Angelo Badalamenti
The Straight Story


4.0
excellent

Review

by DoofusWainwright CONTRIBUTOR (61 Reviews)
March 3rd, 2016 | 17 replies


Release Date: 1999 | Tracklist

Review Summary: In Heaven Everything is Sunshine

My early twenties were a limbo period of uncertainty and gnawing anxiety, living back at the family home holding down what I hoped would be just a short stop-gap job to tide me over until life kicked on in earnest. In many ways it was idyllic, with plenty of money and a huge amount of time on my hands the days flowed by pleasantly enough, but it was the nighttime when my subconscious would choose to land its blows; I'd have a recurring dream based around a local bar, a place I'm still yet to step inside to this day, and the only thing I really knew about the place was that it changed hands a lot. The strange part of this dream was that I always transported the bar to the same imagined small American rural town surrounded by farmland; I owned the place and my friends would come in to drink or play music, there was a pool in the back, a classic jukebox on the wall, and everything seemed honest and bright.

This dream was something I'd largely forgotten about until a few years later when I came to watch David Lynch's 1999 movie 'The Straight Story'; a whimsical tale of an old timer making one last journey to visit his dying brother via the only means of transportation available to him, his ride on mower. As much as I enjoyed the film on its own merits what struck me the most were the scenes of the rolling farmland and the music accompanying it. It took me back to my recurring dream instantly and encouraged me to do something I'd never done before; purchase a traditional soundtrack album.

I already knew of Angelo Badalamenti's work from 'The Lost Highway', 'Blue Velvet' and 'Twin Peaks' but until now I'd never been compelled to listen to his compositions outside of the context of watching Lynch's stories and visuals at the same time. The two have always worked in perfect tandem, as attested by the length of their collaboration which has ended up stretching across three separate decades. Badalamenti is best known for his uncanny knack of imbuing these scores with a sense of dreamlike nostalgia that's then coupled with mysterious dark undertones that skirt just shy of hamminess. 'The Straight Story' is typical in it's adoption of the nostalgic element, here given a unique pastoral sheen, but where it differs from his other work is in the replacement of its usual darkness with a more gentle underlying sadness.

The crystalline guitar pieces 'Rose's Theme', 'Sprinkler' and 'Country Theme' punctuate the soundtrack with moments of reflective beauty while the sombre strings of 'Final Miles' and 'Crystal' adhere to what you'd expect from a melancholic film score, ending up in more classical territory. Badalamenti is famous for his use of synths and it's no surprise they make a few appearances here; the opening 'Lauren, Iowa' is the most typical of his characteristic style and faintly reminiscent of his 'Twin Peaks' work; while 'Nostalgia' sounds exactly as you'd expect from the title, the music faded and one step removed from its neighbours.

As good as the aforementioned material is its the remainder of the album that sees Angelo breaking new ground and are the tracks that'll remind the listener most of the film. 'Laurens Walking' is simply sublime, the timeless combination of violin, guitar and fiddle making for something inescapably evocative. The same instrumentation returns on 'Alvin's Theme', the intro mimicking an old locomotive and conjuring images of an engine chugging along through sun drenched countryside. A third gem arrives in the form of the straightforward 'Country Waltz', a lilting happy-sad composition that in just three minutes embodies the mood of Lynch's entire film.

Whenever I look out at golden fields of crops on a sunny day I invariably think back to this soundtrack and my recurring dream, sometimes also reflecting on the fact that the late Charles Bukowski's favourite colour was yellow; his final novel 'Pulp' signed off with the image of 'a vast yellow vortex, more dynamic than the sun' enveloping the lead character as life drained out of him. As the years go past I'm inclined to agree with the Buk's choice, how much more reassuring to disappear into a flood of burning yellow rather than moving towards a distant and blinding brilliant white light. Needless to say in that particular scenario my imagined perfect soundtrack would be Badalamenti's 'Straight Story', as warming and comforting as fading sunshine.



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user ratings (10)
Chart.
3.9
excellent

Comments:Add a Comment 
DoofusWainwright
Contributing Reviewer
March 3rd 2016


7502 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Sorry Sputulace, another of my 'I can't logically argue or intellectualise why I like this' reviews (similar to my Mercury Rev one)

Digging: The Psychedelic Furs - Talk Talk Talk

Mort.
March 3rd 2016


11192 Comments


great review doof, the personal touch does wonders

Digging: A Sight for Sewn Eyes - Alone Together

DoofusWainwright
Contributing Reviewer
March 3rd 2016


7502 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Thanks Mort



You know I'm really hoping someone comes on this thread and recommends something else that sounds similar to this

anatelier
March 3rd 2016


801 Comments


Beautiful final paragraph.

theBoneyKing
March 3rd 2016


3677 Comments


Fantastic review Doof, I really like the personal touch.

Digging: Talk Talk - Spirit of Eden

DoofusWainwright
Contributing Reviewer
March 3rd 2016


7502 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Cheers all, I rushed this out a bit I'll admit.



Pleased y'all liked the personal slant, some albums it just has to be that way for me. I know reviewers are encouraged not to go that route on sput but I actually wish there were more personal reviews here. The connections people make with music aren't always slave to logic or even taste.

Atari
Staff Reviewer
March 3rd 2016


21825 Comments


cool review

Digging: Bayside - Vacancy

hal1ax
March 3rd 2016


4118 Comments


I like this review. I also like this guys work on twin peaks so I will check this out

DoofusWainwright
Contributing Reviewer
March 3rd 2016


7502 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Laurens Walking > Twin Peaks main theme



I serious

zakalwe
March 3rd 2016


17707 Comments


We are going to that bar doof son.

Digging: Autolux - Pussy's Dead

Mort.
March 3rd 2016


11192 Comments


Personal reviews are way more interesting tbh as long as they still give some insight into the album

Voivod
Staff Reviewer
March 3rd 2016


7153 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Awesome movie, and I remember liking the film score too.

DoofusWainwright
Contributing Reviewer
March 4th 2016


7502 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Zak I left out that the bar changed hands again about four years ago...and is now a late night bar and Indian restaurant.



Would now have to be a few pints of Kingfisher and a lamb bhuna



That news didn't really fit the review narrative :D

DoofusWainwright
Contributing Reviewer
March 4th 2016


7502 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Thanks Voivod, film is a minor classic

zakalwe
March 4th 2016


17707 Comments


Cobra >

Regarding the film it's one on my 'must see' list. The father in law absolutley loves it.

DoofusWainwright
Contributing Reviewer
March 4th 2016


7502 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

The film was produced by Disney so for that alone (Lynch working for the Magic Kingdom?!?) it's an interesting one



Alvin's conversation with the war vet in the bar and his feelings about getting old he expresses to the cyclists who sped past him on the road - classic stuff

Mort.
March 4th 2016


11192 Comments


And now i want a fucking curry



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