ARTICLES BY Richard Henderson

Van Dyke Parks’ Song Cycle, an excerpt from the 33 1/3 series

Richard Henderson


It’s hard to summarise the surreal variety of Van Dyke Parks’ career.  He worked as a child actor in a film starring Grace Kelly, arranged the song "Bare Necessities" for Disney’s Jungle Book and perhaps most famously co-wrote and arranged The Beach Boys’ long-shelved, ambitious concept album SMiLE. Along the way, he has collaborated with innumerable musicians, including The Byrds, Frank Black, Joanna Newsom, Laurie Anderson and Bob Dylan. He has also appeared in an episode of Twin Peaks and Robert Altman’s film version of Popeye. His own albums have often tackled unusual, quintessentially American themes, such as Brer Rabbit and Japanese-U.S. relations. It seems likely that wittingly or unwittingly you have encountered Parks somewhere. Richard Henderson delved into his Parks’ first solo album Song Cycle for Continuum’s 33 1/3 series.