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Odd Man Out

Van Dyke Parks, the invisible legend of L.A. music, finally goes live

Wilson could not have done it without Parks, and as Orange Crate Art proved two years ago, theirs remains an imperfect yet infallible partnership built upon the frail ego of misunderstood genius. As Parks wrote and Wilson sang on Orange Crate Art's "Movies Is Magic": "When you're living in your dreams / And you wake up / It's over."

"As I get older, I see that my music is to entertain," Parks said at the Warner Bros. headquarters, shifting in place and looking at the floor as if to find an answer. "This is very hard to talk about. This is why I make music: It is basically to entertain. But you know, there is something secret about it all beneath that jest, that veneer of ... this ... uh ...." Parks's voice trailed off as he searched for the right words.

"I would like the music to serve as a social force," he continued suddenly, hopping back on his train of thought. "I'm not sure if that means I want to tell people how to vote or whether they should smoke grass. I've never done that. And my embarrassment with Christianity is that there is a mission in it, and that's to convert someone who isn't a Christian, and I don't have those persuasions. I can't do that. But I do know that music could be a force for improving all experience, and that's what I want it to be.

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