Perry Mason, Captain Beefheart, and 11 Other Pieces of Pop Culture That David Lynch Loves

Photo-Illustration: Stevie Remsberg/Photos: Getty Images

David Lynch is a bit cagey when it comes to, well, anything related to his personal life and influences. Ask him what inspires his work, and he’ll cheerfully shut you down. Inquire what he’s been enjoying in pop culture as of late, and he’ll point to shows about “cars being built.” (He’s a kook, that one.) So for Lynch diehards, it’s hugely enjoyable to read his debut memoir, Room to Dream, especially since he waxes poetic about a few of the influential musicians, television shows, and films in his life. The key word here is “a few” — there are only 13 in total — but still! If you told me Lynch enjoyed kickin’ back in his youth with a Perry Mason marathon, me and the ghost of Raymond Burr wouldn’t have believed you. Enjoy the list below, complete with some Lynchian context from the memoir.

The Beatles

“People don’t know how important the Beatles were to our lives. People who lived through it know, but young people don’t know. I lived through it, though, so meeting Paul and Ringo was beyond the beyond. On their first trip to America in 1964 they flew into New York City, then they went down to Washington, D.C., and put on their first American concert, and I was there … I was a senior in high school and I wasn’t planning on going, but at the last minute I wanted to go and I talked my dear brother out of his ticket and I went instead. I got to tell Ringo and Paul that I was there at their first American concert, and of course it didn’t mean anything to them. But for me it’s incredible.”

Perry Mason

“We didn’t have a TV until I was in the third grade, and I watched some TV as a child, but not very much. The only show I really watched was Perry Mason. Television did what the internet is doing more of now: It homogenized everything.”

Gone With the Wind

“Movies weren’t a big part of Boise in the fifties. I remember seeing Gone With the Wind on a giant screen, outside, on a summer evening — that was nice.”

Sunset Boulevard

“I do love Sunset Boulevard and I got to meet Billy Wilder several times. I was at Spago [a Los Angeles restaurant] once when he was there with his wife, Audrey Young, and he came up behind me and put his hands on my shoulders and said, ‘David, I love Blue Velvet.’ Then we had breakfast together at some restaurant and I asked him tons of questions about Sunset Boulevard. I also love The Apartment — those are two incredible films — and I was a lucky guy to meet him.”

The Wizard of Oz

“I don’t remember telling my brother about movies, and I don’t remember when I first saw The Wizard of Oz, but it stuck with me, whenever it was. But I’m not alone. It stuck with a lot of people.”

Janis Joplin

“Watching Janis Joplin in Monterey Pop, oh my God, I just break into tears. No one knew her then — it’s hard to imagine now, but nobody knew her — and she comes onstage and these guys play this guitar intro that’s so cool, then it sort of settles down and she starts in and it’s just fucking perfect. She does these things that are perfect, just the best, and it’s a great fuckin’ song and she kills it.”

Dave Brubeck Quartet’s ‘Blue Rondo à la Turk’

“Music has changed since the birth of rock ‘n’ roll, but the difference isn’t anywhere near as great as it was when rock ‘n’ roll came in, because what had preceded it was so different. It’s like it came out of nowhere. They were doing rhythm and blues but we weren’t hearing it, and we weren’t hearing jazz really, either, except Brubeck. In 1959 the Dave Brubeck Quartet released Blue Rondo à la Turk and I just went crazy … fell in love with it.”

Bonnie and Clyde

“I did love Bonnie and Clyde, although that’s not why I started wearing an open-road Stetson Panama-style hat. I started wearing one just because I found one at the Goodwill.”

Jimi Hendrix

“He and his guitar are one thing. His fingers are playing no matter where his guitar is — they are one. It’s unreal. It’s the coolest fucking thing.”

Vladimir Horowitz’s ‘Moonlight Sonata’

“Oh my God, this guy could play it. He plays it slow, and I heard that he had the ability to play a piano key in one hundred different intensities, from the tiniest little note to a break-the-window note. Such soul comes through when he plays it. And Beethoven wrote that damn thing when he was deaf! Just amazing.”

Captain Beefheart

“Captain Beefheart was a really great artist, and I used to listen to Trout Mask Replica all the time.”

Federico Fellini

“My favorite Fellini film is 8 1/2, but I love La Strada, too, and there’s great stuff in all of them.”


“I love Portishead. I saw them with David Bowie at the Mason Lodge on Highland Avenue. We were in the back, smoking.”

13 Movies, TV Shows, and Bands That David Lynch Loves