Van Dyke Parks wrote Beach Boys songs with Brian Wilson most notably the legendary album/project “sMiLe,” once turned down an offer to join The Byrds, scored orchestral arrangements for U2 and dozens of others, and had a recurring role as a child actor in "The Honeymooners," in addition to a handful of acclaimed, semi-obscure solo recordings over the past 40 years.
Forty-four years after he landed what should have been mid-60s pop's plum job – providing lyrics for the Beach Boys' follow-up to Pet Sounds – Parks remains a shadowy figure. The mythology that surrounded the doomed Smile album ensured his legend, but ever since he's operated mainly in the background. He has provided string arrangements and production for artists such as Joanna Newsom and Rufus Wainwright and intermittently renewed his partnership with Brian Wilson, (“Orange Crate Art”) but his handful of solo albums – six in more than 40 years – are unjustifiably more talked about than listened to.
A review of Van Dyke Parks show at this past May’s MELTDOWN Festival is revealing and enticing:“The quality of Parks’s show simply put them in the shade. His piano playing left me agog — he plays unlike any popular pianist I’ve ever heard before, sounding to me very influenced by jazz and classical styles, but incorporating bits of just about anything you can think of and assimilating them into one seamless sound. I felt like my brain was growing just listening to him, so deep was his musicality — doing demisemiquaver runs in intervals like it was as easy as breathing. And the thing is, he wasn’t beating you about the head with how amazing he was. I was simply sitting there thinking how great it was that there was someone in the world who could play like that and that I could listen to him for an evening. It was an education and a delight to be there.”
Tickets for Van Dyke Parks with Clare (Muldaur) and the Reasons at 7PM on Friday, October 1st, are available at Northampton Box Office, 76 Main Street, 413-586-8686 and online at IHEG.com.