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The Story Behind Angelo Badalamenti’s “Heartbreaking” And The Pianist Playing It In Twin Peaks Part 11

Angelo Badalamenti hadn't composed the music for the restaurant scene yet, so David Lynch created mental pictures for actor Smokey Miles. “He knew exactly what he was going after and set the mood.”
This post was published a while ago. Please keep its age in mind and if you find any errors, feel free to comment.

After that first glimpse of Alicia Witt, some of you might have expected to see her playing the piano again during the end credits like she did in Episode 8. We did get a piano song, but it was certainly not Alicia on the keys.

But who was that pianist at Santino’s? For once, Part 11’s end credits revealed nothing. So for a while, the Internet was abuzz trying to identify the silver-haired piano player. Is it Angelo Badalamenti? No, it’s NOT Angelo Badalamenti!

Of course, the music is Angelo Badalamenti.

(This is Angelo Badalamenti, by the way)

Is it Burt Bacharach? No, not him either.

Mel Brooks? Now you’re just pulling my frog moth leg.

It’s okay if you didn’t recognize Count Smokula, Bob Dylan’s accordionist or Walter from The Vamps Next Door. Luckily, his friends did and began sending him messages on Facebook soon after Part 11 aired. That’s how Robert “Smokey Miles found out his scene finally aired, about a year-and-a-half after he got a last-minute call from the casting director.

“At the end of the day, I sat down at the piano and David Lynch directed me in a most interesting, personal and deep way,” Smokey tells Welcome to Twin Peaks. “He created mental pictures for me to play soft, romantic Italian music with my eyes closed. I did it in a couple of takes and he said he was happy with it.” At the time of filming, Angelo Badalamenti hadn’t even composed the music for the restaurant scene yet, but “David Lynch knew exactly what he was going after and set the mood.”

Assumably, he gave Angelo Badalamenti the exact same mental pictures over the phone. Dean Hurley tells KEXP David called up Angelo on the East Coast and said, “I need some Italian restaurant music. Gimme three songs: one of them should be kinda peppy, one of them should be slow and sad and heartbreaking.”

Without seeing a single frame, Angelo sent three songs which were then simply placed in the editing timeline, one after the other, and they fit in… just like that. How? “Because he’s Italian!” David Lynch argued.

The question remains, why did the melancholic part trigger a reaction from Dale Cooper? Was it because of the two notes —the ones right before the Lynch & Frost Productions bumper— that sound like Laura Palmer’s Theme? Or something else?

Just like “The Chair,” “The Fireman” and “The Accident,” Angelo Badalementi’s “Heartbreaking” will appear on Twin Peaks (Limited Event Series Original Soundtrack) (Amazon) out September 8, 2017. You can listen to it below or as part of the Twin Peaks 2017 soundtrack playlist on Spotify.

Angelo Badalamenti – Heartbreaking

Founder and curator of Welcome to Twin Peaks since 2011. Bobsessed since March 1991.

What's your response to this?


  1. pebble says:

    It doesn’t make ANY sense that Dougie is taken aback by the two notes that are similar to Laura Palmer’s theme.

    In the Twin Peaks universe it is never alluded to that that theme existed IN the world of Twin Peaks, so therefore Dale Cooper would have never heard that in the original series… It’s a bit fourth wall breaking if this IS the case, but it makes no sense nonetheless :S

    • Avatar photo Pieter Dom says:

      I agree, it would make no sense for Dale Cooper to recognize Badalamenti’s cue. At this point, it’s clear that Lynch and Frost are teasing us with tons of references to the original series. Maybe Cooper was reminded of something else, like Trudy’s piano playing at The Great Northern or some notes from Julee Cruise’s songs at the Roadhouse (or Jacques’ cabin), while they conditioned our minds to look for an actual connection.

    • joethetimelord says:

      Maybe he just liked the music.

  2. Ryan says:

    Maybe because the notes sound similar to Sycamore Trees which he presumably heard while in the red room.

  3. I think it’s a black lodge thing. Remember the Arm? “Where we are from, there is always music in the air”.

  4. The Log says:

    After this scene, a conclusion may be drawn that the whole life of Vegas Dougie is a fantasy dream that Dale Cooper’s mind is creating and unpacking as he cognitively and physically returns from the Black Lodge. The fragments of his former reality are revealing to him in a mixed up fashion just as they do for all of us when we simply dream. The Great Northern key and the Dougie Jane ring found in Briggs body are the only things linking this surreal Vegas story to the realities taking place in Twin Peaks and South Dakota. It’s very likely nothing about the far fetched life of Dougie is actually happening.

  5. Fioro says:

    The melody sounds more like Sandro´s “Penumbras” to me.

  6. Ted L says:

    Here’s a thought:

    Lynch’s lamps have always been a symbol of light in the darkness; of following your intuition or your deepest good.

    Has anyone else noticed that the lamp atop the piano in this scene is very similar to Margaret’s lamp? I think that might be the connection we’re looking for…

  7. Ted L says:


  8. Paul says:

    I love the characters,the locations,the music,the atmosphere. It’s still to this day,30 years on,the biggest cultural influence in my life. It’s literally beautiful

  9. Lele says:

    i think Badalamenti took inspiration from this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4L3CxRRB7Nc&ab_channel=BlueEagle%2a

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