University of Toronto

LANE: Just don’t let her [Lorelai] change the date [of her wedding].
RORY: Not going to happen. Max is teaching a summer course at the University of Toronto, so if you’re back by the end of the summer, it’ll be fine.

The University of Toronto is a public university in the city of Toronto, Ontario. It is one of the oldest universities in Canada, and is the highest ranked university in the country, named among the best in the world. First founded by royal charter in 1827 and controlled by the Church of England, it changed its name in 1850 after becoming a secular instiution.

The university’s summer programs take place over 3-6 weeks, which fits in with Max being away until early August (so in fact the wedding could be moved up, causing Lane to miss it). Presumably Max is teaching classes in English Literature.

Gilmore Girls was first filmed in Unionville, on the outskirts of Toronto, so this seems like a gesture towards the show’s beginnings (at one time, they considered filming the show in Toronto permanently).

“Yellow ribbons around the old oak trees”

LANE: Write me. Constantly.
RORY: Every day.
LANE: Encouraging letters full of hope and see you soons.
RORY: I’ll be tying yellow ribbons around the old oak trees.

Rory is referencing the 1973 pop song Tie a Yellow Ribbon ‘Round the Ole Oak Tree by Tony Orlando and Dawn, from the album Tie a Yellow Ribbon.

The song is tells the story of a man who has “done his time”, and is returning home to find out if his sweetheart still loves him. She is supposed to leave a yellow ribbon tied around an oak tree if the answer is yes, but to his delight he finds she has put out a hundred yellow ribbons to show how very welcome home he is. This is reminiscent of the “thousand yellow daisies” that Max gave Lorelai when he proposed.

Urban legend imagined that the man was a convict getting out of prison, but the lyricist L. Russell Brown said it was about a man returning from war, inspired by the folk tales of women wearing yellow ribbons during the American Civil War to show they were waiting for a Union soldier to come home. The war is presumably the Vietnam War, since the man is riding on a bus to get home.

Tie a Yellow Ribbon ‘Round the Ole Oak Tree was a massive success world-wide, and the #1 song of 1973 in the US, UK, Canada, Australia and New Zealand. It is estimated that it has been played more than three million times on radio.

“What time do you leave?”

LANE: What time is it?
RORY: It’s eight. What time do you leave?
LANE: I have a ten o’clock flight.

If it’s 8 pm and Lane’s flight is at 10 pm, shouldn’t she be at the airport already, or at least on her way there? Most airlines recommend you arrive 2-3 hours before an international flight. This was shortly before 9/11, when travel security was less of an issue, but even before then, 90 minutes prior to the flight was the minimum, and Hartford is half an hour’s drive away.

The Damned

LANE: I’m trying to find that subtle blend between not too cliché sounding traditional tunes with out of left field, should be standard.
RORY: Well, the Sinatra medley was great. I’d maybe skip playing anything else by The Damned.

The Damned are an English punk rock band formed in 1976, and founded by Dave Vanian, Brian James, Captain Sensible (Raymond Burns), and Rat Scabies (Christopher Millar). They were the first UK punk band to release a single, New Rose (1976), release an album, Damned Damned Damned (1977), and tour the United States.

They were also the first punk band to break up and make a comeback – they briefly broke up after their second album, then reformed without Brian James to release a third album in 1979. The band moved towards a gothic rock sound in the 1980s, becoming one of the first gothic rock bands, and a huge influence on the goth subculture, and hardcore punk.

I’m not sure which song by The Damned Lane might have chosen to play for the engagement party, but it could have been their first single, New Rose, which is a love song, and went to #81 on the UK charts. Lane may also have heard the 1993 cover version by Guns N’ Roses.

“Hey Mr DJ”

[Rory walks up to the table where Lane is in charge of the party music.]
RORY: Hey Mr. DJ, put a record on.

Rory is quoting from the 2000 dance-pop song Music by Madonna. The song opens, “Hey Mr. DJ, put a record on, I want to dance with my baby”. It’s the title track to her album Music, and was a massive hit around the world, going to #1 in the US, and numerous other countries, while also receiving glowing reviews from critics.

“You didn’t by any chance invite my parents?”

LORELAI: Hey, you didn’t by any chance invite my parents, did you?
SOOKIE: Actually, I did.
LORELAI: Oh.
SOOKIE: And at first, I was really torn because I know you have issues with them, but it is your wedding and I assumed you wanted them to be there. Oh no, your mother told you.
LORELAI: Sort of.

Lorelai here discovers that her mother knew she was getting married because Sookie told her, bringing about a terrible argument between mother and daughter. To her credit, Lorelai doesn’t blame Sookie for her faux pas, possibly recognising that it was her own responsibility to tell Emily about her marriage first, and that she never explained the situation properly to Sookie.