VAN DYKE PARKS appreciation thread...

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I just picked up "Come To The Sunshine" and I can't stop listening to it! How is his later output?

-carlos nyc

Carlos Ramirez (Carlos Ramirez), Monday, 8 December 2003 09:24 (fourteen years ago) Permalink

he did the strings on fiona apple's first album.

teeny (teeny), Monday, 8 December 2003 14:43 (fourteen years ago) Permalink

download his commericals for Ice Capades and Datsun.

Beta (abeta), Monday, 8 December 2003 15:28 (fourteen years ago) Permalink

Buy Song Cycle and try getting through the entire thing.

may pang (maypang), Monday, 8 December 2003 16:25 (fourteen years ago) Permalink

It's not that hard; it's really short.

bad jode (Jody Beth Rosen), Monday, 8 December 2003 17:37 (fourteen years ago) Permalink

I like his live Moonlighting album as an overview of his career, but I have a fairly high tolerance for orchestral schmaltz.

bad jode (Jody Beth Rosen), Monday, 8 December 2003 17:42 (fourteen years ago) Permalink

I can personally vouch for "Discover America"

William R Henderson (Cabin Essence), Tuesday, 9 December 2003 04:23 (fourteen years ago) Permalink

My favourite record of his is "Do What You Wanta", a 45 dating before even Come To The Sunshine (my 2nd favourite). I'm beginning to realise that everything else of his is just too impenetrably "clever" for me. Song Cycle really is unnecessarily hard work (tho not without merit). But yes, those Datsun/Ice Capades commercials are well worth hearing and on P2P somewhere. And only a minute long!

harveyw (harveyw), Tuesday, 9 December 2003 10:00 (fourteen years ago) Permalink

two years pass...
I suggest his work on the Gentle Soul album and The Beau Brummel's "Magic Hollow".

One more vote for Discover America. His calypso period is out there.

Oscar Trout (Oscar Trout), Thursday, 20 April 2006 19:32 (eleven years ago) Permalink

Discover America is a masterpiece, me thinks -- as is Song Cycle. They both fuse old, light classical, psych, and pop in such unique ways. Interesting note about Song Cycle, it's about Parks coming to terms with the death of his brother. His harpsichord work on the Brummels' "Magic Hollow" (off of the Triangle LP) is indeed great. Also, track down Sal Valentino's two 45's for Warners just after the break-up of the Brummels: "Alligator Man" and "Friends and Lovers". Those commercials are great and they can also be found on the Warner Brothers Song Book 2xLP from '69. His two singles for MGM from '66 are cool, as is his single under the name George Washington Brown. Parks also played some keyboards on the Everly Bros' Roots LP, a classic record.

QuantumNoise (Justin Farrar), Thursday, 20 April 2006 19:47 (eleven years ago) Permalink

Song Cycle must have really blown some minds back in '68. I love it.

Mr. Snrub (Mr. Snrub), Thursday, 20 April 2006 21:33 (eleven years ago) Permalink

'Clang of the Yankee Reaper' is my favorite.

Patrick South (Patrick South), Thursday, 20 April 2006 22:39 (eleven years ago) Permalink

his string arrangements on Saint Etienne's "Hobart Paving" > his entire catalogue

hank (hank s), Thursday, 20 April 2006 23:58 (eleven years ago) Permalink

one year passes...
What is with Canon in D where it goes all Shack in the middle with the Bawm-Chk-A-Baawm? It's great.

I know, right?, Sunday, 6 May 2007 19:54 (ten years ago) Permalink

Song Cycle must have really blown some minds back in '68. I love it.

Sadly, people would have actually had to have bought it for that to happen. It is awesome.

I was watching Twin Peak Season 2 DVDs the other day and had forgotten that he had a bit part in one episode. Then I looked it up on Wikipedia and I guess he had this huge child star TV career in the mid-to-late 50s. Really weird.

Is there nothing he can't do?

