You’ve been Gilmored: Traveling down musical ‘Lane’

When watching “Gilmore Girls,” I was truly surprised by the number of great music references it contained. To be honest, there were a lot of music pieces I didn’t know of or, at least, heard somewhere, but couldn’t name. This week’s column untangles the musical references I learned and the person whose universe is formed by music: Lane. 

When we first meet Lane Kim, she is a student at Stars Hollow High. Not as academically gifted as Rory (but still a good student), she does not attend the prestigious Chilton and appears to live the life of an average teenager. However, there is more to it. 

On the one hand, she is sharing a house that serves as an antique shop run by her devoutly Christian mother, Mrs. Kim. At the same time, she is a huge connoisseur of music. A living encyclopedia, Lane’s knowledge of music history and the music industry is impressively comprehensive. Very soon in the series, we discover her personal collection, similar to that of a well-stocked record store, boasting an extensive assortment of albums and band T-shirts.

But, here comes an unexpected twist: instead of displaying this diverse range of music memorabilia on the walls and shelves, she cleverly conceals this entire collection within the floorboards of her room. 

She truly leads the life of Hannah Montana, embracing a “decadent” rock-and-roll lifestyle with pizza and band t-shirts during her time with Lorelai and Rory, while adhering to a more conservative routine, singing Christian hymns while at home under Mrs. Kim’s strict scrutiny.

She also cleverly swaps out the music CD booklets with those from Christian music albums to deceive her mother into thinking she’s listening to approved content. And she lives this double life for a long four seasons. A true artist, she learns how to play the drums and creates a music group, Hep Alien and they even go on a tour. A member of her group, Gil, is ingeniously performed by the former frontman of Skid Row, Sebastian Bach.

And, there are so many things that make Lane’s personage fascinating and interesting to study — her contradictions, her relationship with her mother and her first immigrant child experience, her way of coping with failures, etc. But I also wrote this piece to talk about music, especially good music “Gilmore Girls” offers us, either by mentioning (often thanks to Lane) or directly airing it. I feel like it is something that makes this series worth watching (binging). Here is a short selection of music that I liked the most and that shaped the show for me. 

Carole King’s “Where You Lead” has become almost inextricably linked with “Gilmore Girls,” thanks to King re-recording the song specifically for the series. She even altered some lyrics to mirror a mother-daughter dynamic and performed it as a duet with her daughter, Louise Goffin. 

King and Goffin also made guest appearances in the series. King’s character, Sophie Bloom, debuts in Season 2, Episode 20, titled “Help Wanted,” where she plays the owner of the music store in Stars Hollow. In this episode, Lane is captivated by a cherry red drum kit in the store, right as Wilco’s “Heavy Metal Drummer” starts playing in the background. This is the beginning of Lane’s emancipation as a drummer. 

The song “Pictures of You” by the English gothic rock band The Cure plays in the background as Lane retreats to Rory’s room after touching her crush’s hair. Robert Smith, the band’s lead singer, wrote the song after a fire in his home led him to find his wallet containing photos of his wife, Mary; one of these photos is featured on the single’s cover. The song mirrors the nostalgia in “Gilmore Girls” when, later in the episode, Rory discovers the photos of her parents, the remnants of their past relationship. 

There is such a fun detail about Lane and Zack’s wedding from “Gilmore Girls” — they recreated the White Stripes album cover with a brilliant touch. 

Grant-Lee Phillips, known simply as the Town Troubadour in “Gilmore Girls,” adds a truly unique musical element to Stars Hollow. He acted in several episodes, with a notable role in “Love, Daisies and Troubadours” from the first season, where he defends his status as the only troubadour in town against a rival musician. 

This song plays in a touching scene of “Gilmore Girls,” where Rory tells Dean that she loves him, and they share a kiss. The lyrics begin with “Do you remember the first kiss?” which beautifully complements the emotional moment. 

In “Gilmore Girls,” music plays a pivotal role in highlighting the cultural tastes and generational ties between characters. A memorable moment is in Episode 13 of the first season, where Lorelai and Sookie take Rory, Paris, Madeline and Louise to a Bangles (“Hero Takes A Fall”, “Eternal Flame”, and many other great songs) concert in New York City. 

This is just a short summary of all the wonderful albums and singers featured in “Gilmore Girls.” There are several Spotify albums that compile all the songs featured in the series, many of which mirror Lane Kim’s eclectic musical tastes and ambitions. Imagine experiencing this great music through the ears of Lane — an avid music aficionado and an emblem of the show’s rich musical heritage. Listening to these tracks can transport you to the warm, friendly atmosphere of Stars Hollow and simply make your day better.