Tuesday night’s Van Dyke Parks show began with “Jump!,” off his 1984 album of the same name, and the crowd responded lovingly. The room of fans clapped and tapped their feet to Park’s songs, their faces smiling and familial vibes permeating SOhO’s floor space.
With the help of drummer Don Heffington and bassist Jim Connolly, Park’s music was both nostalgic and emotional, creating an ambiance that left not a still foot in the house. After asking the audience for a drink, Parks accepted a Cabernet with a silly smirk. “I always want to get away having a sharp vision of a fuzzy object,” he joked before continuing on with his set. His fingers danced their way through piano-driven numbers like “Orange Crate Art,” “Cowboy,” “Danza,” and “The All Golden,” among others.
He became serious at one point and, with a twinkle in his eye, informed us that, “Life is precious. Time is our only common enemy; the rest of it is just bar talk on a sinking Titanic.” His commentary continued throughout the evening and was playful and insightful, delighting those who understood his personal references and jokes about the past. His song “Wings of a Dove” began with a short explanation of how the lyrics came to be inspired: “There was a rainstorm in Los Angeles and I had an infant, a young toddling thing, and the rain started coming through the roof, so we placed pots and pans down to catch the rain. The storm lasted over a week and this is what I thought up during a rainstorm in Los Angeles… very dramatic.”
Parks is in in process of releasing the first of six 45’s, his first commercial and solo recordings since 1998’s Moonlighting. Towards the end of the night, he pointed to the merchandise table in the back with a remark about music and why he decided to produce a new set of records. “Everything is a tactile experience for me,” he explained. “Holding a record, it really holds a lot of charm for me. … The music is not as good as you’ve heard tonight, but the covers are precious.” The crowd stood and clapped as he made his way off stage and quickly became surrounded by those in attendance, an icon amidst his most sincere and loyal listeners.