Bill in Chicago, Sunday, 6 May 2007 21:41 (ten years ago) Permalink

No, I don't think so. His albums are classic and just yesterday I was listening to Ys and I realised that although I loved The Milk Eyed Mender, played it to death and prayed for another one, all the hooks on Ys are from the string section.

I know, right?, Sunday, 13 May 2007 18:48 (ten years ago) Permalink

I have never understood what it is about Song Cycle that people think is difficult or noisy or whatever. I think it is one of the most immediately beautiful things I've ever heard ever. It reminds me of watching Disney Sing-Along-Songs when I was tiny, right down to the dodgy VHS hiss and that kind of freaky nostalgia thing that Ariel Pink wishes he could do a millionth as well as on The All Golden.

I know, right?, Sunday, 13 May 2007 18:52 (ten years ago) Permalink

one year passes...

Yeah Song Cycle feels like Wilson doing a score for Looney Tunes.

BIG HOOS aka the steendriver, Sunday, 31 August 2008 22:10 (nine years ago) Permalink

Song Cycle is amazing. i like blasting it and singing along while i'm driving through hollywood or beverly hills.

it isn't hard to listen to, it's just really hard to 'crack'? sort of a maze, it's easy to lose track of.

Matt P, Sunday, 31 August 2008 22:25 (nine years ago) Permalink

on the whole i prefer discover america to SC

impudent harlot, Sunday, 31 August 2008 22:28 (nine years ago) Permalink

SC has as much great bits ("the all golden", "the attic") as meh bits ("by the people", "widow's walk")

impudent harlot, Sunday, 31 August 2008 22:29 (nine years ago) Permalink

I've exhausted saying things about this but I love Song Cycle, it is a nearly perfect thing

I know, right?, Sunday, 31 August 2008 23:00 (nine years ago) Permalink

An appalling lack of appreciation for Jump! here.

Naive Teen Idol, Monday, 1 September 2008 04:47 (nine years ago) Permalink

It's honestly unbelievable. (I'm finally giving it a real listen tonight.)

Matt P, Monday, 1 September 2008 06:20 (nine years ago) Permalink


Naive Teen Idol, Monday, 1 September 2008 13:16 (nine years ago) Permalink

well I'm looking for youth not experience

PappaWheelie V, Monday, 1 September 2008 14:42 (nine years ago) Permalink

^ Ha.

Anybody have info on that Datsun commercial?

Owen Pallett, Monday, 1 September 2008 17:07 (nine years ago) Permalink

Certainly gotten the best out of Brian Wilson. Surprisingly good album, and easily the best thing he has done since "Till I Die".

Geir Hongro, Monday, 1 September 2008 19:11 (nine years ago) Permalink

(Discounting "sMiLe" of course, but those songs were composed and largely arranged back when he was still in his artistic prime)

Geir Hongro, Monday, 1 September 2008 19:12 (nine years ago) Permalink

Certainly gotten the best out of Brian Wilson. Surprisingly good album, and easily the best thing he has done since "Till I Die".

Which album? Orange Crate Art?!?!

Naive Teen Idol, Monday, 1 September 2008 20:34 (nine years ago) Permalink

Is anyone sharing "Do What You Wanta" on their site?

If Timi Yuro would be still alive, most other singers could shut up, Monday, 1 September 2008 21:27 (nine years ago) Permalink

I'm really enjoying Discover America right now.

Naive Teen Idol, Tuesday, 2 September 2008 18:05 (nine years ago) Permalink

I've been all over this guy for days now and have so much to report.

"Occapella" from Discover America is funky, sexy and brilliant — at least two of which are words I never thought I would associate with VDP.

Clang of the Yankee Reaper is a really interesting record — the title track, obv., but also some really remarkable calypso interpretations of pop songs. By this point, he was literally finding songs that said what he wanted to say and covering them, rather than writing them (and tweaking them: "Cannon In D by Pachabel" is actually not Pachabel at all (or in D) but a Lutherian hymn about God's might). I also like that, according to the credits at least, VDP supposedly only sings here — as if this record could have been created by anyone other than him.

