Lang: 'Gilmore Girls' music surpassed TV norm
By George Lang
This Tuesday, after seven seasons, one of the best music shows on network television goes off the air. Granted, "Gilmore Girls” was an episodic comedy-drama about a quirky mother-and-daughter relationship. But beyond the rapid-fire pop cultural banter and whip-smart writing during the show's creative peak, this was a series by and for music lovers.
Other scripted series such as the recently deceased Fox show "The O.C.” gained reputations as tastemakers for college music — one of that show's principal characters, Seth Cohen, almost single-handedly got Death Cab for Cutie a major-label record deal. But you could feel the love on "Gilmore Girls” from the beginning of the first season.
I remember a specific scene in the second episode of the show in which Lane (Keiko Agena) ran up to the Victorian home where Rory Gilmore (Alexis Bledel) and her mother Lorelai lived in fictional Stars Hollow, Conn. She was brandishing a copy of XTC's "Apple Venus, Vol. 2” and screaming as though she had just found the formula for eternal life. At that point, based on these sharply written characters, their particular interests and obsessions and the superb Lauren Graham's performance as single mother Lorelai, I felt like series creator Amy Sherman-Palladino had invaded my thoughts and whipped together the television series of my dreams.
To understand just how progressive "Gilmore Girls” was in its approach to music, just look to The Shins. Three years before changing Zach Braff's life in "Garden State,” The Shins' song "Know Your Onion” was featured on "Gilmore Girls,” and the spring before "Garden State” hit theaters, the band performed in a bar scene from the spring break episode, "Gilmore Girls Gone Wild.”
Sherman-Palladino packed the show with music from great and often underappreciated artists, including late-'60s avant-garde pop band The Free Design, Yo La Tengo, The Pernice Brothers, Sparks and Big Star. The incidental music was written and performed by singer-songwriter Sam Phillips, and the Stars Hollow "town troubadour” was played by Grant-Lee Phillips of the excellent '90s band Grant Lee Buffalo. At the closing of the sixth season, when Sherman-Palladino left the show, the town was besieged by would-be town troubadours, including Yo La Tengo, Sparks, Joe Pernice, Sam Phillips, and Kim Gordon and Thurston Moore of Sonic Youth.
After Sherman-Palladino left the show, most of the fun got sucked out of it, and attempts at music love on the show's final season felt like posturing by replacement writers. But this entire series up to the lackluster seventh season is out on DVD, and it is worth every penny to own an episode from the sixth season in which Hep Alien, Lane's band, self-destructs on stage in a re-creation of the Brian Jonestown Massacre's meltdown from the 2004 documentary "Dig,” complete with a cameo from the Massacre's Joel Gion. The musical in-jokes were rarely as "in” as that one, and network television will be a lot less musical without "Gilmore Girls.”http://newsok.com/article/3052321