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David Lynch Still Loves Elizabeth Fraser’s This Mortal Coil Rendition Of “Song To The Siren”

Should I stand amid the breakers?
Or should I lie with death, my bride?
Hear me sing, “Swim to me, swim to me, let me enfold you
Here I am, here I am, waiting to hold you”

After all these years, David Lynch still carries a torch for Elizabeth Fraser’s haunting rendition of Song To The Siren with 4AD’s all-star project, This Mortal Coil.

On the 25th of November 2020, Lynch broadcast his daily weather report. There were early morning clouds and a temperature of around 48F (9C), and a sudden tribute to one of his all-time favourite tunes.

“Elizabeth Fraser just does this thing so beautifully,” he remarks. “One of the greats.”

There is a back story to Lynch’s history with the song. During the production of Blue Velvet, Lynch hoped to feature Cocteau Twins performing Tim Buckley’s Song To The Siren, their contribution to This Mortal Coil, Fraser’s haunting, ethereal vocals bring the song to stunning new heights; it is an ardent prayer, a mantra, in her interpretation. She has, to her embarrassment, been referred to as “the voice of God.”

It is a track that straddles the veil between dimensions at times. No wonder Tim’s son, Jeff Buckley, heeded the Siren’s literal call. The two had a brief but intense relationship following her departure from both Robin Guthrie and The Cocteau Twins. The lyric about a tempestuous sea would become all the more poignant following the tragic drowning death of Jeff. (Fraser wrote the song “Rilkean Heart” about Jeff, and dedicated the Massive Attack song “Teardrop” to him.)

Unfortunately, a deal could not be made – in a 2014 Post-Punk.com interview, Robin Guthrie acknowledged regretfully that a lack of finances prevented Lynch from the ability to license the tune for Blue Velvet.

“He actually asked me and Liz to be in the film,” said Guthrie, “…But it all got blown up because Ivo at 4AD, I guess he was in control of the This Mortal Coil project and he just asked for way too much money…I regret that because that would have been really cool to be in a David Lynch film, wouldn’t it! You know, that would have been quite a thing to tell your grandchildren.”

Fortunately, a decade later, Lynch finally secured the funds to use Song to the Siren for the Lost Highway soundtrack, bookmarking key events in the film.

In case you were wondering, the weather was due for a spike in temperature later in the afternoon. Lynch also hoped for some blue skies and golden sunshine. And also according to Welcome to Twin Peaks, Lynch is following up his short film What Did Jack Do?, with a new series for Netflix that has the working title Wisteria.

Alice Teeple

Alice Teeple is a photographer, multidisciplinary artist, and writer. She is not in Tin Machine.

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