The Song Cycles of (Possible Genius) Van Dyke Parks

Van Dyke Parks, rendered.Charles Ray


Van Dyke Parks
Songs Cycled

Bella Union

Boasting a lengthy résumé spanning nearly a half-century, Van Dyke Parks has written and recorded with Brian Wilson; played, produced, or arranged for everyone from The Byrds and Harry Nilsson to Rufus Wainwright and Joanna Newsom; and written music for film and TV. But his greatest achievement may be his determinedly noncommercial solo albums.

Even in the anything-goes 1960s, when he released his first LP, Song Cycle, the Mississippi-born Parks was too out-there to command a large following, thanks to his eccentric stew of old-timey parlor music, classical strains (Aaron Copland et al.), Caribbean spice and all-around genial oddness.

Songs Cycled, his first solo release in 15 years, finds Parks’ magic undimmed. His sprightly voice suggesting a loopy Southern aristocrat, Parks ponders injustice (“Money Is King”), revisits a shimmering gem from his debut (“The All Golden”) and offers a hallucinatory steel drum interlude that could be “The Nutcracker” by way of Trinidad. However strange he may seem at first, Parks’ uniquely offbeat sounds quickly cast their own satisfying spell. Don’t miss out on this true original, who may just be a genius.

$500,000 MATCHING GIFT

In 2014, before Donald Trump announced his run for president, we knew we had to do something different to address the fundamental challenge facing journalism: how hard-hitting reporting that can hold the powerful accountable can survive as the bottom falls out of the news business.

Being a nonprofit, we started planning The Moment for Mother Jones: A special campaign to raise $25 million for key investments to make Mother Jones the strongest watchdog it can be. Five years later, readers have stepped up and contributed an astonishing $23 million in gifts and future pledges. This is an incredible statement from the Mother Jones community in the face of the huge threats—both economic and political—against the free press.

Read more about The Moment and see what we've been able to accomplish thanks to readers' incredible generosity so far, and please join them today. Your gift will be matched dollar for dollar, up to $500,000 total, during this critical moment for journalism.

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our newsletters

Subscribe and we'll send Mother Jones straight to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate

We have a new comment system! We are now using Coral, from Vox Media, for comments on all new articles. We'd love your feedback.