Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Hi Friends...If you're like me, you associate some of your favorite albums with specific times of the years. Radio City always makes think of warm spring weather. John Barleycorn Must Die puts me right back to the first week of September – back to school (the album came out just before my first year of college and was a dorm hit on arrival). I associate Van Dyke Parks' album Song Cycle with the first chilly and rainy week of autumn – when the leaves are turning and you know that summer is definitely over. I've actually been playing Song Cycle a lot over the past six months and my interest was piqued when I saw that a 33 1/3 book was coming out about the album.

I'm not familiar with Richard Henderson, the author of the Song Cycle book, but I can tell you that he did a great job. I've read pretty much everything written about Van Dyke Parks and the album but this book is a real revelation. In a way, the book pretty much follows the pattern of my Radio City book: author discovers album (with help of knowledgeable record store clerk), background leading up to the recording of the album, details about the sessions and the songs from the participants, the (non) commercial life of the album after it was released, and a brief but excellent summary of VDP's career post-Song Cycle. Henderson got to know Parks and had his full cooperation. The bottom line is that if you like Song Cycle and you liked my approach to writing about Radio City, you're going to love the book. It certainly inspires you to hear the album in a new ways and pick up a lot of details you might not have caught or known - even if, like me, you've been listening to it for the past 40 years.