Looking back over the breadth of Anders Parker’s two-decade career, there is little he has yet to accomplish or prove. The stylistic range encompassed by his Varnaline work alone is evidence of Parker’s determination to explore, illuminate, absorb and transcend every musical influence he’s experienced, from alt-country and raw folk to pastoral Americana and baroque art rock. And Parker’s catalog under his own name has been equally diverse, be it the transitional familiarity of 2004’s Tell It To The Dust or the ambient instrumental guitar wash of 2010’s Cross Latitudes. There’s A Bluebird In My Heart, Parker’s latest contribution, is a welcome return to his Varnaline/early-solo sound, perhaps in reaction to his recent experimental streak. Parker will be guest editing magnetmagazine.com all week. Read our brand new review of There’s A Bluebird In My Heart.
Parker: My folks had a pretty good record collection. My father was hip to the whole early-’60s folk revival, so we had lots of that stuff: Dylan, Ochs, Baez, Seeger … We also had a pretty decent selection of ’60s and ’70s stuff: Beatles, Stones, Elton John, ABBA, James Taylor, Pink Floyd … Family lore is that my parents were on the way to Woodstock with me in tow but turned around when they heard that the thruways were closed. So, I missed it. Too bad. Not too many years later I would bring the Woodstock soundtrack to school and play Jimi Hendrix’s version of the Star Spangled Banner for my fourth-grade music appreciation class.
All that said, I didn’t really have a musical guide at a young age. I was the oldest and was on my own as far as discovery went. In early 1983, my mom was driving me somewhere and we had the radio tuned to the Vassar College radio station (WVKR 91.3). They were playing some tune that I hadn’t heard before, but it resonated with me. I felt it! That song was “Radio Free Europe.” Once the DJ announced the song, I made my mom turn around and take me to the mall so I could buy Murmur. It changed my life. It still kinda does.
R.E.M. opened the door for me in many ways, probably, most importantly, by turning me onto other bands of that era and before: Velvet Underground, Big Star, Television, the Replacements, Hüsker Dü, the Minutemen and a whole slew of others. The were my guides for a while.