Gloomy Music

LANE: Like Joy Division gloomy? Nick Cave gloomy? Robert Smith gloomy?
RORY: Johnny Cash gloomy.
LANE: So kind of like a “San Quentin-y, it’s a long road home and my horse just got shot but I’ve still got my girl by my side” gloomy?
RORY: You read my mind.
LANE: I’m deep in a Charlie Parker gloomy … Now I’m a Lou Reed gloomy.

Joy Division were an English rock band formed in 1976 by Ian Curtis, Bernard Sumner, Peter Hook, and Stephen Morris. Inspired by a Sex Pistols gig Curtis and Hook attended, they became pioneers in the 1970s post-punk movement. Their 1979 debut album, Unknown Pleasures, was released to critical acclaim. As the band’s popularity grew, singer-songwriter Ian Curtis suffered an array of personal problems, including depression, severe epilepsy, and a failing marriage. He found it increasingly difficult to perform live, as he sometimes had seizures while on stage. In 1980, just before the band’s first American tour, Curtis took his own life, aged 23. The band’s final album, Closer, was released two months later; the single Love Will Tear us Apart became their most successful release. The remaining members continued on under the name New Order, achieving further critical and commercial success.

Nicholas “Nick” Cave (born 1957) is an Australian singer, songwriter, musician, author, screenwriter, composer, and actor, best known as the front man for the rock band Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds. Based in England since 1980, Cave is pale and emaciated with longish dark hair, and described as a poster boy for Gothic rock. Most of Nick Cave and the Bad Seed’s early material is set in a mythical American Deep South, and draws on biblical themes. His 1997 melancholic love ballad Into My Arms is one of his best known songs, and his 1996 duet with Kylie Minogue, the murder ballad Where the Wild Roses Grow, his most commercially successful single.

Robert Smith (born 1959) [pictured] is an English singer, songwriter, and musician, best known as the lead singer, lyricist, and lead guitarist for the rock band The Cure, previously mentioned, and founded in 1976. He was also lead guitarist for Siouxsie and the Banshees, earlier discussed, from 1982 to 1984. He is known for his distinctive singing style and trademark stage image of pale complexion, eyeliner, smeared red lipstick, dishevelled black hair, and black clothes, which became iconic in the Goth subculture, and highly influential on popular culture in general, such as the films of Tim Burton. It’s become almost a cliche in pop culture for a teenager to like The Cure as a sign of them being “troubled”; Gilmore Girls averts this, as both Rory and Lane are fans, while not being Goths or having significant personal problems (although Lane did play The Cure as a sign something was wrong in her life).

John “Johnny” Cash (1932-2003) was an American singer, songwriter, guitarist, actor, and author. He is one of the best-selling music artists of all time, and is best known as a country music icon, although he has embraced multiple genres – this has led to him being inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame, Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and Gospel Music Hall of Fame. His trademark all-black stage ensemble earned him the moniker of “The Man in Black”, and his songs tend to have themes of sadness, suffering, and redemption. His signature song was the 1953 Folsom Prison Blues, which is probably what Lane is thinking of by “San Quentin-y” – San Quentin is the largest prison in California, and Johnny Cash performed there a couple of times, including singing a song named San Quentin. The rest of her line is a collection of sad country music tropes.

Charles “Charlie” Parker, also known as “Yardbird” Parker and “Bird” Parker (1920-1955) was an American jazz saxophonist and composer. A highly influential jazz soloist, and leading figure in bebop, he was a hipster and Beat Generation icon, personifying the jazz musician as an artist rather than an entertainer. He suffered from depression, heroin addiction, and alcoholism, and twice attempted suicide; however only some of his pieces are sombre in tone.

Lewis “Lou” Reed (1942-2013) was an American singer, songwriter, and musician. He was the lead guitarist, singer, and main songwriter for the rock band The Velvet Underground, previously discussed as one of Lane’s favourite musical artists. He had a solo career spanning five decades, with the 1972 album Transformer bringing him mainstream recognition, and his 1989 album New York regarded as his greatest work. He has a gloomy singing style, and many of his songs feature themes of grief, horror, and fear.

“Those toasters”

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.

The Coffee Cavalry

LORELAI: The money goes to charity. I look cute. Case closed. Oh finally, the coffee cavalry arrives.

Lorelai is referring to the classic trope in Western films where the US Cavalry charges over the hill just in time to save the battling settlers from Indians. It was a favourite in D.W. Griffith films from the early twentieth century.

Lorelai is saying the coffee is arriving just in time to rescue her from the conversation. Apparently when she is wearing a cowboy hat, she thinks in Western cliches.


LORELAI: Hey, four menus, a coffee and an anvil please.
LUKE: What’s the anvil for?
LORELAI: For Rune.

Lorelai is referring to a common trope in cartoons where an anvil is dropped on a character’s head with hilarious results. It seems to have first been used in Disney animated films, and was perfected by Warner Bros. in their Looney Toons cartoons. (Possibly not a coincidence that Lorelai sees Rune off with a “Bye, Loon”.

The comedy anvil drop may have its origins in real life. A traditional celebration on the Fourth of July in America was launching an anvil into the air with gunpowder from atop another anvil, then watching it fall onto the other anvil with a thud. Presumably everyone stood well back during this exciting spectacle and hopefully nobody got an anvil on the head.

“Would you like to go out to dinner some time – with me?”

Sookie and Jackson have been shown doing nothing but bicker over the quality of his produce since the start of the show. In the conventions of romantic comedy, when two people keep arguing “like an old married couple”, the audience knows they are destined to be together some day.

Sookie is genre-savvy enough to know that the person she has been bickering with must be her romantic destiny: Jackson even acted like a jealous lover when Sookie checked out somebody else’s fruit. She takes immediate action, showing that she really is quite the relationship expert.

Her choice of Jackson is a practical one for another reason: she said she didn’t have time to meet people as she was so busy at the inn, so it makes sense for her to ask out someone she knows through work.

It is notable that while Sookie is always interested in Lorelai’s potential relationships, and gently pushes her toward Luke (her obvious romantic destiny in the show), Lorelai doesn’t reciprocate. She’s never said anything to Sookie except to grumpily tell her that as a long-term single, her opinion on relationships is worthless, and has never given her the tiniest nudge towards Jackson, who they both see nearly every day.