Julee Cruise: The whispery voice of David Lynch films

Julee Cruise: The whispery voice of David Lynch films
As well as providing the eerie theme song to Twin Peaks, the singer was a frequent collaborator with Lynch

Julee Cruise, a singer known for her breathy, dream-pop collaborations with director David Lynch and composer Angelo Badalamenti on the soundtracks for Blue Velvet et Twin Peaks, est mort âgé 65.

Cruise’s whispery “white angel” voice was, in essence, a character she created for Lynch and Badalamenti for the song “Mysteries of Love”. When the director couldn’t license “Song to the Siren” by This Mortal Coil for his 1986 film Blue Velvet, he jotted down his own ethereal lyrics on a napkin and charged Badalamenti with finding a vocalist.

Badalamenti and Cruise had met years earlier in a country-themed musical he wrote for a production in the East Village of Manhattan.

“I was a chorus girl with a big skirt and a big wig, singing way too loud,” she recalled in a 1990 interview with the Chronique de San Francisco.

He asked her for referrals, “but he didn’t like any of the singers I recommended. He wanted dreamy and romantic. I said, ‘let me do it’.”

“Mysteries of Love” accompanied the innocent courtship between Jeffrey (Kyle MacLachlan) and Sandy (Laura Dern) amid the depravity of Blue Velvet, and it crystallised a musical aesthetic that Lynch would maintain for years. He liked Cruise’s voice so much that he signed a record contract with her and produced her 1989 album Floating Into the Night.

“David doesn’t know how to talk in musical terms, so he talked to me like he was directing a film,” Cruise told the Los Angeles Times when the album came out. “He’d say things like, ‘really sad, Julee, make it just rip your heart out!’ Or ‘you’re singing into a void and feel sad but not hopeless.’ His music is different from his films. He’s much more tender and intimate in his music – it’s as if he’s whispering a secret to you in his songs.”

Clare Nina Norelli, author of the book Soundtrack From Twin Peaks, Raconté Le gardien dans 2017: “Julee Cruise was a muse figure in that collaboration. There’s always a duality in [Lynch’s] films and she was a living embodiment of that Lynchian innocence.”

Cruise was, by nature, a Broadway belter. But she took Lynch’s lyrics and direction and, carried by the gentle synthesiser rivers and doo-wop aesthetic of Badalamenti’s music, became an uber-earnest pixie who symbolised Lynch’s obsession with the pop art from his childhood.

In his review of the album, Le Washington Post’s Joe Brown described her voice as that “of a chiffon-draped ghost of a girl group” and said it was “most beguiling when heard late at night, alone or not”.

Floating Into the Night mostly evaporated upon release in 1989, and Cruise resumed waiting tables. Then Lynch used an instrumental of the song “Falling” as the theme for Twin Peaks dans 1990 and cast her in the pilot as a singer in the central roadhouse bar – and she became famous. “Falling” went to No 11 on the Billboard chart, and the album entered the Top 100.

Among the many fans was David Bowie, who “would put Floating Into the Night on almost every night as ‘dinner music’,” Bowie’s son, Duncan Jones, tweeted this week. “A staple.”

Three songs featuring Cruise were included on the 1990 Twin Peaks soundtrack album, which went to No 22 on the Billboard chart and was a hit around the world. When Sinead O’Connor dropped out of Saturday Night Live en mai 1990 because of opposition to the episode’s host – Andrew Dice Clay – Cruise was invited to sub and performed “Falling”.

“The music was strange,” Cruise said on The Red Room Podcast dans 2018. “It wasn’t Fifties, and it wasn’t Nineties. And what was it? Tu sais, it was something really cool and different.”

<p>Cruise with Lynch, la gauche, and Badalamenti plt;/p>

Cruise with Lynch, la gauche, and Badalamenti

Her second album with Lynch and Badalamenti, The Voice of Love (1993), was a flop much like the attendant Twin Peaks préquelle, Fire Walk With Me.

“Second-album syndrome is the worst,” Cruise said in 2018. “LA is a lot like London. Tu sais, they get sick of things real quick, and they got sick of Twin Peaks real quick. And everyone ran.”

She joined the B52s, replacing Cindy Wilson as lead singer in 1992 et 1993. Ten years later she released a new album, The Art of Being a Girl, which departed from the dream-pop sound and showcased her more full-bodied warble, as did My Secret Life dans 2011.

A trained actress, she played Petra in Stephen Sondheim’s A Little Night Music in Wichita in the early Eighties, and Janis Joplin in the off-Broadway musical Beehive. Dans 2003, she played Andy Warhol and several other characters in the musical Radiant Baby à New York.

Her fame was forever confined to the Lynch projects, but those wispy songs had a major effect on several artists. Cruise could hear her influence reflected in Lana Del Rey and other singers, and she told Pierre roulante dans 2014: “They sing like sexy baby girls.”

Julee Ann Cruise was born 1 décembre 1956, in Creston, Iowa. Her father was a dentist and an amateur pilot.

She majored in French horn performance at Drake University in Des Moines. After graduating, she acted in children’s theatre in Minneapolis. She moved to New York around 1983 and studied acting with William H Macy.

Cruise said her Lynch angel character was all musical theatre. Her true personality was spunky, earthy and self-deprecating. She had doubts about the first album, Floating in the Night, and remembered taking it home for Christmas “and everyone in my family hated it”, she said in 2014. “They were like, ‘what are you singing about?’ One of my lawyers at the time said, ‘this is a novelty.’ I said, ‘like Tiny Tim?'"

She was uncomfortable with the onslaught of celebrity and with public performance – she would often vomit before taking the stage. She had to contend with stalkers and hated when Twin Peaks fans told her she was the soundtrack of their life.

“I don’t want that responsibility," elle a dit fourche dans 2018.

She suffered from lupus for decades, and consequently lost her hair and “had the bones of an 85-year-old woman at 33,” she said. She also battled “depression and alcohol and drug addiction”, her husband Edward Grinnan told NPR.

Survivors include Grinnan, her husband since 1988 and editor in chief at the non-profit organisation Guideposts, and a sister.

Like her father, Cruise had a pilot’s licence.

“My dad used to take us up to the Arctic Circle in his plane when I was little," elle a dit fourche. “He died when he was 51. That night he passed, I flew by myself up to Minneapolis in my Piper Cub that Dad gave me. We have our own great graveyard there.”

Julee Cruise, singer and actor, née 1 décembre 1956, décédés 9 juin 2022

© Le Washington Post

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