Van Dyke Parks is set to release his new album 'Songs Cycled' through Bella Union in May.
Perhaps best known through his collaborations with Brian Wilson, Van Dyke Parks is a truly unique talent. Funnelling all aspects of Americana through his idiosyncratic vision, the songwriter is a cult talent in his own right.
A talent which is sadly under-used. The past two decades have brought only one live album and one soundtrack record, but all that is set to change this Spring with the release of 'Songs Cycled'.
A twelve track collection due to be released on Bella Union, the tracklisting alone is pretty inspiring stuff:
1. ‘Dreaming of Paris’ (original)
2. ‘Hold Back Time’ (re-recording of a 1995 song from the Orange Crate Art album with Brian Wilson)
3. ‘Sassafras’ (new recording, originally by Billy Edd Wheeler in 1961)
4. ‘Black Gold’ (November 30, ‘02 – a fantasy on the sinking of The Prestige, off the coast of the Bay of Biscay)
5. ‘Aquarium’ (cover of 1886 Saint-Saëns piece, an analogue recording with the Esso Trinidad Steel Band in 1971 - VDP produced their album)
6. ‘Money Is King’ (picks up where Wall Street ends, written with Growling Tiger, a.k.a.- Trinidadian Calypso musician Neville Marcano)
7. ‘Wall Street’ (original)
8. ‘The Parting Hand’ (1835 hymn from the tradition of unaccompanied choral music known as the Sacred Harp)
9. ‘The All Golden’ (new recording from VDP’s 1967album Song Cycle)
10. ‘Wedding in Madagascar’(traditional a capella folk-song, arranged and adapted by VDP)
11. ‘Missin' Missippi’ (original)
12. ‘Amazing Graces’ (instrumental with the ‘Van Dyke Parks Orchestra’)
Here's a full notice from Van Dyke Parks.
"This album is released on Bella Union 45 years from my debut album “Song Cycle” (when I was but 24). In both cases, there’s a maverick on the loose, with a highly personal set of tunes and instrumentals. All of them reveal an iconoclast tilting at windmills, railing at tyrants, barking at masters of war, and celebrating a shameless commitment to the very definition of ‘Americana’. As I was in my brunette era, at age 70, I’m found looking through the glass darkly. These new songs show more than a hint of an eco-politic. In fact, there’s nothing more precious than the song-form to revolutionize popular thoughts and practices that need a jolt of shock therapy. Yet, songwriters must work with a leger demain. A light hand and heart can draw more approval than a heavy-handed scold. My first aim is to entertain the ear with beautiful sounds. I try to do that as an arranger. These pieces reveal my best effort."
"I’ve drawn from a grab-bag of American roots music, from the 19th Century forward. (It was, after all, ‘The American Century’). Yet this song-set goes beyond, and muses about ‘9/11’ and other self-inflicted wounds (‘Wall Street’). It explores the American bombing of Baghdad (‘Dreaming of Paris’), the chicanery of Big-Oil (‘Black Gold’). I insist that the song-form is the most potent political tool available. I learned as much from Woody Guthrie, Phil Ochs, and yes, Bob Dylan."
"Still there’s time for folderol. ‘Sassafrass’ captures all I love about the youth I spent in the Smokey Mountains of North Carolina. It’s a roll in the grass. There’s the renegade arranger in that, reflecting my obsession for studio technique, sound- effects with tuneful percussion that I first heard in 1948, in the music of Spike Jones." "I guess I am like that rusty nail that sticks out, just waiting to be hammered down by an intolerant bastard, with no room for what isn’t rockin’ or classically elite. In truth, I embrace both those worlds. Guilty as charged, I’m wrapped in the flag, looking through the glass, at the world beyond… informed yet optimistic, in my dream escape. It hangs together well, as we must, lest we all hang separately." "I have so many contributing visual artists to thank, for coating it all so deliciously.”