From The Desk Of Elizabeth And The Catapult: Jon Brion’s Score For “Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind”

Keepsake (Compass), Elizabeth Ziman’s fourth record, began when her landlord was considering jacking up the rent and she had to move across the street into a tiny apartment, far away from her recording gear and the baby grand piano on which she loved to write. Or it began when she started keeping a dream journal, writing down snippets of visions in the middle of the night, or first thing in the morning on awakening. Or it began when she started leafing through old journals and diaries, little half-finished snatches of lyrics and couplets and freewriting, and tried to see if she could shape them through to some kind of completion. Well, who’s to say where anything begins or ends? But for Ziman, who records as Elizabeth And The Catapult, Keepsake was definitely a milestone record—the end of one thing, and the beginning of something else. Ziman will be guest editing all week. Read our new feature on her.

Ziman: Jon Brion’s scores have had a big influence on my writing ever since I was a kid and watched Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind on a sleepover with my best friend. The best way to describe what I felt when I first saw this movie was somehow being nostalgic for something that didn’t happen yet. The simplistic Gershwin-esque mellotron melodies in 6/8 made me want to go find someone warm and fuzzy to travel with on a long cross-country trip. There’s also a slice of harmonic eeriness in all of his scores (Punch-Drunk Love, I Heart Huckabees), as Brion seems to be drawn to absurd, often existential stories, like being forever lost in a dream. Since this movie often bounces back and forth between memories, it was a match made in musical heaven. Now when I’m writing music—especially when I’m looking to score an emotional or nostalgic scene in a movie—I often find myself wanting to emulate his harmonic sensibilities. I’ll say to myself, “What would Jon Brion do?”