Today is the birthday of that great musical-poetic iconoclast Van Dyke Parks. Oddly enough, experimentalism and Americana go hand in hand — the list of writers, poets, painters and composers who’ve managed to straddle both is surprisingly long. Parks famously tried to steer pop music in that direction with Brian Wilson in the troubled Smile project (which is no longer troubled since its finally seen the light of day). If you haven’t listened to these brilliant tracks, I’ve got nothing to say to ya.
But I’ll cut you some slack if you’ve not listened to Parks’ solo work, as it is obscure in every sense of the word. If you’ve got time and the head space, I reccommend exposing yourself to his 1968 Song Cycle, his project following the disintegration of the Smile sessions. It’ll open your mind, daddy — unless it closes it!
To find out more about the variety arts past and present, consult No Applause, Just Throw Money: The Book That Made Vaudeville Famous, available at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and wherever nutty books are sold.
And don’t miss my new book: Chain of Fools: Silent Comedy and Its Legacies from Nickelodeons to Youtube, just released by Bear Manor Media, also available from amazon.com etc etc etc