Letters from the Road...
Van Dyke Parks on Van Dyke Parks
Established on January 3, 1943,
in Hattiesburg, Mississippi. I'm the fourth son of a neurologist/psychiatrist, nurtured musically from the get-go.
My first instrument, the clarinet (using the Albert system). With that, I always sat first chair. My brothers played trumpet, French horn, and doublebarrel euphonium. Each Advent season, we hit the neighborhood with Noels.
I peaked in the '50s. At age nine, I boarded at the Columbus Boychoir School near Princeton, New Jersey, ushering in an intense musical immersion that lasted from 1952 to 1957. Princeton and surrounding woodlands were a rapture. In town, I sang 'Stille Nacht' for Einstein, who returned to the porch and played a lilting obligato. Read on...
These releases — six 45s with sleeve art by eminent artists — were Van Dyke Parks' first commercial solo recordings since the 1998 Warners album Moonlighting: Live at the Ash Grove (an excellent introduction, by the way, to The Man and His Music).
Since 1998, Parks has been heard on record countless times as an arranger, co-writer, and collaborating musician (with Inara George, Joanna Newsom, Ringo Starr, Rufus Wainwright, and Brian Wilson, among others).
In 2010 Parks toured for the first time in Europe and North America; in 2011 he played Europe and Australia. And now he's recorded on his own terms, in a project he describes as 'Nouveau Niche'.
These singles return the listener to a last-century experience: listening to a song, studying the sleeve art, and getting up to flip the record. Here is true high-fidelity: the superior sound of music on vinyl, and the work of a musician following his own idiosyncratic path. Read more...
Michael Leddy, July 2011