Tuesday, October 20, 2015

In the key of X.

With new Twin Peaks, a new Pee-Wee movie, and new X-Files on the way, sometimes I wonder if we have all found our way into some kind of parallel world where we are living an alternate 80s and 90s, but with fewer shoulder pads and parachute pants (for now). 

In college, The X-Files was the show my friends and roommates and I would gather to watch on Sunday nights. It was sort of like our church, but with aliens and conspiracies. So Scientology, I guess. A new teaser for the upcoming mini-series was just released yesterday, so it seems like a good time to revisit the music from the show's original run. 

While the show's theme is iconic and plenty of good music was featured within the episodes and films, my favorite X-Files-related music release is 1996's Songs in the Key of X. In fact, I would argue it's not just the best X-Files music release, but one of the best TV show compilations ever made. It contains some songs that were used on the show, as well as some inspired by it, and features a staggering number of my favorite musicians, like Nick Cave, Glenn Danzig, Screamin' Jay Hawkins, Frank Black, Rob Zombie dueting with Alice Cooper(!!), and Soul Coughing. 

Out of all the great music on this album, though, the song that sticks with me the most and that I always skip to first is "My Dark Life" by Elvis Costello. Costello wrote it for Songs in the Key of X and recorded it in one day in the studio with Brian Eno. It's based on a trip Costello took to Russia and the feeling of being out of place in a strange land, but just like The X-Files, its subject is enigmatic and takes a while to unfold. In Rolling Stone he said that it's one of a series of film-noir songs, featuring a mysterious recurring figure. Another article claimed Bono said the song "sounds like lounge music from Venus," and I'd say that assessment is dead-on. Dig the otherworldly grooviness:

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