LORELAI: No, I mean – God I know this is crazy. I have my mother’s voice stuck in my head. It’s like that annoying Cranberries song.
Lorelai is probably referring to the 1994 protest song Zombie by Irish rock band The Cranberries. Written by vocalist Dolores O’Riordan, it is about the 1993 IRA bombings in England which killed two young children. Released as the lead single from their album No Need to Argue, it went to #32 in the US and #1 on the alternative charts, #3 in Ireland, and #14 in the UK. It went to #1 in several countries, including France, Germany, Denmark, and Australia.
Many people seem to hold Lorelai’s opinion that the song is “annoying” and an earworm that can easily get stuck in your head – the refrain keeps repeating, “in your head, in your head …”, which probably doesn’t help matters.
The song was re-released in an acoustic version in 2017 on their album Something Else, and still sold well, especially as a digital download. The music video for the original is one of the most popular on YouTube, so there must still be a lot of affection for it.
Since Dolores O’Riordan unexpectedly died in January this year at the age of 46, people have probably been a bit kinder toward the song.
LORELAI: It’s just that – you know, it’s about the freedom. I mean if I had access to all that money as a kid I would have left the house so fast.
SOOKIE: Faster than seventeen?
In fact we learn in the next season that Lorelai was actually eighteen when she left home in 1986. Originally the show seems to have decided it would happen in 1985, when she was seventeen and Rory almost one.
SOOKIE: She’s [Rory] like the most unmaterialistic kid in the world.
LORELAI: No, it’s not about what she would buy. I don’t care if she buys a house, or a boat, or The Elephant Man’s bones.
Joseph Merrick, often incorrectly called John Merrick (1862-1890) was an English man with severe facial and physical deformities who was exhibited at freak shows as “The Elephant Man”. He then went to live at London Hospital and became well known in society, even being visited by royalty. It is not known from which medical condition Merrick suffered, and DNA tests have been inconclusive.
His life story was depicted in a 1979 Tony Award-winning stage play, The Elephant Man, by Bernard Pomerance, and David Lynch did a film version in 1980, starring John Hurt in the title role.
In 1987, Michael Jackson, who had apparently related to Joseph Merrick after seeing the film The Elephant Man, reportedly offered the London Hospital one million dollars for Merrick’s bones, but the hospital refused to sell them. It seems to have been a story fabricated by Jackson himself to add to his “Wacko Jacko” persona. For some time, rumours persisted that Jackson actually owned the bones.
SOOKIE: Call her now. Ooh, page her, or page her and have her call my cell phone, and we can sing the money song from Cabaret. You be Liza, I’ll be Joel.
Cabaret is a 1972 musical drama film directed by Bob Fosse, and loosely based on the 1966 Broadway musical Cabaret by John Kander and Fred Ebb; this was adapted from the 1951 play I Am a Camera by John Van Drouten, and the 1939 memoir The Berlin Stories by Christopher Isherwood, which the play was based on.
Set in Berlin during the Weimar Republic of 1931, the film is about a young American named Sally Bowles (Liza Minnelli), and her bohemian life as a cabaret dancer at the Kit Kat Club. The musical shows the growing rise of the Nazi Party, as the club at first harrasses the National Socialists and then eventually allows them to dominate the audience.
The “money song” from the film is Money, Money, containing the refrain, “Money makes the world go round”. It’s sung by Liza Minelli and Joel Grey, who plays the Master of Ceremonies at the club, and acts as the storyteller of the film.
Cabaret was an immediate box office smash, and received rave reviews from critics as a completely different kind of musical – cynical, kinky, political, and bleak. It was the #7 film of 1972 and received eight Academy Awards, including Best Director, Best Actress for Liza Minelli, and Best Supporting Actor for Joel Grey. It holds the record for the most number of Oscars won by a film that did not win Best Picture. Cabaret is regarded as one of the best musical films of all time, and it turned Liza Minelli into a gay icon.
Cabaret was first released on DVD in 1998, so Lorelai and Sookie might have rented it quite recently.
LORELAI: She was asleep when I got home.
SOOKIE: Hi, for that much money you wake her up! You hire a singing telegram! Women jump out of cakes! People dress up like bankers and dance around with those toasters!
Decades ago, American banks would routinely give customers a free toaster or other small appliance when they opened a new account. It doesn’t happen any more, and was basically due to outdated regulations rather than any great generosity, but the free toaster has remained in pop culture as a humorous relic.
LORELAI: One minute it’s, “Pass the pot roast”; the next minute it’s, “Hey, have a pile of money”. Things are never boring at the Gilmore house.
Pot roast is an American dish made by braising a piece of beef, then slow cooking it in a covered dish with liquid added that can be made into gravy. Vegetables such as carrots, potatoes, and onions are commonly added as well.
The dish is a variation of the French dish boeuf à la mode, which was introduced by French immigrants to New England, and influenced by later German immigrants who also marinated and slow cooked roasts to ensure tenderness.
(The Gilmores didn’t really have pot roast that night, they ate rabbit.)
Lorelai is certainly right that being handed piles of money whenever you need them is part and parcel of being a Gilmore. She and Rory are supposedly struggling and working hard, but any time life gets a bit too tough you know someone will come along and bail them out financially.
The town troubadour sings this 1994 song by Grant Lee Buffalo as he walks past Lorelai and Sookie, who are in the flower shop. It’s from the band’s album Mighty Joe Moon, earlier discussed.
Trix offers to set up a trust fund for Rory so that she can pay for Chilton herself, and pay back her grandparents for the first year of tuition. This is because Trix finds borrowing money to be terribly distasteful, which makes you wonder how she manages at banks – are the Gilmores so wealthy they have never needed a bank loan or a mortgage, or are banks different?
Emily does everything she can to convince Lorelai that Rory’s financial independence will ruin her close relationship with her mother. If Rory pays her own way through university, buys her own car, and goes travelling on her own, what will she ever need Lorelai for?
Although Lorelai dismisses Emily’s arguments as the ravings of a madwoman, when she gets home she goes to Rory’s room and finds it full of Harvard brochures, the walls covered in travel posters. It’s clear that Emily now seems a lot more convincing.
Of course, Emily’s real fear is that if she and Richard are no longer paying for Chilton, then Rory won’t need them either, and neither will Lorelai. The thought of losing her daughter and granddaughter all over again is unbearable to her, as her “It’s terrible not to be needed” makes clear.
RICHARD (to Trix): Oh, you’re never going to die! You’re too stubborn!
In fact Trix dies just a few years later. Later in the episode she tells Emily to hurry up as she (Trix) will die soon, so she obviously had a more realistic view of things than Richard.
RICHARD: My mother is a very special woman, isn’t she?
TRIX: You talk about me like I’m dead.
Surely a sly nod to the fact that Trix was earlier spoken about as if she was dead.