Jump, as previously noted, has some incredible, incredible stuff. The skipping, opening melody of "Many Mile To Go" is one of the best moments of his career, easy. And reviving minstrelry as an artform takes serious balls.

Orange Crate Art has its moments — but is a little harder to dig into because—not in spite—of Brian Wilson's voice.

GREAT and moving six-part Dutch biography on him here: .

(note: There's very little Dutch narration in this, so don't be discouraged by it)

Naive Teen Idol, Wednesday, 10 September 2008 19:17 (nine years ago) Permalink

meh bits ("by the people", "widow's walk")

What the fuck?! the disney choir on by the people is amazing and the slide/step rhythms of widows walk are almost funny in a heartbreaking way. This album is inconsistent but never less than great, it's just that the flashes of incandescent genius throw it off kilter a bit

I know, right?, Wednesday, 10 September 2008 19:25 (nine years ago) Permalink

Ah, right: Song Cycle! How could I have forgotten?

Consider me among one of the people who thinks it's a remarkable, ambitious quasi-failure. It's triumph and failure are kind of interchangeable: its disorienting, unrelenting psychedelia. It's almost as if VDP can't bear the notion that a good idea might wear out its welcome.

I'd also add, tho, that the one place it completely and brilliantly comes together is "The Attic," which as a standalone track fairly lords over a lot of the rest of the material.

Naive Teen Idol, Wednesday, 10 September 2008 21:05 (nine years ago) Permalink

In many ways it's the album described here on all those Tusk threads, that is, it's a morass of webby sound strung around these strange creeping pop songs. Rich and ornate, but also rough and improvisatory. The structures of songs are chaotic and unfocussed but the long threading vocal lines kind of prick along the surface with these curling lyrical trails. The opening cover of Vine St. is like a curtain pulling away to reveal another curtain, it's a surreal and oddly cinematic way to open an album but immediate impression is not to take anything for granted, which for the remainder of the album is a tenet that holds fast. In fact it's a remarkably visual album, underlined by the snatches of field recordings used mainly as incidental introductions and particularly Park's colourful lyrics splashed with runic expressions and delicately abstract aphorisms.

There's a kind of anxiety in how Parks tries to hide his voice behind a number of studio tricks, particularly the almost dubby echo of "Widows Walk", this element of obscuration becomes a major theme of the album, where the restless collage of sounds becomes a constant masking of areas. To put it another way, each part appears solid and concrete when listened to as part of the whole embellished arrangement, but taken by itself they echo and disappear behind other parts. Maybe this is the great haze of the american songwriting tradition that Parks makes new through a kind of creative archeology. His meta jokes with Public Domain/Van Dyke Parks certainly reveal someone for whom the back alleys of music and the names in liner notes are nearly as important as the music itself. The vast, constantly shifting arrangements, then, are like the endless tangle of archives, record stores, names; not so much a nostalgia for a bygone era, but a love of the means by which we understand it.

I know, right?, Thursday, 11 September 2008 01:02 (nine years ago) Permalink

for me, tho, the meta jokes and retreats into obscurity and constantly shifting arrangements are kind of what put me off SC!

donna rouge, Thursday, 11 September 2008 01:11 (nine years ago) Permalink

Um, that's kindof all there is...

I know, right?, Thursday, 11 September 2008 01:12 (nine years ago) Permalink

Like, I think it takes a certain type of person to be so in love with a time they never experienced, and this album is like the soundtrack to that.

I know, right?, Thursday, 11 September 2008 01:20 (nine years ago) Permalink

Interesting aside: When I interviewed Van Dyke he said Song Cycle is essentially a very personal and emotional album that documents him coping with the death of his brother. (Maybe I mentioned that once before. Oh well, it's an interesting piece of background info, which has definitely altered the way I listen to the record at times.)

QuantumNoise, Thursday, 11 September 2008 02:48 (nine years ago) Permalink

I tried listening to it with that in mind the other day. Other than maybe some of the sentimental elements of it...I didn't really sense the connection.

