“In Dreams” – Roy Orbison (as used in “Blue Velvet” (1986) dir. David Lynch)


Here’s the infamous scene where Dean Stockwell’s whacked-out Ben character lip-syncs to Roy Orbison’s “In Dreams” while Dennis Hopper’s equally insane Frank Booth looks on in David Lynch’s “Blue Velvet.” Stockwell allegedly came up with Ben’s “look” by reading Lynch’s script and imagining what kind of person Frank would consistently praise as being “suave.” I love the way that the otherwise aggro Frank gets very emotional while watching Ben’s performance and then about 1:14 in, abruptly starts having a psychotic break. Two brilliantly weird performances in a masterpiece of a film. I’ll watch this scene 1,000 more times than have to endure one more scene of some movie character singing Motown tunes into a hairbrush.  And would someone please send me that smoking jacket that Ben wears?


“Frank and Jesse James” – Warren Zevon


The first track from Zevon’s stunning self-titled album from 1976, produced by Jackson Browne.  Roy Orbison allegedly was going to cover the song at some point in the 1970s. The opening piano melody is also repeated during the album’s last song “Desperados Under the Eaves,” a nice way to bring continuity to a brilliant song cycle about people living desperate lives.

“Crying” from the 2001 film “Mulholland Drive” dir. David Lynch


The emotional highlight from David Lynch’s 2001 masterpiece “Mulholland Drive,” this is a cover of Roy Orbison’s “Crying” sung entirely in Spanish by Rebekah Del Rio… and it’s devastating within the context of the film.  “Blue Velvet” is my favorite Lynch film, but I have to admit that “Mulholland Drive” may actually be his best, a movie that never ceases to astonish me with its depth and meaning.