Roy Orbison: Music for Psychopaths

I’ll cop to the fact that I’ve got the song “In Dreams” by Roy Orbison on my iPod.  Let me explain.  When I was about 13 or 14 years old I read a very interesting comic book. The first thing that was interesting was the fact that on the back cover of the dust jacket were the words “suggested for mature readers.” The second thing that was interesting was that it was a story about Batman. The third thing that was interesting was the opening pages depicted a young boy named Amadeus taking food to his mother who subsequently vomited up a bunch of cockroaches while mumbling the words “I’ve eaten.” There were about three hundred more interesting things that happened as I traversed my way through Grant Morrison’s and Dave McKean’s nightmarish graphic novel Arkham Asylum. The final pages are what sparked this entry, however. Each of Batman’s psychotic rogues have little messages scrawled out at the end of the book, almost like an epilogue to the story. The one that stuck with me the most, and terrified my little 8th grade soul was this quote given by Dr. Destiny (who later became one of Neil Gaiman’s most malevolent villain in his Sandman series). He wrote, “In dreams I walk with you…” Something about the three little dots at the end of this statement haunted me…

Flash forward about ten or eleven years. I was in college at that point, and had just made the decision to watch David Lynch’s film Blue Velvet. I watched it alone in the middle of the day, and felt my guts twist up into knots whenever Frank Booth was on screen. Simply put, the dude is the embodiment of bestial cruelty, and you were never quite sure when he was just gonna snap and take you down with him. Anyway, there’s this scene where Frank has Jeffrey in his nasty clutches and they go visit a dude Frank calls Ben. Ben’s apartment is a prime example of Lynchian f***ked up-ness. The lighting is too phosphorescent, there are carney-folk prostitutes hanging around, and overall it looks like someone just puked up a few loads of vintage clothing all over the place. After a brief dialogue between Ben and Frank, Ben cues up “In Dreams” by Roy Orbison. He pulls out one of those floodlights with the bulb encased in a metal grate and starts lip synching the song into the light. Just what in the hell kind of people are these? Immediately following this bizarre performance, Frank drives Jeffrey out into the middle of an industrial complex where he voraciously applies layers and layers of thick red lipstick to his lower face. He boots Jeffrey out, and as he’s kicking the crap out of him, he bellows the phrase, “In dreams I walk with you!” Turns out, that’s a damn lyric from Roy Orbison’s popular hit about “the candy-colored clown they call the Sandman,” entitled “In Dreams.”

So I bought that shit on iTunes. Whenever it comes on in my shuffle, I just sit back and replay in my mind the many shades of chaos that these lyrics represent:

“In dreams I walk with you.

In dreams I talk to you.

In dreams you’re mine.

All of the time we’re together

In dreams, In dreams.”

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