Naive Teen Idol, Thursday, 11 September 2008 03:19 (nine years ago) Permalink

I think it grounds some of the lyrics, gives them some other meanings.

QuantumNoise, Thursday, 11 September 2008 15:21 (nine years ago) Permalink

Apart from the title track I've never been able to get into "Clang OTYR". I used to play "Jump" a lot, but I haven't heard it in years. No love here for "Tokyo Rose"? Didn't like "Orange Crate Art".

Wrinkled Aeneas (Tom D.), Thursday, 11 September 2008 15:27 (nine years ago) Permalink

Clang... didn't connect with me at first either — but after a while, the calypso tunes started getting deeper, more interesting and, frankly, more catchy to me. And the whole "Cannon in D" (note the misspelling) closing is seriously twisted — sort of what would happen if "Tusk" were performed by a disco band in a church.

Naive Teen Idol, Thursday, 11 September 2008 15:53 (nine years ago) Permalink

five months pass...

BTW, sitting up at 7am w/ my daughter on a Sunday, I just noticed that VDP is doing the songs for HBO's "Harold and the Purple Crayon" animated series. The songs today featured him singing about the cycle of life (Harold's goldfish died, apparently), were catchy as hell (think Jump!) and were scored for orchestra and sitar! Harry Nilsson would have been very, very proud...

Naive Teen Idol, Sunday, 1 March 2009 13:47 (nine years ago) Permalink

i had the honour of interviewing him a few months back and he invited me to his gig with inara george in camden. really charismatic and vocal guy, on and off stage. i had a quick chat with him after the gig but he was being harassed by everyone there. he handed me a card which read:

"Mr. Van Dyke Parks
apologizes for his behavior on the night of .....
and sincerely regrets any damage or
inconvenience he may have caused."

the next grozart, Sunday, 1 March 2009 14:05 (nine years ago) Permalink

Thanks for the interview link!

*puts on Tokyo Rose*

t**t, Sunday, 1 March 2009 18:40 (nine years ago) Permalink

four months pass...

I'm going to his alleged only australian concert in Sept. What should I expect from a VDP live performance?

wilter, Wednesday, 22 July 2009 23:56 (eight years ago) Permalink

when i was in LA i lived near laurel canyon blvd and every time i had to cross it i started humming the song cycle track

hallmark race cards (donna rouge), Thursday, 23 July 2009 00:00 (eight years ago) Permalink

oh why did i not notice the little feat connection?

that's as good as bought, then

flesh, the devil, and a wolf (wolf) (amateurist), Wednesday, 27 November 2013 22:07 (four years ago) Permalink

at this point I basically have a growing "stuff I bought in the last six months" box since there is no room on my proper shelves


flesh, the devil, and a wolf (wolf) (amateurist), Wednesday, 27 November 2013 22:08 (four years ago) Permalink

Does anybody know if there's a complete list of everything VDP's arranged/produced online somewhere?

goodoldneon, Thursday, 28 November 2013 02:39 (four years ago) Permalink

I guess this'll work:

Trying to put together a Spotify playlist…

goodoldneon, Thursday, 28 November 2013 18:27 (four years ago) Permalink

VAN DYKE PARKS aka "Everything's coming up Americana"

Geoffrey Schweppes (jaymc), Thursday, 28 November 2013 19:33 (four years ago) Permalink

2002 one-two punch of silverchair and sixpence none the richer

tylerw, Thursday, 28 November 2013 20:15 (four years ago) Permalink

Had no idea he worked with Toad the Wet Sprocket!

goodoldneon, Thursday, 28 November 2013 23:01 (four years ago) Permalink

OK, I took a crack at the playlist:

I limited it to tracks where I could confirm significant VDP involvement, either as producer, arranger, composer, or sideman. Left out covers of "Sail On Sailor" and other Beach Boys songs.

There's a bunch of intriguing-looking stuff that isn't on Spotify (Syd Straw's "Surprise," Cher's "Stars," the 1973 Happy End album, Goldie Hawn's "Pitta Patta"). I might post a few YouTube links later to supplement this.

goodoldneon, Friday, 29 November 2013 18:52 (four years ago) Permalink

can you post the list here for those who don't use spotify?

