"Come Wander With Me" is an episode of the The Twilight Zone.
"Mr. Floyd Burney, a gentleman songster in search of song, is about to answer the age-old question of whether a man can be in two places at the same time. As far as his folk song is concerned, we can assure Mr. Burney he'll find everything he's looking for, although the lyrics may not be all to his liking. But that's sometimes the case - when the words and music are recorded in the Twilight Zone."
The "Rock-A-Billy Kid", Floyd Burney, arrives at a small town in search of a new song. He is directed to a dilapidated shop in the woods run by a reclusive old man. After his offer of money in exchange for an original song is rebuffed, Floyd hears a voice singing and wanders off through the woods to find the singer, not seeing a nearby tombstone inscribed with his name. Continuing to look for the singer in the foggy, desolate woods, Floyd twice passes a silent woman in a black shawl, whom he fails to see. Next to a lake, he encounters a pretty but mysterious woman in white, Mary Rachel, who reluctantly plays a song for him about two lovers who meet in the woods and are torn apart by tragedy. Floyd offers to buy the song rights from her, but she claims it isn't for sale. As he tries to seduce her, he convinces her to sing at least part of the song into his tape recorder. At one point, as Mary Rachel sings, it is revealed that some distance away, the mysterious woman in black is watching, sadly—and that this woman appears to be a mourning Mary Rachel. Sometime later, a jealous young man named Billy Rayford with a rifle shows up and confronts Floyd. "The Rayford Brothers" have been mentioned in the song, and Mary Rachel has said that she is "bespoke" unto Billy Rayford. Billy Rayford essentially accuses Burney of seducing his intended bride. Billy intends to take Floyd back to his brothers so that they can deal with him, but Floyd resists and kills Rayford. Mary Rachel's song is suddenly heard on the tape recorder, featuring a new verse that she hadn't previously sung. The new verse reflects the event that just happened ("You killed Billy Rayford/ 'neath an old willow tree..."), and foreshadows a future attack. Floyd runs off, dragging Mary Rachel with him while she tries to convince him to stay. Soon, Billy Rayford's brothers arrive to chase after Floyd. As he prepares to flee, Mary Rachel begs him to stay, hoping things will be different "this time". She implies that these same events have occurred many, many times before. Ignoring her, Burney runs away. As he does so, he looks back and sees that Mary Rachel's clothes have changed; she is now dressed in black, with a black shawl, mourning, and professing her love for Burney. Running wildly, Burney soon finds himself back at the shop in the woods, where the old man declines to help him hide. In his anger, Floyd kills the old man, then hides among the old musical instruments in the shop. Billy Rayford's three brothers arrive at the shop, and see the old man's body. When Floyd bumps a music box, it starts playing, and soon all the instruments in the shop are chiming, ringing, or clanging. Alerted to Floyd's location, the brothers (seen only in shadow) close in on him and shoot him. The camera returns to the image of the tombstone in the first scene, thus fulfilling the prophecy within the song that Floyd would die.
"In retrospect, it may be said of Mr. Floyd Burney that he achieved that final dream of the performer: eternal top-name billing, not in the fleeting billboards of the entertainment world, but forever recorded among the folk songs of the Twilight Zone."
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- According to The Twilight Zone Companion, Liza Minnelli auditioned for the role of Mary Rachel, but was so nervous during the audition she was rejected.
- Although this was the third-to-last episode broadcast, this was the last episode in the series to be filmed. (The last original episode to be broadcast was "The Bewitchin' Pool". The very last episode to be broadcast during the original run—as a repeat—was "The Jeopardy Room".)
- In an interview, episode director Richard Donner stated he thought Bonnie Beecher "was going to become a very important actress" and asserted that he (not Bill Froug) selected Beecher over Minelli for the role because he thought she was "incredible."
- According to The Twilight Zone: The 50th Anniversary Tribute, by Carol Serling and Douglas Brode, in this episode which aired May 22, 1964, "Gary Crosby played the first Bob Dylan-style 'folkie' to appear on the small screen." Burney, however, is not presented as folksinger or a songwriter in the style of Dylan: he bills himself as "The Rockabilly Kid", and sings a frenetic number called "The Honey Tree" which more closely resembles the work of Buddy Knox.
- In an interesting sidelight, some of Bob Dylan's earliest recordings had been recorded at Bonnie Beecher's Minneapolis home in 1961.
- Contrasted against writer Anthony Wilson's other writing and production efforts, the episode is tersely described as "poor" in Irwin Allen Television Productions, 1964-1970, and as possessing "twists and turns that render it virtually incoherent" in The Twilight Zone Companion
The "Come Wander With Me" song was composed by Jeff Alexander and Anthony Wilson and sung by actress Bonnie Beecher. The song is built into the story. It builds verse by verse together with the events in the episode. Parts of the lyrics are not complete, since two of the ten verses are not sung in full. The song has been used in several places since its 1964 broadcast. It was covered by The Gathering's former vocalist Anneke van Giersbergen on her solo record Air, released under the moniker of Agua de Annique. It was featured on the soundtrack of Vincent Gallo's 2003 film The Brown Bunny. It was included on the compilation Late Night Tales: Air. It was also used as background music in Belgian director Koen Mortier's 2006 television commercial "Angels" for Dutch insurance company RVS. The ad shows flying men with open umbrellas inspired by René Magritte's Golconda. Lacoste also used it in an ad for their fragrance "Love of Pink". It was also covered by the band British Sea Power for their Man Of Aran soundtrack, and sung by Cedric Bixler-Zavala of The Mars Volta during the Omar Rodriguez-Lopez Group tour in 2011. An instrumental version of the song was also used by Jeff Alexander as part of his score for Jerry Thorpes 1968 western Day of the Evil Gun starring Glenn Ford.
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