This song by alternative rock band Modest Mouse is playing in Rory’s bedroom during the opening scene. Only later do we discover Lane is in her bedroom, and it is she who is listening to it.
“Tiny Cities Made of Ashes” is a track from the band’s 2000 album, The Moon & Antarctica. The first to be released by the band on a major record label (Epic Records), it led to fans being worried that they would lose their unique sound. However, the album received positive reviews, with some critics feeling that it was actually the band’s “weirdest” album. It was ranked as one of the best albums of that year. The album went to #120 in the US, and has been certified gold, having sold almost half a million copies.
Knowing that Lane is in Rory’s bedroom the whole time in this scene, it seems a bit strange that Rory doesn’t share the big news of the Harvard application arriving with her best friend. I suppose it’s something Rory wants to experience with Lorelai first, and perhaps she doesn’t want to shove her academic opportunities in Lane’s face – and she also knows Lane is too busy concentrating on writing her band ad to listen. Still, it’s a slightly melancholy indication that their lives are going to continue in different directions.