Like all rational people we here at The Flyover believe Twin Peaks to the single greatest work of art in the history of mankind, not least of which because David Lynch and Mark Frost’s surreal small town murder mystery (due for a Showtime revival in 2016) is set in a vibrant and distinct locale that is not New York or Los Angeles. The series’ influence is apparent in virtually every great show oft-referenced in “Golden Age of Television” think pieces littering the internet, but plenty of others have written about that already. What we’re concerned about here is a sincerer indicator of canonization: imitation. In this series of posts we’ll be examining the many Twin Peaks rip-offs, across all media, that appeared in the groundbreaking show’s wake, eventually to be compiled into one definitive ranking.
Please note that the term “rip-off” is used (for the most part) affectionately, so don’t get your panties (or cherry stem) in a twist. Make your own suggestions or tell us how wrong or right you think we are in the comments if you feel like it.
“NOWHERE NEAR” (Yo La Tengo song, 1993)
Here’s another piece of music that apes Twin Peaks’s iconic soundtrack. “Nowhere Near,” couched modestly in the middle of Yo La Tengo’s 1993 album Painful, could be called a “spiritual cover” of Twin Peaks’ “Falling” theme, matching the song not note for note but gesture for gesture. There’s the twangy Duane Eddy guitar riff, eerie organs, the plodding, machine-like pace punctuated by the occasional spare percussion of a tambourine. Like Lynch’s lyrics for Julee Cruise’s Floating Into The Night, the lyrics of “Nowhere Near” are nothing more than prosaic pop banalities (“Do you know how I feel / How I feel around you / Do know this is real / How I feel around you”), yet they transcend facile cliché through the sheer excess of emotion in the music—classic 50s/60s pop slowed down and drenched in reverb until its dreaminess has become syrupy and vaguely sinister. Georgia Hubley’s voice is earthier than Cruise’s but perfectly appropriate, especially when the drums kick in more than halfway through the song and you realize that it’s actually a decelerated 4-chord frat rock tune. Twin Peaks was perhaps the first great metatextual TV series, a smart pop mystery built on a bedrock of soap opera clichés and the detritus of almost 50 years of televised culture, and its soundtrack is similarly referential, taking cues from a diverse assortment of influences like Mancini, Krautrock, early rock ‘n’ roll, and more. (See this excellent blog post by Tym Stevens for more on Peaks’s musical legacy.) “Nowhere Near” is a similarly impressive distillation of pop music history.
TENTATIVE RANKING: Upper Tier