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Mysteries of Love - Julee Cruise

The first time we heard the combination of David Lynch, Julee Cruise and Angelo Badalamenti (see last post) was on the soundtrack of the 1986 movie "Blue Velvet".

The song "Mysteries of Love" occurs twice in the film, the first time when the innocent but heroic protagonists Jeffrey (played by Kyle McLachlan) and Sandy (played by Laura Dern) dance together and kiss at a party. In the scene, the party fades away, and the organ and voice of Julee Cruise suffuse the film with an ecstatic religiosity, giving their love and innocence an aura of sacredness against which the dark forces in the film are pitted.

But are they, Jeffrey in particular, so innocent? Lynch is always asking whether the darkness is as much within us as outside us, as well as within the squeaky clean, churchy small town society of American myth. "Mysteries of Love" recurs in the final moments of the film, with its happy ending: the baddies are defeated, the couple appear to be married, Jeffrey is sunning himself on the lawn before strolling into a house where Sandy (now his wife?) and their respective parents and a grandmother, populate a doll's bungalow of homey rooms. Perhaps the song's sense of yearning reflects the desperate need for this to be true, that evil can be banished from our lives, that the darkness of death can be held at bay indefinitely. This is subtly undercut as they contemplate the charming image of a robin on their kitchen windowsill.

But this image isn't so charming. What is shown is clearly a fake, robotic robin, animated by stilted, mechanised movements. Earlier, Sandy recounted a dream win which thousands of robins flew up into the sky in an explosion of love and freedom. But beside being the red-breasted symbol of love, the robin, in European tradition, is also a symbol of death and resurrection; this more sinister characteristic of the bird is emphasised as the robin is eating an insect, also a symbol of death and decay, and also a recurring image in the film.

The words of the song are Lynch's:

"Sometimes a wind blows, and you and I float in love and kiss forever in a darkness, and the mysteries of love come clear and dance in light in you in me and show that we are love;

sometimes a wind blows and the mysteries of love come clear."

So, love is all we've got to fight the darkness. This is Lynch's theme, beautifully iterated by Badalamenti's music, and Cruise's vocal.

For European viewers like myself, the "Blue Velvet" robin always seemed a pretty poor representation of a robin, even if it was supposed to be visibly artificial, until one realised that the American robin is nothing like a European robin except for its red breast. It isn't even from the same family - the American robin is a sort of thrush, the European a chat, a group of much smaller birds.

On both sides of the Atlantic, they are symbols of Christmas and, of course, resurrection, the red breast evoking the blood of Jesus Christ on the cross.


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