Van Dyke Parks has announced two new, previously unheard tracks, “I’m History” and “Charm School“, released digitally today and available as a 7” single from December 2nd.
Some words from the man himself:
On the 50 year anniversary of JFK in Dallas:
Van Dyke Parks remembers where he was when Kennedy got shot, Nov. 22nd, 1963. That assassination, more than fascination, became a dominant obsession for him and a nation that plunged into a psychological collapse.
Shakespeare once captured such wicked irony, when he observed “Old Age and treachery will overcome Youth and Ability”. To Parks, that’s the case with Kennedy. JFK represented a romantic liberal rebellion, and the very idea that “those to whom much is given, much is required” (quoting him). When Kennedy invited the Nobel Prize winners to dine at the White House, he quipped “This is the greatest collection of talent assembled in this house…with the possible exception of when Jefferson sat down alone here to eat.”
JFK invented The Peace Corps, inviting educated citizens to serve the world—long before the “me” generation and the likes of Bill Gates tossing mosquito nets to Africa as a flaccid philanthropic gesture.
Parks observes: had Kennedy lived to fill his term of office (as with his brother Robert and Dr. MLK), this world would be muted in its greed, search for eroticism of wealth, and the inevitable distancing of rich & poor.
“I’m History” reflects Parks’ regret, risking being viewed as a scold, he really aims to celebrate youth, and its potential for a higher bar in social expectations.
It’s not a tune built for a dance floor.
(produced by Parks & Doug Lacy)
“Charm School” is an escapist contrast. (Co-written with friend Ira Ingber), it’s a tropical fantasy and a sequel to “Discover America”, and “Clang of the Yankee Reaper”. Set in a post-Colonial, pre-Mac-World Caribbean idyll, set around lovers lounging in tree-limbs, watching croquet. Trinidadians who were there and can remember, will pick up the reference to Lord Mayor Cipriani, and a scent of frangipani.
The single jacket depicts a young woman poised to slam a trolleyed ball to the hedgerow. It is an oil, contributed by artist Kenton Nelson.
(Produced by Parks and Ira Ingber)