Say It's Your Birthday: Van Dyke Parks

Brian Wilson (left) and Van Dyke Parks collaborated in the late '60s, and during the past few years.

Van Dyke Parks was born a southern gentlemen in

Hattiesburg, Mississippi in 1943. Parks' family moved to Hollywood in 1956 and

he became a southern California gentleman, something he remains to this day,

his fifty-second birthday. The classically trained pianist/composer and

occasional child actor became known first as a sideman (Byrds, Judy Collins)

and producer (Phil Ochs, Randy Newman). His first solo album, Song

Cycle, released in 1968, was a bizarre amalgam of Charles Ives-influenced

movie music and Donovan-style songs. He has produced similarly eccentric solo

works periodically since, but his most famous work is an album that was never

released. The Beach Boy's Smile record was to have redefined the limits

of what a pop album could do until it was eclipsed in Beach Boy leader Brian

Wilson's mind by the Beatles' Sergeant Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band

and was consequently abandoned. Parks' most recent album, 1995's Orange

Crate Art, reunites him with his old collaborator and friend. It's also the

birthday of George Martin and Stephen

Stills.