultaneously takes us out of the world of the characters in the film and allows us to become more entrenched in their own psychological journey. The staged performance speaks to who we are inside the deepest caverns of our mind and who we are to the world, who we present and tell ourselves we are, and what’s really looming just beneath.
The song list for the show includes:
  • Up In Flames
  • I Float Alone
  • The Black Sea*
  • Into the Night
  • I’m Hurt Bad*
  • Pinky’s Bubble Egg (The Twins Spoke)
  • The Dream Conversation*
  • Rockin’ Back Inside My Heart
  • The Final Battle*
  • The World Spins
If you haven’t absorbed yourself into this yet, I’d suggest doing so right away below.
 

 

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