For years i have purchased and sold back my various copies of Van Dyke Parks' "Song Cycle." There are albums one gets right away, and then there are others that are a total head scratcher. And for me, "Song Cycles" is an album to this day I don't have an understanding of it. Yet I keep downloading/buying this album. Mostly due to friends who swear to this album, but also there are sounds on this record that doesn't leave me. It is so eccentric, and believe me I own and love a lot of 'strange' recordings. But "Song Cycle" is like listening to someone's inner thoughts that are not connected to other thoughts.
Richard Henderson's short book (part of the great 33 1/3 series) on "Song Cycle" and its making is an essential text to this weirdo album. One of the great things about the book is that it doesn't expose the mystery - because this is a recording that you are going to get or not get. And with frustration I have been stuck on the fork on the road where I don't know which avenue to take.
So in a nutshell for reasons I don't fully understand this album is quite remarkable, and its nice to have Henderson's text exploring "Song Cycle's" themes and early Americana, which to me, makes the U.S. a foreign world. Also it is great that something that was recorded 40 years ago is still a puzzle to the ears. I sense many future listenings to this particular sound known as "Song Cycle."
Van Dyke Parks' "Song Cycle"
Interview with Van Dyke Parks