This is one of my ten short essays about Twin Peaks Season 3. Click this link to read my introduction to this series.
At the Roadhouse, every night is Twin Peaks night. The dream fades, the band rematerialises, the episode draws to a close, and Lynch turns the camera on us for the final few minutes. Our faces are still fixed on the stage, still glued to the screen with reverent patience, waiting for one more clue before the final credits roll. The fans at home convene with the fans in the crowd, sharing in this tribute, this séance, this 18-hour vigil, this wake for a beloved television series.
The Roadhouse is a portal to Twin Peaks. This is common knowledge. That’s why the hipsters gather there, night after night, to pay tribute. That’s why the artists make the pilgrimage, with their reverb pedals and their bewitched voices and their vintage pouts. They are summoned to the Roadhouse, just like the motley ensemble that Cooper summons decades before, for the revelation of Laura’s murderer. They gather and they wait for something to happen: for the Giant to appear, or Cooper, or Audrey.
In his Pitchfork article about the music of Twin Peaks 3, Daniel Dylan Wray attempts to articulate the role of the Roadhouse performances that end almost every episode:
The scenes, and the music within them, are used as a guide back toward something resembling reality, a reassuring embrace of the familiar following the rest of the show’s deeply disturbing and bizarre images. […] [O]nce you’re in the Roadhouse, you know you’re safe—relatively speaking, at least.
Wray recognises the Roadhouse’s liminality, as a gateway or antechamber between two worlds. He too suggests that the punters in the Roadhouse are somehow closer to ‘reality’ (closer to us) than the characters whose meandering ‘stories’ their appearance punctuates. But Wray’s gloss is ultimately unsatisfactory, begging more questions than it answers: How is music supposed to guide us back to reality? Beyond the superficial ‘familiarity’ that a music writer might feel when faced with ‘real-life’ musicians ‘playing themselves’, what is so ‘reassuring’, ‘safe’ or ‘real’ about musical performance? And why would a fictional text even want to ‘guide its viewers back to reality’ in the first place?