(i'd like to use it, it just consistently hogs too much memory on my computer and often crashes)

flesh, the devil, and a wolf (wolf) (amateurist), Saturday, 30 November 2013 06:20 (four years ago) Permalink

Hmm, does anyone know a way to export Spotify playlist information into text? (It's 325 tracks right now, so it'd take a long time to type out!) I know how to do it on iTunes, but have never done it for Spotify before.

goodoldneon, Saturday, 30 November 2013 06:28 (four years ago) Permalink

don't put too much time into this! :)

flesh, the devil, and a wolf (wolf) (amateurist), Saturday, 30 November 2013 07:59 (four years ago) Permalink

Too late…

goodoldneon, Saturday, 30 November 2013 19:18 (four years ago) Permalink

Randomly: anyone know the German techno track that samples the intro/outro to "The All Golden"? Not the Madlib track.

with hidden noise, Sunday, 1 December 2013 09:37 (four years ago) Permalink

one year passes...

Hadn't listened all that much to "Discover America" until last night. WOW.

©Oz Quiz© (Adam Bruneau), Thursday, 19 February 2015 17:03 (three years ago) Permalink

Really love the guitars in the first verse of this!

©Oz Quiz© (Adam Bruneau), Thursday, 19 February 2015 17:03 (three years ago) Permalink

Went into this thread expecting it to be bumped because of this:

Tay-Tay Brooklynpants (Murgatroid), Thursday, 19 February 2015 17:04 (three years ago) Permalink

discover america is such a weird/wonderful record.

tylerw, Thursday, 19 February 2015 17:10 (three years ago) Permalink

Mike Love once again rockin' that serial killer stare

©Oz Quiz© (Adam Bruneau), Thursday, 19 February 2015 17:37 (three years ago) Permalink

the world wants to know: will van dyke be in the twin peaks reboot

tylerw, Thursday, 19 February 2015 17:45 (three years ago) Permalink

has VDP been posting to the weirdos + Mike Love thread?

Free Me's Electric Trumpet (Moodles), Thursday, 19 February 2015 18:19 (three years ago) Permalink

i see van subscribes to the theories of "seen and not seen"

rushomancy, Thursday, 19 February 2015 22:52 (three years ago) Permalink

That RBSA lecture is AMAZING. He really goes into depth about how he arranges.

©Oz Quiz© (Adam Bruneau), Wednesday, 4 March 2015 22:52 (three years ago) Permalink

gotta watch that. he is a fun speaker.
was just listening to the Byrds' 5D yesterday and imagining a world where VDP joined them instead of Gram Parsons.

tylerw, Wednesday, 4 March 2015 22:58 (three years ago) Permalink

"Maybe if you put some rhythm in your strings, a drummer can find some room to lay back and still be involved with great economy."

©Oz Quiz© (Adam Bruneau), Wednesday, 4 March 2015 23:03 (three years ago) Permalink

"Bring the heat of the street into the parlor to meet the elite"

©Oz Quiz© (Adam Bruneau), Wednesday, 4 March 2015 23:04 (three years ago) Permalink

Btw quickly paused this to peruse his wikipedia page, I had no idea he was offered spots in The Byrds and Crosby, Still, Nash, and Young! Someone really needs to write a biography on him.

©Oz Quiz© (Adam Bruneau), Wednesday, 4 March 2015 23:10 (three years ago) Permalink

huh, hadn't heard about the csn offer... can't really imagine what they were thinking!

tylerw, Wednesday, 4 March 2015 23:20 (three years ago) Permalink

not a biography, but the 33 1/3 on "song cycle" is a good one

rushomancy, Wednesday, 4 March 2015 23:53 (three years ago) Permalink

That RBSA lecture is AMAZING. He really goes into depth about how he arranges.

― ©Oz Quiz© (Adam Bruneau), Wednesday, March 4, 2015 4:52 PM (1 hour ago) Bookmark Flag Post Permalink

where can i view this??

