Julee Cruise, whispering voice of David Lynch films, dies at 65

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Julee Cruise, a singer known for her dreamy and breathless pop collaborations with director David Lynch and composer Angelo Badalamenti on the soundtracks to “Blue Velvet” and “Twin Peaks,” died June 9 in Pittsfield, Mass. She was 65 years old.

The cause was suicide, according to her husband Edward Grinnan, who first posted the news on Facebook.

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

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

“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 San Francisco Chronicle.

He asked him for references, “but he didn’t like any of the singers I recommended. He wanted to be dreamy and romantic. I said, ‘Leave it to me.’ ”

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

“David can’t speak in musical terms, so he spoke to me like he was directing a movie,” Ms. Cruise told the Los Angeles Times when the album was released. “He would say things like, ‘Really sad, Julee, make your heart rip out!’ Or, ‘You sing in the void and you feel sad but not hopeless.’ His music is different from his movies, he’s much more tender and intimate in his music, it’s like he’s whispering a secret to you in his songs.

Clare Nina Norelli, author of the book ‘Soundtrack From Twin Peaks’, told the Guardian in 2017, “Julee Cruise was a muse figure in this collaboration. There is always a duality in [Lynch’s] movies and she was a living embodiment of that Lynchian innocence.

Ms. Cruise was, by nature, a Broadway belt. But she took Lynch’s lyrics and direction and, carried by the smooth rivers of synthesizer and doo-wop aesthetic of Badalamenti’s music, became a very serious pixie who symbolized Lynch’s obsession with pop art. since his childhood.

In his review of the album, Joe Brown of The Washington Post described her voice as that of “a muslin-draped ghost of a girl band” and said it was “most alluring when heard late in the night, alone or not”.

“Floating Into the Night” largely evaporated upon its release in 1989, and Ms. Cruise took over the waiting tables. Then Lynch used an instrumental from the song “Falling” as the theme to “Twin Peaks” in 1990 and cast her in the pilot as a singer in the central road bar – and she shot to fame. “Falling” went to No. 11 on the Billboard chart and the album entered the Top 100.

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

Three songs featuring Ms. Cruise were included on the 1990 “Twin Peaks” soundtrack album, which went to No. 22 on the Billboard chart and was a worldwide hit. When Sinead O’Connor dropped ‘Saturday Night Live’ in May 1990 due to opposition from the episode’s host – Andrew Dice Clay – Ms. Cruise was asked to perform ‘Falling’.

“The music was weird,” Ms. Cruise said on The Red Room podcast in 2018. “It wasn’t the 50s, it wasn’t the 90s. was something really cool and different.

His second album with Lynch and Badalamenti, ‘The Voice of Love’ (1993), was a flop much like the ‘Twin Peaks’ prequel, ‘Fire Walk With Me’.

“Second album syndrome is the worst,” Ms. Cruise said in 2018. “LA is a lot like London. You know, they get sick of stuff real quick, and they get sick of ‘Twin Peaks’ real quick. And everyone ran.

She joined the B52s, replacing Cindy Wilson as lead singer in 1992 and 1993. Twenty years later, she released a new album, “The Art of Being a Girl”, which departed from the dream pop sound and featured its fuller-bodied twitter, just like “My Secret Life” in 2011.

A trained actress, she played Petra in Stephen Sondheim’s “A Little Night Music” in Wichita in the early 1980s, and Janis Joplin in the off-Broadway musical “Beehive.” In 2003, she played Andy Warhol and several other characters in the musical “Radiant Baby” in New York.

His fame has always been confined to Lynch projects, but these wispy songs have had a major effect on several artists. Ms. Cruise could hear her influence reflected in Lana Del Rey and other singers, telling Rolling Stone in 2014: “They sing like sexy baby girls.”

Julee Ann Cruise was born on December 1, 1956 in Creston, Iowa. His father was a dentist and amateur pilot.

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

Ms Cruise said her Lynch angel persona was just musical theatre. His true personality was brave, earthy, and self-deprecating. She had her doubts about the debut album, “Floating in the Night,” and remembers bringing it home for Christmas “and everyone in my family hated it,” she said in 2014.” They were like, ‘What are you singing? One of my lawyers at the time said to me, “It’s a novelty. I said, ‘Like Tiny Tim?’ “

She was uncomfortable with the onslaught of fame and with public performances – she often vomited before going on stage. She had to deal with bullies and hated when “Twin Peaks” fans told her she was the soundtrack of their lives.

“I don’t want that responsibility,” she told Pitchfork in 2018.

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

Survivors include Grinnan, her husband since 1988 and editor of the nonprofit Guideposts; and a sister.

Like her father, Ms. Cruise had a pilot’s license.

“My dad used to fly us all the way to the Arctic Circle on his plane when I was little,” she told Pitchfork. “He died when he was 51. That night he passed away, I flew to Minneapolis alone in my Piper Cub that Dad gave me. We have our own big cemetery there.


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