Vic Chesnutt

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Interview: Van Dyke Parks

The legendary Van Dyke Parks is in the middle of his new vinyl singles project, which will encompass six records with gorgeous sleeve art from some of today’s most notable artists. These are available by subscription from, and as Parks puts it, “Downloads from iTunes insures aid to those stuck in the digital ditch.”

These singles represent the next chapter in an amazing career in music for Parks, who wrote the lyrics for the lost-Beach Boys-masterpiece Smile which is finally scheduled for release later this year. Parks also played keyboards on many albums and songs including The Byrds’ Fifth Dimension album, Tim Buckley’s self-titled debut album, and the should-have-been-a-hit “Magic Hollow” by The Beau Brummels. His production credits include the first albums by Ry Cooder and Randy Newman, both with Lenny Waronker, and he has also done arrangements for U2, Laurie Anderson, Joanna Newsom, and the song “Bare Necessities” from the Disney movie The Jungle Book. His solo albums include Song Cycle from 1968, and the Caribbean-tinged Discover America from 1972.

The following interview was conducted by email, with answers received on 7/27/11.