on life, music etc beyond mainstream


Van Dyke Parks ist einer der interessantesten Hintergrundarbeiter in amerikanischen Musiklandschaften. Unvergessen seine Zusammenarbeit mit Brian Wilson, das mit dem Song „Surf’s Up“ seinen Höhepunkt fand – und seine Streichistrumentenarrangements für Joanna Newsoms Meisterstück „Ys“. Nun sind drei frühe Soloalben, voller seltsamer Wunder und herrlichem Plunder, neu veröffentlicht worden. Und das erzählt uns der weise und witzige alte Mann dazu:
Van Dyke Parks on his career, his musical beginnings and singing with Albert Einstein

Well, a career is a very big word. It suggests almost a plan, and I never had a plan. But I found myself just going from one job in music to another: as a record producer or as an arranger, a studio musician and occasionally a recording artist. When I was a child, I showed signs of prodigy. I was always first share when I played an instrument, whether it was clarinette or cello or anything. I always worked very hard. I was very well schooled as a musician. I waited school to be a musician – a boy choir school outside Princeton/New Jersey when Albert Einstein walked the streets and we sang carols to his violin in 1953. So I can honestly say: I’ve had a great life and it’s all been about the music!

Van Dyke Parks on why he puts these three records out now

Begin at the beginning! And basically that’s what that does. And so it shows everything I revealed in my work. I used those opportunities to do what I hoped would be durable work – work that would live WITH me. So years go by and there is kind of like a new interest in artifacts of the 60’s and so forth that aren’t even collectable. To look into the era itself and associate it with music, is a really great source. It is central to the politics of the time.

Van Dyke Parks about how mistakes become your beauty marks

I made all the mistakes I could make in my first album. It wasn’t fashionable and it wasn’t even classifiable. So a lot of people got angry about it and I took a lot of insults for doing it. And it sank without a trace. But to me all the mistakes I made in Song Cycle were worth it. So if your scars are your beauty marks, if they are what determined who you are – that’s a good thing! So I take that publicly that record!

Van Dyke Parks on the timeless relevance of his debut „song cycle“ and being compared to Rufus Wainwright

Years went by and somebody would call up and say „Will you do an arrangement?“ I remember, it was Joanna Newsom, I went up to her hotel room. She said: „I’ve got a hotel room and a harp, I want to play you some tunes“. So I went up to the hotel and she played the harp and I thought it was fantastic. But I couldn’t understand why is this young girl calling me on the phone and wants me to work with her. I said: „By the way, why did you call me, what had I done that indicated me to you?“ And she said: „That would be Song Cycle, because I was thinking maybe Rufus Wainwright or something!“ Music takes you places!

Van Dyke Parks on being highly individual

I wanted to do something that was beyond a music fascionistas progress of profit. I think that it did inspire other people. And thats good, thats good! It’s a German word that I just heard fort he first time that would be okay to look at it as an ideal quality – and that is „Alleinstellungsmerkmal“. And THAT’S what I think I ended up with Song Cycle: a highly individual thing!

Van Dyke Parks on his calypso sound in these records of the 60’s and 70’s

These three albums were in the time span of my romanic dream escape of tropicality, the calypso obsession that I had at the time. You see this collection of songs in my first three records that are highly inhabited by Trinidadians. I know a lot of Trinidadians. I ate a lot of chicken in backyards, I loved the music and I got to spend time with them. And my work shows that that was a love affair on a personal regard, you know. Calypso was a big deal to me and you see THAT and discover America!

Van Dyke Parks about the early 1960’s and music as a political cultural good

Something was coming that was entirely different. That was the Rolling Stones’ first record and Bob Dylan’s first record. And then The Beach Boys came along with their right wing republican contentment, you know „the good life“. So you have some artist who are coming up talking about hunger and the subculture and then there is the other part that’s celebrating America. I was interested in ALL of it. I realised that there is a political strength in songwriting that’s not to be compared with anything else. People can THINK: „We shall overcome!“. You take that with you! So to me the song is the most portable piece of cultural goods and I’m still pursuing it, and I am in my 70th year, and I love it and it’s exciting. And just by being interested in this, it’s been my calling card to a new generation of singer-songerwriters.

Van Dyke Parks „I never wanted to be famous“

You see, I never wanted a tour, I never wanted to BE somebody. I didn’t need to be noticed. I was doing this to discover something and then learn from it, learn by being in the recording studio and then serve with the blessing of anonymity. So I got that. I got what I wanted as a kid, as a brunette. My mother said to me, bless her heart, she said when I was like in my 40’s, she said: „Van Dyke, we really think it’s marvellous how you’ve put your retirement before your career!“. She was so funny, my mother! But the thing is, I DID stay away from the public eye – and had a very productive life.

This entry was posted on Montag, 25. Juni 2012 and is filed under "Blog". You can follow any responses to this entry with RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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