With Van Dyke Parks’ new Songs Cycled (Bella Union), the renowned composer, arranger and vocalist (in that order), not only releases his first album of originals since 1995’s Orange Crate Art (with Brian Wilson singing), but lends his usually complex creations a renewed sense of simplicity. The thoughts may be determinedly complicated and touched by the soul of social protest, but Parks’ music is deliciously direct, while remaining as elegant as anything he’s done for himself (à la 1968’s chamber-pop initiator Song Cycle) or others (the Beach Boys and Rufus Wainwright amongst them). Parks will be guest editing magnetmagazine.com all week. Read our brand new feature with him.
Parks: If you want the trappings of eco-chic, you gotta start somewhere. The battle-plan primer for what any tactical assault in eco-politics requires is laid within these pages. In 1969, McHarg challenged the very tribal directive “Multiply and subdue the Earth”; he dared industry to improve its toilet training. He took on the big boys in the back smoke-filled rooms, charging that local zoning was like “mice guarding the cheese.” He, more than any other (in a long line of naturalist authors dating from the time of Thoreau) made ecology, in urban planning, a public priority. McHarg built D.C.’s green-belts, and saved Oregon’s Willamette Valley. This book, like that valley: indispensable.
Video after the jump.