Van Dyke Parks interview

John Lingan (whose writing I found on the House Next Door, where he does a terrific series comparing movies and their own remakes*) interviews Van Dyke Parks about Parks' 1968 record Song Cycle:

[JL]: What were your immediate influences on Song Cycle, both lyrically and musically? There's a similarity to Copland in the use of American idioms in orchestral settings, just as there's a little Whitman in your variety of characters and place names. But your work is more elliptical than either; what were the formative influences on that record?

VDP: Lyrically, the free-relating lyrics were consciously influenced by the Beat poets, James Joyce, Ferlinghetti, e.e. cummings, with perhaps a nod to Bob Dylan—the latter of whom set a new elastic standard in what a song lyric could achieve.

The music? Basically an attempt to integrate the power of Cliché into a Pop arena. By "Pop," I mean a style of expression stamped in the Visual Arts during the sixties (Warhol, Lichtenstein, Rauschenberg, etc.) in which images are reduced to the irreducible redux. In Song Cycle, such images are in orchestral detail (the Presidential dirge in the march to "The All Golden," the street sensibility in "Laurel Canyon" with the honk of the Helms Bakery truck, the flatulent horn retorts underscoring the Gershwinesque "I came west unto Hollywood."

It makes complete sense to think of Song Cycle as audio Rauschenberg, but I hadn't before. It's rare for a musician to trace roots to visual work.

*terrific despite the recent dismantling of his premise by comparing Piranha to Jaws rather than Piranha 3D--the Joe Dante tribute could probably have been done in another vehicle. Earlier comparisons are refreshing for being somewhat disrespectful to the original films (e.g, The Vanishing).