I dunno. (amateurist), Thursday, 5 March 2015 00:42 (three years ago) Permalink

"The static in this batcave of bloggery" he has an amazing way with words.

©Oz Quiz© (Adam Bruneau), Thursday, 5 March 2015 01:23 (three years ago) Permalink

someone ought to employ him as a lyricist!

he quipped with heat (amateurist), Thursday, 5 March 2015 04:33 (three years ago) Permalink

two years pass...

my heart sings whenever i find some Song Cycle appreciation in the wild-

flappy bird, Wednesday, 14 June 2017 22:24 (ten months ago) Permalink

I listened to it for the first time in ages just the other day. It really is great

Shat Parp (dog latin), Thursday, 15 June 2017 10:05 (ten months ago) Permalink

three months pass...

just listened to this 10 times in a row (got the Sundazed reissue of the single in Toronto the other day)

flappy bird, Monday, 25 September 2017 02:54 (six months ago) Permalink

Can you imagine is VDP produced a whole album for Randy Newman that sounded like this?

kurt schwitterz, Monday, 25 September 2017 20:21 (six months ago) Permalink

GODDAMN that is fucking great!!

flappy bird, Monday, 25 September 2017 23:04 (six months ago) Permalink

the Harpers Bizarre cover is p sweet too, VDP plays keyboards on it

flappy bird, Tuesday, 26 September 2017 18:11 (six months ago) Permalink

he is great on twitter

Mr. Snrub, Tuesday, 26 September 2017 21:14 (six months ago) Permalink

yeah his twitter is great. if you say anything about how he is under appreciated, his career was sabotaged, mike love is an asshole, or his brilliance knows no bounds, he will smash that fuckin fav & RT immediately. i like his "birthday" series.

flappy bird, Tuesday, 26 September 2017 23:01 (six months ago) Permalink

one month passes...

Didn't know this

On Aug. 9, '69, just after 3:00 p.m, I rapped on the door at 10050 Cielo Dr., to visit Terry Melcher at home. He'd moved. On that front lawn I'd 1st met Brian. Sharon met me, clued me in. Asked if I wanted to come join her & her guests. Decent! I declined.

— Van Dyke Parks (@thevandykeparks) November 21, 2017

flappy bird, Tuesday, 21 November 2017 18:19 (four months ago) Permalink

Saw that as well. Yikes.

Naive Teen Idol, Wednesday, 22 November 2017 16:16 (four months ago) Permalink

According to Karina Longworth on her Manson podcast, every Hollywood celeb of the time has a story about going to the Tate house or being invited that day. Makes me a bit sceptical about VDP.

Moodles, Wednesday, 22 November 2017 17:06 (four months ago) Permalink

i was yapping about vdp at a show recently and this dude came up and showed me his biz card

kurt schwitterz, Wednesday, 22 November 2017 17:41 (four months ago) Permalink

ha yes!! i was just telling my friend about that business card
also recently converted another friend to the righteous ways of SONG CYCLE...
it is the gospel/disease I spread

flappy bird, Wednesday, 22 November 2017 17:55 (four months ago) Permalink

Ah yeah I got given one of these when I met him. Totally forgot about that. Hope I still have it somewhere

Fox Mulder, FYI (dog latin), Thursday, 23 November 2017 01:04 (four months ago) Permalink

's weird. I used to follow VDP on Twitter and he also followed me. Then he blocked me. I'll never know why. He's also the only person to block me on there. I still revere the man!

Acid Hose (Capitaine Jay Vee), Thursday, 23 November 2017 01:49 (four months ago) Permalink

two weeks pass...

Maybe it was an accident?

Naive Teen Idol, Monday, 11 December 2017 04:16 (four months ago) Permalink

he's been having a ball with puns on "he is not your run of the mill Alabama garden variety country fare" lately

flappy bird, Monday, 11 December 2017 06:42 (four months ago) Permalink

lol fuck switch Alabama around

flappy bird, Monday, 11 December 2017 06:43 (four months ago) Permalink

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