Monday, September 7, 2009

Van Dyke Parks - Song Cycle (1968)

Song Cycle is a 1968 album by Van Dyke Parks, known for its high ambition, gigantic budget for the era (it is still one of the most expensive albums ever made allowing for inflation), and subsequent low sales. The title is a reference to the genre of the Song Cycle.

The album's material explores unconventional song structures, and reflects a diverse range of Americana influences. The subjects of many songs, on the other hand, are Southern California locales, including Laurel Canyon Boulevard, Vine Street and Palm Desert.

The album was backed by producer Lenny Waronker, who placed Parks' musical freedom over budgetary constraints. The album made early use of eight track recording.

In response to the poor sales of the record after its release (despite some rave critical reviews), Warner Bros. Records ran full page newspaper and magazine advertisements that said they "lost $35,509 on 'the album of the year' (damnit)." The ad said that those who actually purchased the album had likely worn their copies out by playing it over and over, and suggested that listeners send in worn out copies to Warner Bros. in return for two new copies, including one "to educate a friend with."

Many musicians cite the album as an influence, including producer and songwriter Jim O'Rourke. O'Rourke worked with Parks and harpist Joanna Newsom on Newsom's record Ys. Joanna Newsom sought out the partnership with Van Dyke Parks after listening to Song Cycle.

Track listing

* All tracks composed by Van Dyke Parks, except where indicated

1. "Vine Street" (Randy Newman) – 3:40
2. "Palm Desert" – 3:07
3. "Widow's Walk" – 3:13
4. "Laurel Canyon Blvd" – 0:28
5. "The All Golden" – 3:46
6. "Van Dyke Parks" (public domain) – 0:57
7. "Public Domain" – 2:34
8. "Donovan's Colours" (Donovan Leitch) – 3:38
9. "The Attic" – 2:56
10. "Laurel Canyon Blvd" – 1:19
11. "By the People" – 5:53
12. "Pot Pourri" – 1:08

Note: the song "Van Dyke Parks" above (credited as 'public domain') is actually an interpretation of "Nearer, My God, to Thee", traditionally assumed to have been the last song played by the band on the deck of the Titanic, dubbed over battlefield recordings of Vietnam.


marram62 said...

Nazz Nomad said...

what's the full link? it's cut off here.


Puzzle said...

Worked on this side.

Thanks for the post!

Anonymous said...

Thank you for sharing this rare gem!! E