David Lynch’s Twin Peaks: From Cult to The King

Iowa collectors explore movies, music, and books … physically.

Bryon Dudley/Iowa Informer

It’s the 30th anniversary of the debut of the celebrated TV show Twin Peaks, of which I’m a huge fan, so this edition of Physical Media is dedicated to Twin Peaks.

I recall seeing the very first episode on regular old network TV, and it was very, very distinctly unlike any other show that had existed before. Virtually every article I’ve read about the show includes a description of it as a “cult” viewership, but it felt like a phenomenon almost immediately, and has impacted popular culture immensely. And it’s tough to see much “cult” about it, when one of the fan celebrations this year is taking place at Graceland, Elvis’s home.

I’ve managed to collect a few fun items related to the show over the years, some of which are pretty rare at this point:

A — The Twin Peaks soundtrack. To my mind, this is the best television soundtrack ever. I have a cassette tape copy of it I got when it came out, but this is a vinyl reissue that came out just last year. Angelo Badalamenti’s music is a key ingredient to the show’s overall feel and vibe, and it’s utterly timeless; it’s 30 years old and still sounds like it’s from the future.

B — A fun tie-in to the show, the cassette “Diane…”: The Twin Peaks Tapes of Agent Cooper was released in 1990, and has Kyle MacLachlan as Special Agent Dale Cooper, talking to the fictional “Diane” as he does on the show, usually into a microcassette recorder. Long out of print, the tape was recently offered as audiobook on Audible. MacLachlan was nominated for a Grammy for his performance, in the spoken word album category. You can also listen to it for free on Youtube.

C — Industrial Symphony No. 1: The Dream of the Broken-Hearted is a VHS tape that isn’t technically a Twin Peaks tie-in, but it features Julee Cruise (who sang many of the songs on the show), is directed by David Lynch, came out in 1990, and also stars Michael Anderson, who played The Man From Another Place on the show and in the film Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me, so I think it’s okay to count it here. With Twin Peaks mania taking over the country, Lynch decided to put out this decidedly avant-garde play with music in it. The video also features Lynch staples Nicolas Cage and Laura Dern. The play is mostly a hallucinatory dream, but if you’re a diehard Lynch fan, you’ll feel right at home. Also long out of print, you can watch it here:

D — The Secret History of Twin Peaks is another fun tie-in to the show, literally giving you the history of the foundation of the town, leading right up to the murder of Laura Palmer. Series creator Mark Frost wrote the novel, which plays out in the form of a discovered dossier. Not really advancing the overall story much, the book is primarily for the hardcore fan, but it’s beautifully presented, and it does weave some new threads into the complex tapestry that is the world of Twin Peaks.

Bryon Dudley
Bryon Dudley is a writer and musician from Ames. He has written about music and other topics for a number of local publications and blogs. When not playing music and putting out albums with groups such as Strong Like Bear, Liana, and Rockets of Desire, he is helping other Iowa artists record their music at his studio, The Spacement, and releasing it on the Iowa label he co-founded, Nova Labs. He has a tattoo of an aardvark and is adjusting to bifocals.